Most tropical rainforest in Asia is found in Indonesia (on scattered islands), the Malay peninsula (Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar), and Laos and Cambodia. Forest once covered a much greater area in Asia, but logging and clearing of forests for agriculture has destroyed much of the region's rainforests.

The loss of rainforests has caused many problems in Asia. For example, during the 2004 tsunami disaster damage was worse in areas that had suffered heavy deforestation. The burning of forests for land clearing also causes air pollution.

Southeast Asia's rainforests are some of the oldest on Earth. Some scientists believe that forests in present-day Malaysia may have existed over 100 million years ago.

Some southeast Asian forests are known for their orangutans, tigers, and elephants. On the island of Sumatra, rhinos, tigers, orangutans, and elephants can be found living in the same forest Ὰ the only place on Earth where this is the case.

Map showing the Asian rainforests. Click to enlarge.

Statistics on tropical forest cover and loss in Asia-Pacific (including Australia)

CountryPrimary forest extent
2020
(million hectares)
Primary forest loss
2010-2019
Tree cover extent
2020
(million hectares)
Tree cover change
2010-2019
Papua New Guinea31.9 -1.7% 41.9 -2.4%
China1.7 -2.4% 38.5 -6.5%
Myanmar13.5 -2.8% 38.2 -6.6%
India9.9 -2.0% 30.2 -3.8%
Malaysia13.3 -11.0% 23.8 -16.9%
Thailand5.8 -0.9% 17.7 -6.9%
Philippines4.4 -2.1% 17.4 -4.4%
Laos7.5 -6.8% 15.4 -14.4%
Vietnam6.1 -7.1% 13.5 -13.2%
Australia0.0 -0.3% 12.9 -10.0%
Cambodia3.1 -22.8% 5.9 -22.0%
Nepal0.7 -0.2% 4.8 -0.4%
Sri Lanka0.6 -0.9% 3.3 -3.4%
Solomon Islands1.9 -4.5% 2.6 -4.9%
Bhutan1.6 -0.3% 2.5 -0.6%
Taiwan0.6 -0.3% 2.2 -0.8%
Bangladesh0.1 -3.4% 2.1 -6.1%

 

Annoyed by these ads? Use the advertising-free version of Mongabay-Kids.

 

Previous | Next

 

Review questions

Additional resources