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Latest Updates Click for latest news from Malaysia
May 15, 2024
Tightening the forest degazettment process in Malaysia

Under the Malaysian Constitution, forestry is under State jurisdiction. The National Forestry Act coordinates forestry matters nationally and recently amendments to the Act were passed. Among the key changes were the tightening of the degazetting and replacement process for permanent forest reserves, the introduction of a public investigation process before the degazetting of any forest reserve and the simultaneous replacement of the degazetted forest. 5 ITTO TTM Report: 28:9 1 – 15 May 2024 The Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, urged State governments to adopt the amendments as, so far, only Perlis and Selangor States have fully adopted the amendments.

May 15, 2024
China’s Black Box: Antique Furniture Frenzy Fuels Rosewood Crisis

Over three million tons of West African Rosewood have been shipped to China since 2017. The logs are manufactured into high-end Chinese furniture and exported worldwide as part of a multi-billion dollar furniture industry.


In November, Wood Central reported that CITES had banned the felling, transportation, and exportation of West African Rosewood in response to Chinese traders’ “industrial-scale” exploitation of the timbers. That move, according to environmental watchdog forest-trends, is an acknowledgment that past measures to protect the species, known as P. erinaceus, have “not worked and that CITES Parties (who are responsible for the measures to verify the legality and sustainability of trade, have not been able to eradicate illegal trade alone.”

Now, a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency alleges that the multi-billion dollar trade is showing no signs of slowing, despite CITES and the Gambian government’s both introducing outright bans on the harvest and distribution of the timbers.

May 10, 2024
Malaysia’s Indigenous Palm Oil Farmers Continue to Fight For Justice in European Union’s Deforestation Regulations

The Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA) based in Sarawak, Malaysia is urging indigenous farmers to stand up for their rights to self-govern their ancestral lands and demand exception from the European Union’s Deforestation Regulations (EUDR).


As Malaysia seeks to certify 100% of its palm oil production under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme to meet EUDR requirements, some DOPPA members are facing the threat of exclusion from foreign markets due to the issue of indigenous land claims. Land title is a prerequisite for the MSPO which seeks acceptance by the EU, US and UK. DOPPA supports the MSPO and wants all  members to be certified. However, land claims are a complex matter which cannot be resolved quickly to meet the requirements the MSPO or EUDR

May 1, 2024
Indonesia and Malaysia: Palm Oil Under Pressure from Substitutes and EU Deforestation Regulation

The palm oil industry, notably in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s two largest producers, faces challenges from claimed environmentally friendly substitutes. C16 Bioscience, a US-based company, has been developing palm oil substitutes since 2017 with Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, among its investors.

On its website, C16 promotes Palmless by emphasising palm oil’s environmental harm. It doubts the efficacy of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, as certified palm oil is often mixed with non-certified palm oil, hindering source traceability despite RSPO criteria against primary forest clearance or biodiversity-rich areas.

Now, C16 is leveraging the EUDR to expand the utilisation of Palmless. The company recommends that downstream producers diversify their supply chains by using palm oil alternatives like Palmless, which falls outside the scope of the EUDR.

April 13, 2024
Future of the Most Versatile Food Oil May Lie in Latin America

Bloomberg reports on the growth of palm oil production in Latin America where new, highly traceable supply chains are being established as traditional palm oil giants Malaysia and Indonesia have run out of land for further expansion without deforestation.

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April 10, 2024
Ghost roads and the destruction of Asia-Pacific tropical forests

All nations have some unmapped or unofficial roads, but the situation is especially bad in biodiversity-rich developing nations, where roads are proliferating at the fastest pace in human history.


When ghost roads appear, local deforestation soars—usually immediately after the roads are built. We found the density of roads was by far the most important predictor of forest loss, outstripping 38 other variables.

Also reported here: Scientists find vast numbers of illegal ‘ghost roads’ used to crack open pristine rainforest (

April 4, 2024
Tropical forest loss puts 2030 zero-deforestation target further out of reach

The overall rate of primary forest loss across the tropics remained stubbornly high in 2023, putting the world well off track from its net-zero deforestation target by 2030, according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.


The few bright spots were Brazil and Colombia, where changes in political leadership helped drive down deforestation rates in the Amazon.


Elsewhere, however, several countries hit record-high rates of forest loss, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia and Laos, driven largely by agriculture, mining and fires.

