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© Mazidi Abd Ghani / WWF-Malaysia


Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s surface and contain much of the biological diversity found on land – they harbour over two-thirds of known terrestrial species, many of which are threatened.


Malaysia’s land surface was once almost entirely covered with forest. Today, forests still cover about 54% of the total land area. However, deforestation is a major concern as the country is still rapidly developing. From 2001 to 2019, there was a reduction of about 8.12 million hectares of tree cover in Malaysia. This is equivalent to a 28% decrease in tree cover since 2000. Apart from deforestation, the remaining forests face threats from unsustainable logging, illegal removal of forest products and encroachment due to agricultural and urbanisation activities.


Among all types of forests, tropical rainforests support the greatest diversity of living organisms on Earth. With an estimated range from 3 to 50 million species of flora and fauna, rainforests are the undisputed champions of biodiversity among the world's ecosystems. The rainforests of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, are believed to be the oldest and among the most biologically diverse in the world. This diversity of rainforests is not accidental, but the result of a series of unique circumstances.

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Protected areas are crucial for the conservation of natural habitats, species and genetic diversity. In Malaysia, there is much scope for the establishment of more protected areas and the improvement of existing ones. Historically, protected areas have often been referred to as the cornerstone of biodiversity.



Borneo conjures up images of adventure on a mysterious island, strange creatures and encounters with diverse people. To conservationists, Borneo is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The ambitious conservation programme, Heart of Borneo that some may have heard of encompasses not just any area in Borneo, but highland forests at the core, or heart, of the island.


Borneo contains one of the oldest rainforests and is a biodiversity hotspot in the world. The Heart of Borneo is a transboundary cooperation between the countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and covers a 22-million hectare landscape of conservation and sustainable use areas. It is one of WWF’s global priority conservation areas and home to a diverse wildlife assemblage that include Bornean endemics such as the proboscis monkey, orangutan and elephant. The landscape is also important for the socio and economic well-being of the local and indigenous people. To maintain a harmonious relationship between the people and nature, it is crucial to sustainably manage the forests and land.



WWF-Malaysia supports the implementation of the national and state policies through our Sabah Landscapes Programme (SLP), which has three pillars: Protect, Produce and Restore. SLP aims to support the achievement under of the sustainable development goals by integrating the protection of forests, wildlife and rivers with RSPO certified production of palm oil, and restoration of ecological corridors and riparian reserves. Through the programme, WWF-Malaysia will work in three priority landscapes such as Tabin, Tawau and Lower Sugut. Subsequent conservation efforts will also continue in Central Forest, Kalabakan and Ulu Padas-Nabawan landscapes.

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At WWF-Malaysia, we aim to increase forest coverage and 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.

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