From forest landscape to agricultural landscape in the developing tropical country of Malaysia

Pattern, process, and their significance on policy

Saiful Arif Abdullah, Adnan A. Hezri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Agricultural expansion and deforestation are spatial processes of land transformation that impact on landscape pattern. In peninsular Malaysia, the conversion of forested areas into two major cash crops-rubber and oil palm plantations-has been identified as driving significant environmental change. To date, there has been insufficient literature studying the link between changes in landscape patterns and land-related development policies. Therefore, this paper examines: (i) the links between development policies and changes in land use/land cover and landscape pattern and (ii) the significance and implications of these links for future development policies. The objective is to generate insights on the changing process of land use/land cover and landscape pattern as a functional response to development policies and their consequences for environmental conditions. Over the last century, the development of cash crops has changed the country from one dominated by natural landscapes to one dominated by agricultural landscapes. But the last decade of the century saw urbanization beginning to impact significantly. This process aligned with the establishment of various development policies, from land development for agriculture between the mid 1950s and the 1970s to an emphasis on manufacturing from the 1980s onward. Based on a case study in Selangor, peninsular Malaysia, a model of landscape pattern change is presented. It contains three stages according to the relative importance of rubber (first stage: 1900-1950s), oil palm (second stage: 1960s-1970s), and urban (third stage: 1980s-1990s) development that influenced landscape fragmentation and heterogeneity. The environmental consequences of this change have been depicted through loss of biodiversity, geohazard incidences, and the spread of vector-borne diseases. The spatial ecological information can be useful to development policy formulation, allowing diagnosis of the country's "health" and sustainability. The final section outlines the usefulness of landscape analysis in the policy-making process to prevent further fragmentation of the landscape and forest loss in Malaysia in the face of rapid economic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-917
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Management
Volume42
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Fingerprint

Palm oil
Land use
Crops
Rubber
agricultural land
Deforestation
Biodiversity
Agriculture
Sustainable development
Health
Economics
rubber
land cover
fragmentation
land use
policy
oil
functional response
policy making
deforestation

Keywords

  • Agricultural expansion
  • Development policy
  • Forest transition
  • Malaysia
  • Oil palm
  • Sustainable landscape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Pollution

Cite this

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abstract = "Agricultural expansion and deforestation are spatial processes of land transformation that impact on landscape pattern. In peninsular Malaysia, the conversion of forested areas into two major cash crops-rubber and oil palm plantations-has been identified as driving significant environmental change. To date, there has been insufficient literature studying the link between changes in landscape patterns and land-related development policies. Therefore, this paper examines: (i) the links between development policies and changes in land use/land cover and landscape pattern and (ii) the significance and implications of these links for future development policies. The objective is to generate insights on the changing process of land use/land cover and landscape pattern as a functional response to development policies and their consequences for environmental conditions. Over the last century, the development of cash crops has changed the country from one dominated by natural landscapes to one dominated by agricultural landscapes. But the last decade of the century saw urbanization beginning to impact significantly. This process aligned with the establishment of various development policies, from land development for agriculture between the mid 1950s and the 1970s to an emphasis on manufacturing from the 1980s onward. Based on a case study in Selangor, peninsular Malaysia, a model of landscape pattern change is presented. It contains three stages according to the relative importance of rubber (first stage: 1900-1950s), oil palm (second stage: 1960s-1970s), and urban (third stage: 1980s-1990s) development that influenced landscape fragmentation and heterogeneity. The environmental consequences of this change have been depicted through loss of biodiversity, geohazard incidences, and the spread of vector-borne diseases. The spatial ecological information can be useful to development policy formulation, allowing diagnosis of the country's {"}health{"} and sustainability. The final section outlines the usefulness of landscape analysis in the policy-making process to prevent further fragmentation of the landscape and forest loss in Malaysia in the face of rapid economic development.",
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