March 16, 2024
Malaysia certification

Sarawak has reduced its timber harvesting operations to approximately two million cubic metres per year to balance the need for environmental conservation and economic considerations, said Hamden Mohammad the Sarawak Forest Department Director. He added that requirements on forest management certification apply to both natural and planted forests. “We currently have 25 certified natural forests covering over 2.2 million hectares as well as seven certified forest plantations covering approximately 97,000 hectares” he told participants at the opening ceremony of the Conference.

March 12, 2024
The Credit Chainsaw

This report by Global Witness shows how the 20 biggest banks in the EU have provided billions to companies linked to deforestation since 2016. This review shows that voluntary guidelines and individual commitments by financial institutions are unlikely to stop the financing of forest destruction.

March 5, 2024
Belgium’s Russia Wood Mystery EU member’s door ajar to illegal imports

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, sanctions swiftly followed, including a total ban on Russian timber imports into the European Union (EU) from July 2022. Belgium, one of the staunched supports of the EU ban, has become a profitable destination for Russian wood. Using a forensic laboratory at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, inspectors determined that several wood shipments from Russia had arrived in Belgium. The number of fines imposed for illegal harvests almost tripled in 2023.
“But an impediment is a distinct lack of inspectors,” Wynant said. “There are now fewer than five timber inspectors working full-time in Belgium, but there are 4500 timber importers,”according to the article .

January 15, 2024
Update on Malaysia Timber Certification Standard

Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme is transitioning to the PEFC ST 2020 by 31 December 2023. Any certificates that have not fully transitioned by 1 January 2024 will automatically be updated to “expired” on the PEFC database. MTCC is working with PEFC to ensure MTCS-PEFC certified timber products originating in Malaysia comply with EUDR requirements. Also reported in ITTO MIS Jan 1-14 2024

December 29, 2023
Shrinking civil space and persistent logging: 2023 in review in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has never been an easy place for activists, but a worrying trend emerged over the course of 2023 that saw environmental and Indigenous activists increasingly placed in the crosshairs of authoritarian governments as a result of their activism.

December 28, 2023
Shrinking civil space and persistent logging: 2023 in review in Southeast Asia

Mongabay presents a short summary of status of illegal logging and forest governance in SE Asia.

December 27, 2023

Wilmar International’s No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy, announced ten years ago, marked a significant milestone in environmental conservation by prohibiting deforestation, peatland destruction, land-grabbing, and labor abuses in their global supply chain, impacting thousands of palm oil companies.

The policy, a result of global campaigning and intense negotiations, contributed to a dramatic reduction in deforestation for palm oil by over 90%, influencing other industries and contributing to the lowest deforestation levels in Indonesia, as well as progress in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and tropical Africa, argues Glenn Hurowitz, the Founder and CEO of Mighty Earth, who led the negotiation with Wilmar.

Hurowitz says this “success story” highlights the importance of private sector involvement, effective campaigning, diligent implementation, the necessity of continuous effort, and the insufficiency of data alone in driving change.

November 28, 2023
Malaysia, Indonesia seek allies in EU deforestation row

Malaysia and Indonesia want to bring other Southeast Asian countries on their side amid ongoing disputes with the European Union over environmental and deforestation regulations that are set to take effect in late 2024, with the two nations worried about the regulations’ impact on the region’s agriculture exports. Both Southeast Asian states have independently initiated complaints against the EU to the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for around 85% of global palm oil production, argue that the EU Deforestation-Free Regulation is discriminatory and unfairly punishes small-scale farmers who will struggle to cope with the bureaucratic demands set by Brussels.

November 6, 2023
Joint collaboration proves effective against illegal hunting and logging in Sabah protected forests

A joint collaboration among several key stakeholders has led to the significant combat of forest-related crimes such as illegal hunting and logging here.


State Assistant minister to Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir said Yayasan Sabah Group, Sabah Environmental Trust, Sabah Forestry Department, and the Sabah Wildlife Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August, last year.

November 3, 2023
From Cambodia to Thailand, rubber producers brace for new EU rules

European Union rules aimed at stopping deforestation threaten widespread disruption for Southeast Asia’s rubber sector, from Cambodia’s 30,000 small farmers to major exporters in Thailand and Malaysia.


The concern for Southeast Asia, critics say, is that these requirements will disproportionately hurt small farmers while failing to adequately address rubber’s role in deforestation.

