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Malaysia Review 3 (Jan-Jul '21): East Coast Pen. Malaysia - Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang

Welcome to the third installment of the Malaysia review. We put this off a little while because we expected this to be a little more intense than the last two. Some issues we encountered this time around were a few cloudy images and difficulty in visualizing peat swamp areas that were cut – they appear dark brown due to black waters pooling instead of the bright orange characteristic of clear-cut forest areas. We’ll be covering the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia this time.

Before we proceed, here are the raw images used for the analyses for Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3


1. we are using the 2021 GLAD dataset* (up to 13 Jul) along with

2. Planet satellite images (register free account).

3. Remember to take note of the scale bar to make sense of the size of clear-cut areas when viewing slider images

*note: this means forest loss from 2020 will not be included

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 explore particularly ghastly-looking areas with the free Flourish slider tool.

Click on the slider on the middle of the images with the Flourish logos (bottom right) and drag the slider either direction to compare Jun 2020 vs Jun 2021 images.

Let’s begin.


In recent years, there has been no shortage of controversy with Kelantan’s permanent reserved forest (PRF) areas, ranging from durian mega-plantations, rubber plantations, orang asli grievances, and just lots of deforestation. If images of deforestation affect you emotionally, I suggest preparing some emotional support before proceeding any further. Let’s begin with an overview of Kelantan (Figure 1).

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

Beginning from the north, impacted FRs & PAs include:

1. Jedok FR

2. Sungai Durian FR

3. Sokortaku FR

4. Sungai Rek FR

5. Jentiang FR

6. Serasa FR

7. Relai FR

8. Lebir FR

9. Gunung Stong Selatan FR

10. Balah FR

11. Berangkat FR

12. Limau Kasturi FR

13. Sungai Terah FR

14. Nenggiri FR

15. Perias FR

16. Batu Papan FR

17. Ulu Galas FR

18. Sungai Betis FR

19. Sungai Brok FR

Here come the sliders

2. Sungai Durian FR

Figure 1.1 Affected areas in Sungai Durian FR.

3. Sokortaku FR

Figure 1.2a Affected areas (southern portion) in Sokortaku FR.

Figure 1.2b Affected areas (northern portion) in Sokortaku FR.

7. Relai FR

Figure 1.3 Affected areas in Relai FR. Portions of this FR has probably been degazetted as there are large-scale oil palm cooperatives operating within its boundaries.

8. Lebir FR

Lebir FR has long been touted as a site for a dam to mitigate the annual floods that the state suffers. It is unfortunate that the solution proposed to mitigate flood damage caused by too much deforestation, is more deforestation. The project received more support in Jul 2019 when Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali announced that the Federal Government will give priority to the development of the site. The sizeable damage we see in four areas below are probably reflective of that decision.

Figure 1.4a Affected areas in Lebir FR (Northernmost).

Figure 1.4b Affected areas in Lebir FR (middle-north).

Figure 1.4c Affected areas in Lebir FR (middle-south).

Figure 1.4d Affected areas in Lebir FR (Southernmost).

9. Gunung Stong Selatan FR

Figure 1.5 Affected areas in Gunung Stong Selatan FR.

11. Berangkat FR

Figure 1.6 Affected areas in Berangkat FR.

14. Nenggiri FR

Like Lebir FR, Nenggiri has also long been discussed as a dam site. T