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Continental Southeast Asia embraces some of our planet�s most biologically and physically complex ecosystems. The region�s forests range from the temperate mountain forests bordering the Tibetan plateau to the north through tropical deciduous forests to the humid tropical forests in the south. Collectively the forests cover more than one hundred million hectares and are home to many hundreds of tree species and countless other species of flora and fauna.

The histories, languages, religions and social structures of the peoples occupying the region are likewise hugely diverse. Whilst it is self evident that this diversity is a vital element of the human wealth of our planet it also leads to wildly different attitudes to the roles, value and use of forests. Forestry issues in Continental Southeast Asia are probably the most complex in the world. Tribal peoples for whom the forest is both an essential life-support system and intrinsic element of social structure and function are now competing with farmers, commercial loggers, mining operations, plantations and agribusiness for forest. Rapid population increase in the region, improvements in transport, reliance on the region by much of the world�s tropical timber trade and government driven transmigration or resettlement programmes are all taking their toll.

This map all too clearly shows that forests in the region are no longer the green blanket they once were. The consequences of this forest loss are felt not just in the region, but throughout the planet. Deforestation modifies land surface characteristics and affects gas, energy and water exchange on the planetary scale; some evidence already points to localised modification of the region�s monsoon system.

Additional information

Authors: STIBIG H-J, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);BEUCHLE R, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 20856 EN (2003), Various paging and map. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9843 or +39-033278-9864 Fax: +39-033278-9623 E-mail:
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