Forests play a crucial role in ensuring our continued existence. They provide critical environmental services - regulating water flow into our streams/ rivers and moderating climatic change. We also depend on forests to supply us with many essential items such as timber for all kinds of uses, non-timber forest products such as rattan and bamboo, wild fruits such as the petai (Parkia spp.), durian (Durio spp.) and medicinal plants. Many of the animals found in forests are of great importance to us. Bats, for example, help to pollinate fruit plants and keep the number of insect pests down; without bats we will have to spend more money on insecticides, most of which are harmful to the environment.
Tropical rainforests have long been recognised as one of the most productive type of forests in the world. There are only three areas in the world where tropical rainforests are found – tropical South America, Central Africa and Southeast Asia. The rainforests of Southeast Asia are believed to be the oldest and among the most biologically diverse in the world.
Malaysia's land surface was once almost entirely covered with forest. Today, forests still cover about 59.5% of the total land area. However, deforestation is a major concern as the country is still rapidly developing. In the 20 years from 1983 to 2003, there was a reduction of about 4.9 million hectare of forest cover in Malaysia. This is about 4 times the size of Singapore - an average of 250,000 hectare of forest being lost annually! Apart from deforestation, the remaining forests face threats from unsustainable logging, illegal removal of forest products and encroachment.
WWF-Malaysia’s Forest for Life Programme aims to increase the coverage of forest protected areas, improve the management of production forests for the supply of sustainable timber, and restore degraded areas especially where there is need to maintain critical forest linkages.