October 25, 2023
Thailand’s Rubber Farming a Major Contributor to Deforestation

The deforestation caused by the rubber farming in Thailand and the world has been significantly underestimated, according to new findings from two scientific studies, with Southeast Asian rubber production potentially contributing up to three times more forest depletion than previously thought.

With over 4 million hectares of forest lost for rubber production since 1993, an area the size of Switzerland, “the effects of rubber on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia could be extensive,” according to a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.


In Southeast Asia, mature rubber plantations covered 14.2 million hectares. Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for more than 70% of these plantations.

China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos were also important rubber-producing countries. Rubber plantations that were closed down before 2021 were excluded from the analysis, despite the fact that they may have contributed to deforestation.

October 13, 2023
2024 Budget: Orang Asli suitable as community rangers

The role of community rangers is very important in efforts to combat encroachment, illegal logging and mining as well as the killing of wildlife, therefore increasing the number of rangers including from the Orang Asli community is described as the right decision.

September 1, 2023
Palm oil giants Indonesia, Malaysia start talks with EU over deforestation rule

Negotiations have begun between the world’s top two palm oil producers and the EU to address sticking points in a deforestation law that would make it harder for the commodity to enter European markets.


Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85% of global palm oil exports, and would be heavily impacted by the EU Deforestation-Free Regulation (EUDR), which prohibits imports into the EU of commodities sourced by clearing forests.


At the first joint meeting of an EU-Indonesia-Malaysia task force, delegates discussed risk designations for producer countries as well as the role of certification schemes like the RSPO to help meet EUDR requirements.


Indonesian officials say their main issue with the EUDR is that it discriminates against small farmers, who manage 41% of the total plantation area in the country and would have difficulty complying with the new regulation’s requirements.

June 21, 2023
Company owner, manager claim trial to illegal logging

A logging company owner and manager were charged in the Sessions Court with illegal logging and unlawfully possesing logs in Sipitang.


Company owner Yun Ket Chun, 48, and manager Tiong Chee Khong, 49, pleaded not guilty before judge Elsie Primus to the four charges today.

In the first and second counts, the duo was accused of felling trees without a permit or licence under the Forest Enactment 1968 between July 17, 2019 and Feb 4, 2020.

They cut down more than 700 trees in 2 forest reserves and state land. Fines and jail time are being requested. all the logs were seized by the Forestry Department and had been auctioned.

May 17, 2023
Forest Stewardship Council launches investigation into timber giant Samling

Last week, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) officially accepted a complaint against Malaysian timber giant Samling filed by civil society groups last October, The Borneo Project and Bruno Manser Fonds report.


The FSC accepted the complaint after determining there was “sufficient evidence” regarding violation of its policies. In an online statement last Wednesday, the FSC said it will open a case into alleged illegal logging, violations of traditional and human rights, destruction of high conservation value forests and significant conversion of forests as grounds for dissociation.

May 16, 2023
Sarawak: incentive to certify

Recently it was announced that logging concessions in Sarawak can be extended for an additional 30 years when they are certified. The domestic press has reported one company, Ta Ann Holdings, secured approval from the Sarawak authorities to renew the licence of all its timber concessions for 30 years until 2053.

May 16, 2023
Sarawak Indigenous NGO squeezed by defamation case, silenced from reporting alleged logging

For the fourth time, the hearing of a defamation suit filed by Malaysia-based timber company Samling against Indigenous rights group SAVE Rivers has been delayed.


According to the statement of claim filed by Samling plaintiffs, the case hinges on eight articles published on SAVE Rivers’ website between June 2020 and March 2021 involving allegations of illegal logging and a rush to gain sustainable forestry certification, which Samling says is untrue.


Last month, 160 organizations signed a letter describing this suit as a strategic litigation against public participation, or SLAPP case, noting that the fine — plaintiffs are asking for 5 million ringgit ($1.1 million) — would bankrupt SAVE Rivers.


The deferment of the trial comes days after the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization that operates a certification scheme for sustainable forestry, said the company will be investigated for alleged violations of the council’s policies.

May 12, 2023

The revelations mirror Deforestation Inc. findings from around the world, which showed how auditing firms hired as environmental verifiers often ignore or fail to identify serious transgressions by their clients.


Audit firms in Finland, Indonesia, Chile, India, and Germany are also mentioned.

May 8, 2023
Ta Ann timber licence gets 30-year extension: PEFC certification

Ta Ann Holdings Bhd has secured approval from the Sarawak authorities to renew the licence of all its timber concessions for 30 years until 2053.


