UN 32/6.1301-78-04
Technical Report 3

(in the framework of the Global Environment Monitoring System - GEMS)



Report prepared
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as cooperating agency with the United Nations Environment Programme

First printing 1981

Second printing 1984

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and of the United Nations Environment Programme concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-101105-2

The copyright in this book is vested in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and in the United Nations Environment Programme. Applications for permission to reproduce this book, in whole or in part, by any method or process, should be addressed, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction desired, to the Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.


In accordance with their mandate and the recommendations of their statutory bodies, FAO and UNEP agreed to undertake a reassessment of the present situation and current evolution of the forest resources of the tropical world, within the framework of the Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS). The FAO/UNEP Tropical Forest Resources Assessment project, signed on 8 November 1978 by both organizations, started on 1 December 1978 and was completed in June 1981.

This report of the assessment in Asia is in two parts. The first briefly describes the methods used and provides the results for the region, the second presents 16 detailed “country briefs”. Two other reports cover tropical America (in Spanish) and tropical Africa (in English and French) respectively and the project conclusions are summarized in a fourth report, published in each of the above languages.

The present total area of the closed forests in the 16 countries studied representing tropical Asia has been found equal to some 305 million ha. Annual deforestation sensu stricto, i.e. clearing for agriculture and other land uses, has been estimated at 1.8 million ha (or an annual deforestation rate of 0.60%) and seems to level off at this amount, mostly because there are few unprotected forests left in the areas of high population pressure. To this figure must be added about 0.2 million ha of deforestation of open woodlands which are relatively less extensive than in the other two main tropical regions. In addition to these processes of forest clearing, various forms of degradation are taking their toll on the different types of woody vegetation, especially through over-exploitation for fuelwood. Intensive management applies to one fifth only of the productive closed forests, being concentrated to the extent of 85% in one single country. Plantations are gaining momentum, especially for fuelwood production and other non-industrial purposes. Although the ratio of area planted to area deforested every year is still less than a quarter, it is worth noting that 40% of the plantations at the end of 1980 were established in the five preceding years.

The work has been conceived and carried out by the project coordinator, Mr. J.P. Lanly, assisted for tropical Asia by the following experts (in alphabetical order): Messrs. S. Andel (2 countries), P. Coppin (2 countries), J. Guellec (interpretation of satellite imagery), Y.S. Rao (regional synthesis), R.M. Saxena (5 countries), K.D. Singh (2 countries) and A. van der Zon (3 countries). The analysis of the forest resources situation of India and Burma and the drafting of corresponding country briefs were carried out under an agreement with FAO by the Indian Preinvestment Survey of Forest Resources (Messrs, C.L. Bhatia, J.P. Aggarwal and R.M. Saxena) and the Burmese Forest Department (Mr. Shwe Kyaw) respectively. The many experts and institutions consulted which kindly collaborated are gratefully acknowledged and their list given on the next page.

The study is both timely and appropriate as it presents factual, quantitative data needed to support policy decisions covering the conservation, development and wise utilization of the present resources of tropical Asia. We contemplate the revision of these initial data over the coming years in order to keep governments and the international community correctly informed as to the state of tropical forest resources and their evolution at any given time.

M.A. Flores Rodas
Assistant Director General
Forestry Department


FAO is greatly indebted to the following institutions and persons who contributed to the study:

Bangladesh:Ministry of Agriculture - Inspector General of Forests
Bhutan:Office of the Director of Forests (A.P. Misra)
Brunei:Office of the Conservator of Forests (Hj Mohd. Yassin B. Ampuan Salleh)
Burma:Forest Department (Shwe Kyaw, Lin Thaung)
India:Ministry of Agriculture - Inspector General of Forests
Preinvestment Survey of Forest Resources (C.L. Bathia, J.P. Aggarwal, R.M. Saxena)
Indonesia:Directorate General of Forestry - Directorate of Forestry Planning/Bina Program (Piran Wiroatmodjo)
Directorate General of Forestry - Directorate of Afforestation and Land Rehabilitation
Perhum Perhutani Forest State Corporation (Hartono Wirjodarmodjo)
BIOTROP/SEAMEO Regional Center for Tropical Biology (Ishemat Soerianegara, Y. Laumonier)
Nepal:Department of Forests (P.K. Manandhar, U.B. Shestra)
Tribhuwan University - Institute of Sciences
Pakistan:Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Cooperatives - Inspector General of Forests/Additional Secretary
Papua New Guinea:Office of Forests (G.S. Bell)
The Philippines:Bureau of Forestry Development
Sri Lanka:Ministry of Lands and Land Development - Conservator of Forests
Thailand:Royal Forest Department (Boonchana Klankamsorn, Sathi Chaiyapechara, Swat Nicharat)
Department of Land Development - Land Classification Division (Manu Omakput)
Department of Public Welfare - Division of Land Settlements (Vichit Piyarom)
Kasetsart University - School of Forestry (Sathit Wacharakitti - Prasan Pradistapongs)
National Research Council - Thailand Remote Sensing Program (Suvit Vilbusreth)
Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower Mekong Basin (J. Ceruse)

In addition to the authors mentioned in the foreword the following FAO forestry experts assisted in the compilation of the data and in the revision of the country briefs: C. Chandrasekharan (various countries of Tropical Asia), J.G. Devitt (Burma), R.G. Dixon (Indonesia), D. Dun (Malaysia), A. Fearnside (Nepal), R. Fenton (Malaysia), I. Hutchinson (Malaysia), J.K. Jackson (Thailand), B. Kingston (Indonesia), D.O. Nelson (Nepal), E. Pelinck (Nepal) and K. Watanabe (Nepal).

Rome © FAO and UNEP 1981

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This electronic document has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) software. FAO declines all responsibility for any discrepancies that may exist between the present document and its original printed version.

Part I


Chapter I    Introduction

Objectives of the study
Project activities

Chapter II   Methodology

Concepts and classifications
Interpretation of satellite imagery (Landsat)
Presentations of results

Chapter III   Forest resources of tropical Asia

Present situation
Present trends

Part II



Laos (Lao)
        Peninsular Malaysia
Papua New Guinea
The Philippines
Sri Lanka
Viet Nam