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Sustainable Malaysia: Initiatives for Land Conservation and Environmental Health
Sustainable Malaysia: Initiatives for Land Conservation and Environmental Health

Malaysia is recognized worldwide as a carbon sink, renowned for its vast forested area, sprawling coastlines, and diverse ecosystems. Malaysia is considered one of the seventeen mega bio-diverse nations, collectively hosting a majority of the world's plant and animal species. Of Malaysia's 330,803 square kilometers, with approximately 58,2% is dense forest, and 24% is farmland. These valuable natural assets are threatened by urbanization and the ever-worsening climate crisis. Like all developing nations, Malaysia weighs the pros of industrialization with the cons of degrading its natural resources to urbanize further. Under increasing pressure to achieve its net zero goals by 2050, Malaysia aims to reduce its economy-wide carbon intensity by 45% by 2030 compared to the 2005 level, revolving around a three-step process to implement nature-based solutions (NBS).

Forestry Protection

According to the Securing Our Future: Net Zero Pathways For Malaysia report by BCG and WWF, Forestry Department Peninsular (FDPM) has three forestry categories, and each is provided differing protections based on the designation. Permanent Forest Estates (PFEs) are designed to be extractable whilst also being renewable sources of lumber that's preserved and replanted. A Stateland Forest, sit's in long-term storage and can be co-opted by the (PEE's) system but is designed to be an option for development in the future. Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) are national parks, wildlife conservatories, and nature reserves. Malaysia has committed to maintaining forest cover above 50% as part of its international environmental obligations, and state-level policies further reinforce these goals by emphasizing the protection of forest reserves and biodiversity. Plans include designating some of the Stateland Forest or (PEES) to commercial use through external carbon markets not only supplying financing but defraying the cost of maintaining the land from the government. Additionally, the Malaysian government wants to prioritize sustainable economic growth through programs like the Sabah and Kuamut pilot project. By integrating sustainable agricultural practices and reforestation efforts, Malaysia is ensuring that economic growth doesn't come at the expense of environmental health.

Soil Health 

The forestry department has placed strong emphasis on the importance of maintaining soil health across all its designations. Trees, foliage, and other vegetation are key contributors to carbon capture, but the real hero is soil. Per Ecological Society of America more than 75 percent of the carbon sequestered during photosynthesis is stored in the soil. It's crucial that regulation is placed on polluting industries to ensure dumping and toxic run-off does not continue to damage soil chemical composition. Malaysia's plan for soil reinvigoration revolves around the scaling up of cover crop implication and a program known as the "4 R's". While both are fertilization methods, cover crop planting uses a natural yet slow process of strengthening land through a diverse and chemically rich area of vegetation. The "4 Rs" is a nutrient stewardship program– right source, right rate, right time, and right place – in fertilizer application. This approach optimizes the use of fertilizers, reducing nitrogenous soil inputs and associated emissions, which have a significant impact to reduce global warming potential. 

Sustainable Agriculture

Malaysia's agriculture sector, responsible for 11MtCO2e of carbon annually, is a growing concern. However, the forestry department has devised plans to combat this. Agroecology, a blend of ecological and social principles, is at the forefront of sustainable agriculture and food systems. It aims to build stronger communities, empower farmers, and increase the value they get from their work, leading to numerous social and environmental benefits. A key part of this approach is agroforestry, which involves adding trees and shrubs to agricultural lands to boost carbon capture, improve soil health, and retain water. These advances could improve the productivity of farms and therefore yields. Especially in key crops like paddy, where current yields are significantly below target levels. Rectifying this ensures food security, which reduces land use. Programs like the Semi-Aerobic Rice Intensification (SARI) aim to improve agricultural productivity while reducing environmental impact. SARI promotes a more sustainable method of rice cultivation by optimizing water management, reducing methane emissions, and enhancing soil health. This technique involves periodic drying and re-flooding of paddy fields, which not only conserves water but also minimizes the anaerobic conditions that lead to high methane emissions. 

Finally, the challenging part of implementing Malaysia's net zero initiative is ensuring it is economically viable to extract resources and farm in a sustainable manner. While transitioning away from short-term agriculture practices and decisions like dangerous chemical fertilizers and mass deforestation, the government must uphold the interests of its people. In 2014, Green Investment Tax Allowances (GITA) and Green Income Tax Incentives (GITE) were introduced to increase mass adoption of sustainable practices and technologies in agriculture and other economic drivers. Malaysia is committed to becoming a global leader in climate tech and action, demanding that its natural assets be protected and maintained for generations. 

To learn more about Malaysia's burgeoning climate policy, please tune into Fairatmos’s upcoming AtmosTalk as well as read more of our wonderful articles.


About Fairatmos

Fairatmos is a climate technology company that helps you to discover, develop and deliver high quality carbon offset projects at scale. We believe in the power of nature to heal and remove greenhouse gasses from our atmosphere with the help of technology.

Our technology leverages remote sensing and satellite images to help communities and companies to discover their forest carbon credit potential, converting them from logging the forest to preserving and rehabilitating the forest confidently. 

With high precision monitoring technology, we help to track carbon project performance and integrity, ensuring the social impact and biodiversity preservation. With confidence in integrity, we connect carbon offsetting companies to quality projects. 

Today we have worked with more than 200 asset owners, processing more than 18M hectares of forest carbon potential across South East Asia to deliver the promise of inclusivity.

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