The group’s timber concessions have been consolidated and amalgamated into three forest management units (FMUs) in the Song-Kapit region in central Sarawak, covering a total of 346,021 ha, according to executive chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi.


He said all the three FMUs – Kapit, Pasin and Raplex – have obtained the certificate for forest management (natural forest) under the Malaysian timber certification scheme (MTCS), which is endorsed by the programme for the endorsement of forest certification (PEFC).

May 4, 2023
Barclays quietly introduces tougher deforestation rules

Barclays has published new supply chain sustainability requirements for clients in forest-risk commodity sectors including beef and palm oil.

Barclay’s has added a new Forestry and Agricultural Commodities statement to its website this week. The statement stipulates that Barclays has “no appetite” to support companies directly involved in illegal forest clearance.


From the beginning of July,  beef producers will not be able to undertake work in areas of the Amazon rainforest cleared or converted after 2008.


Those producing beef in South America will also need to prove that they gave deforestation-free supply chains by 2025. By the end of 2025, these firms will need to update their policy commitments on deforestation and human rights, and to monitor and report on deforestation-free product volumes.

May 3, 2023
Barclays toughens deforestation rules for beef sector clients

Barclays (BARC.L) has told beef sector clients they must prevent deforestation in their South American supply chains, in a policy document seen by Reuters that toughens the bank’s stance but stops short of campaigners’ demands.

April 20, 2023
Fadillah slams EU for passing ‘unjust’ regulation against palm oil industry

Plantation and commodities minister Fadillah Yusof slammed the European Union today for passing the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), claiming that it was “unjust” to the palm oil industry in Malaysia.

Fadillah, who is also deputy prime minister, said the regulation was a deliberate effort to increase costs and erect barriers to the entry of Malaysia’s palm oil, which would affect over 450,000 smallholders in the industry.

April 6, 2023
PNG: Cracking down on illegal logging activities

Chairman for Law and Order, Edwin Maigen, called for the investigation, charging and harsh punishment of three Malaysians, whom he alleges are connected to logging companies operating in New Ireland. He accused Malaysian companies of monopolizingi the logging industry in PNG and harming the country’s people and infrastructure.

Acting Provincial Administrator and Forestry Enforcement Crime Unit Chairman Moses Taram expressed his concern about the incident and announced a crackdown on illegal activities at logging camps.

A task force comprising customs, immigration, police and labor will investigate logging camps to ensure that these companies operate within the legal limits.

March 23, 2023
Study: Malaysia has earmarked area 100 times Kuala Lumpur’s size for deforestation

In a study released this week titled “State of the Malaysian Rainforest 2023,” climate group RimbaWatch says it based its “landmark” deforestation prediction on a review of public documents such as forestry maps, project descriptions, land activity and real-estate alerts.

“From our analysis, we estimate that a further 2,346,601 hectares of forests in Malaysia have been earmarked for deforestation,” the study said.

“The study found that between 2017 and 2021, the entities driving deforestation projects the most were timber plantations at 41.6%, followed by palm oil plantations at 15.5%.”

Forestry authorities put timber and palm plantations under the categories of “forest plantations” and “forest covers,” the study said. But such plantations actually involve deforestation and “conversion of forest reserve lands into industrial monoculture plantations for commodities such as rubber and acacia.”

March 6, 2023
The state government has to double up efforts to focus on combating illegal logging activities in Sarawak

The state government has to double up efforts to focus on combating illegal logging activities in Sarawak, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) national council member Abun Sui Anyit.


Abun was responding to Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad’s revelation in the Dewan Rakyat recently on the high number of illegal logging cases in Malaysia.


Nik Nazmi said out of the 90 cases last year, 60 were recorded in Sarawak, while Perak recorded the second highest number of cases at 11, followed by Kelantan with 10.

February 16, 2023
Malaysian timber exports hold steady, but EU regulation may hinder growth

MALAYSIA’S timber export contributed RM23.25 billion to the country’s economy as of November last year, despite the drop in demand from Europe according to Malaysian Timber Industry Board’s (MTIB) report.

The country’s timber industry still has a few obstacles to overcome, mainly with the requirements in certification of the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that may limit the export-ing of timber products into multiple markets.

