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Malaysia Review 1 (Jan-Jul '21): NW Peninsular Malaysia - Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Perak

Hutanwatch has been out of action for a while now. We have decided to restart the engine with a series of state-level analyses for Malaysia using the 2021 GLAD dataset (up to 13 Jul). What better time than now since there is open-access to Planet’s satellite imagery, courtesy of NICFI (register your free account here if you want to access satellite imagery for the tropics & sub-tropics updated monthly).

We will structure each section with

i) a state-level overview followed by

ii) a list of affected forest reserves (FRs) and protected areas (PAs) – if any detected – and

iii) zoom down to particularly ghastly-looking areas, where we will be introducing a new slider tool by Flourish (it’s free, of course).

This may well be a recurring series that we do either yearly, or twice-a-year – we haven’t quite decided. Anyhow, let’s begin.

Before we proceed, here are all the raw images used for this review


For the year 2021, Perlis has seen little action in terms of forest degradation in the form of GLAD alerts. The largest hotspot detected is at the southeast border with Kedah on farming land, probably signifying replanting activity. We won’t be zooming down to details for Perlis, but do click on the image (Figure 1) if you’d like to view it in high-resolution.

Figure 1 GLAD alerts (2021) overlaid with PRF (2011) and Protected Areas in Perlis (click image to view in high-resolution).


Kedah shows a noticeable number of hotspots, but most of them are outside of forest reserves (FRs) and protected areas (PAs). We have labeled affected areas with small, white numbers in the map below (Figure 2), after which we will focus on areas of concern (ghastly bits).

Figure 2 GLAD alerts (2021) overlaid with PRF (2011) and Protected Areas in Kedah (click image to view in high-resolution).

The list of impacted FRs (as labeled in Figure 1) is shown below.

1. Gunung Inas FR (near SE border with Perak)

2. Rimba Teloi (Selatan)

3. Rimba Teloi (Tengah)

4. Ulu Muda Tengah (looks like a logging road being built eastward from the lake toward the eastern Thai border)

5. Sungai Badak (northern border with Thailand)

6. Koh Moi

7. Bukit Perangin

Now, some highlights showing areas of concern using the new slider tool.

1. Gunung Inas FR (near SE border with Perak)

Figure 2.1 Affected areas in Gunung Inas FR.

2. & 3. Rimba Teloi (Selatan & Tengah)

Figure 2.2 Affected areas in Rimba Teloi (Selatan & Tengah) FRs.

4. Ulu Muda Tengah

Figure 2.3 Affected areas in Ulu Muda Tengah FR.

It sure looks like a logging road being built eastward from the lake toward the eastern Thai border. A sign of things to come?

5. Sungai Badak & 6. Koh Moi

Figure 2.4 Affected areas in Sungai Badak & Koh Moi FRs.

7. Bukit Perangin

Figure 2.5 Affected areas in Bukit Perangin FR.

Pulau Pinang

Like Perlis, Pulau Pinang has not seen much forest loss in 2021. Of course, this is in part because there isn’t much FRs nor PAs left. Of hotspots detected within FRs and PAs (Figure 3), only the very tips of the following were affected:

1. Bukit Kerajaan

2. Balik Pulau

3. Bukit Gemuruh

Figure 3 GLAD alerts (2021) overlaid with PRF (2011) and Protected Areas in Pulau Pinang (click image to view in high-resolution).

We won't be zooming into either of the listed areas.


To end the first review of the series, we focus on hotspots within Perak’s FRs and PAs. Let's begin with the overview below (Figure 4).

Figure 4 GLAD alerts (2021) overlaid with PRF (2011) and Protected Areas in Perak (click image to view in high-resolution).

We will be listing affected FRs beginning from the north. Bolded entries will be featured in the slider section.

1. Temenggor - known production forest

2. Gerik

3. Belukar Semang

4. Kenderong

5. Bintang Hijau (Hulu Perak)

6. Bintang Hijau (Larut/Matang)

7. Bukit Larut (Larut/Matang)

8. Piah - likely degazetted

9. Korbu

10. Kledang Saiong (Kuala Kangsar)

11. Bukit Kinta

12. Bubu (Kuala Kangsar)

13. Pulau Kalumpang

14. Pulau Selinsing

15. Cabai Malai

16. Sungai Baharu

17. Sungai Sepetang

18. Pulau Sangga Kecil

19. Pulau Sangga Besar (Mangrove – probably degazetted)

20. Pulau Trong Utara

21. Pulau Trong Selatan

22. Sungai Temerlok

23. Pulau Pasir Hitam

24. Segari Melintang

25. Bukit Tapah

26. Bukit Slim

27. Gunung Besout (Hillforest – probably degazetted)

1. Temenggor FR

Figure 4.1 Affected areas in Temenggor FR.

4. Kenderong & 5. Bintang Hijau (Hulu Perak) FRs

Figure 4.2 Affected areas in Kenderong & Bintang Hijau (Hulu Perak) FRs.

8. Piah FR

Figure 4.3 Affected areas in Piah FR.

9. Korbu FR

Figure 4.4 Affected areas in Korbu FR.

12. Bubu (Kuala Kangsar) FR

Figure 4.5 Affected areas in Bubu (Kuala Kangsar) FR.

19. Pulau Sangga Besar FR

Figure 4.6 Affected areas in Pulau Sangga Besar FR. Likely degazetted, but still sad that mangrove forests are still being developed.

27. Gunung Besout FR

Figure 4.7 Affected areas in Gunung Besout FR. It's pretty likely completely degazetted, but doesn't "gunung" imply that the area is sloped and likely unfit for development based on Environmentally-sensitive area (ESA) criteria?

And that's it for the first analysis of this series. Depending on what we find in the next analyses, the best/worst is yet to come! Before the finger-pointing begins, we'd like to say first that we are not accusing foul play anywhere (we'll leave that to more knowledgeable readers). Rather, we are pointing out forest loss within forest reserves and protected areas based on available datasets - if more updated data are made available by the relevant agencies, I'm sure there would have been less hotspots within FRs and PAs. Till then, this is the best we've got.