February 9, 2023
Indonesia, Malaysia to send palm oil envoys to EU over deforestation law

JAKARTA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s biggest palm oil producers, plan to send envoys to the European Union to discuss the impact of the bloc’s new deforestation law on their palm oil sectors, ministers from the Southeast Asian countries said on Thursday.

January 5, 2023
MACC detains civil servant, retiree for bribery over Kuala Lipis timber theft

KUANTAN: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has detained a civil servant and a government retiree over bribe allegations linked to timber theft in forest reserve areas around Kuala Lipis.

The two male suspects were believed to have received bribes of between RM500 and RM2,000 from a company owner from November 2019 until 2020 to cover up the illegal activity, according to a source.

The first suspect, aged 40, was arrested at about 2.30pm today (Jan 5) at the Raub MACC branch office when he turned up to give his statement, while the second suspect, aged 61, was nabbed at 7pm yesterday (Jan 4).

July 28, 2022
Deforestation intensifies in northern Malaysia’s most important water catchment
  • The Ulu Muda rainforest is one of the last large, continuous tracts of forest in the Malay Peninsula, providing vital habitat for countless species as well as water for millions of people in northern Malaysia.
  • Satellite data indicate deforestation activities are intensifying in the greater Ulu Muda landscape, including in protected areas such as Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.
  • Sources say the forest loss is likely due to legal logging.
  • Conservationists worry that the loss of Ulu Muda rainforest will have detrimental impacts on the region’s biodiversity and water security, as well as contribute to global climate change.
May 6, 2022
Illegal logging still rampant, says Energy and Natural Resources minister

Illegal logging activities are still rampant in almost all the states in Malaysia, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said today. However, he assured that the Forestry Departments of the affected states were closely monitoring the situation.

April 15, 2022
Outcry in Malaysia as failure to replant forests sparks ‘cover-up’ accusation
  • Critics of a government plantation scheme have slammed the program following revelations that only a fraction of forest reserves cleared for plantations over the past decade have actually been replanted.
  • An investigation by environmental news site Macaranga found that only 5% of the 77,331 hectares (191,089 acres) of forest reserves cleared in Pahang state for plantations between 2012 and 2020 were replanted.
  • A Pahang state opposition lawmaker has called the program a “cover-up” for a logging scheme, while an environmental activist has criticized the government for its lack of accountability.
March 4, 2022
Harsher penalties for forest criminals

Culprits convicted of plundering, damaging or starting fires in the nation’s forest reserves will be punished with heavier fines and longer jail terms.

Illegal loggers, for instance, are looking at a minimum of five to 20 years in jail and fines of up to RM1mil if convicted.

March 1, 2022
Two companies freed of illegal logging in forest reserve

Two logging companies were acquitted by the Sessions Court  on a charge with conducting illegal logging in a forest reserve in Tongod from 2016 to 2017.

January 26, 2022
Yes, there’s illegal logging, but it’s not serious, says Kelantan govt

The Kelantan state government has admitted that illegal logging and encroaching occur in the state’s permanent forest reserves but it is not as serious when compared with other states.

“Illegal logging does occur (in Kelantan). There are villagers who want to open orchards, plant durian trees and oil palm, so they cut down trees in forest reserves,” Kelantan deputy menteri besar Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said.

January 19, 2022
As Malaysian state resumes log exports, Indigenous advocates warn of fallout

Effective Jan. 3, the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo has ended a ban on exporting unprocessed logs.

The ban was put in place in 2018 in a bid to bolster the state’s timber processing industry; critics warn that overturning it will lead to an increase in both legal and illegal logging in the state’s remaining forests.

January 7, 2022
Kota Kinabalu MP: Lifting timber export ban an open invitation to illegal loggers

A Sabah DAP lawmaker has panned the government’s decision to lift the ban on timber exports, which has been in place since 2018.

Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said the move could trigger a recurrence of illegal logging activities, with little enforcement to prevent it from happening.

January 3, 2022
Malaysia opposition urges Pahang govt to look into illegal logging in flood's aftermath

The Pahang state government has been urged by the opposition to conduct an immediate investigation on what was claimed to be illegal and uncontrolled logging in the state.

Publications Click for publications related to Malaysia
While subsistence agriculture and logging still contribute to deforestation, commercial-scale agricultural expansion is now recognized as by far the single largest driver of deforestation worldwide and thus also of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change. Several initiatives have quantified how much and where deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture, and even how much of this […]
Key Resources
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Export Restrictions
Click here to download a database of forest policy export restrictions.