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close this bookSouth-East Asia's Environmental Future: The Search for Sustainability (UNU, 1993, 422 pages)
View the documentForeword
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAbbreviations and glossary
View the documentNotes on contributors
Open this folder and view contentsPart I - The driving forces of change
Open this folder and view contentsPart II - Climatic change and variability
Open this folder and view contentsPart III - Selected issues: Change and the environment
Open this folder and view contentsPart IV - Selected issues: places and people
Open this folder and view contentsPart V - Conclusions and recommendations
View the documentBibliography


IN May 1991, close to 40 leading experts from South-East Asia and the Pacific gathered in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the international conference 'Toward a Sustainable Environmental Future for the Southeast Asian Region'. The conference organized by the United Nations University (UNU) in collaboration with Gadjah Mada University (the local host), the Australian National University (ANU) and the East-West Center of Hawaii-was conceived with the aim of providing the opportunity to address some of the critical environmental concerns facing the region and to enhance the understanding of environmental issues related to development in the region.

This book edited by the scientific co-ordinator of the conference, Dr Harold Brookfield, Emeritus Professor in the Research School of Pacific Studies, with the collaboration of Ms Yvonne Byron, Research Officer in the Department of Human Geography, both at the ANU-is based on the papers commissioned for the conference by the UNU.

The UNU is both an academic institution and an autonomous organ of the United Nations (UN). The UNU works on the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concerns of the UN and its agencies. One of the five focal programme areas of the UNU-Sustaining Global Life-Support Systems centres on issues of the environment and sustainable development.

The Yogyakarta conference was the first in a series of regional conferences within this UNU research and training programme. The programme focuses on the complex interaction of the human and natural environments, emphasizing the importance of local and regional ecological sustainability through appropriate environmental and resource management. Several research efforts within the programme have dealt with critical zones that are particularly vulnerable to environmental change as well as regions in the humid Tropics and mountains and highlands. The research is carried out through networks consisting of an international community of leading scholars, both in the UNU research and training centres and in other collaborating academic institutions around the world.

The second conference in this series, 'Sustainable Environmental and Resource Management Futures for Sub-Saharan Africa', will be organized in Accra, Ghana, as a collaborative effort between the UNU and its Institute of Natural Resources in Africa (UNU/INRA) and the University of Ghana in March 1993.

The UNU is grateful to the editors of this book as well as all the contributors and participants in the Yogyakarta conference for their valuable contributions. We hope that the book will advance the debate on sustainable development in South-East Asia and throughout the world.

December 1992



The Conference on Which This Book Is Based

IN May 1991, a conference was held at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on 'Toward a Sustainable Environmental Future for the Southeast Asian Region'. The conference was organized by the United Nations University (UNU), with the participation of Gadjah Mada University, the Research School of Pacific Studies in the Australian National University, and the East-West Center Environment and Policy Institute. As described in the Foreword, this conference was the first in a series held by the UNU on environmentally sustainable development in the major regions of the tropical developing world.

Brookfield was charged with organizing the conference, and then with editing this book, which is its product. The task of assembling a team of speakers and discussants occupied several months during which, together with Dr Juha Uitto, the UNU Academic Officer responsible for the conference, he tried to gather experts who would be both competent and well-informed, and who would also represent most parts of the region. Most, but not all those invited, were both willing and able to attend, and they proved to be a very good team indeed. Those assembled in Yogyakarta included strong representation from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, rather fewer from Thailand, one from Brunei, but no one from Singapore. Unfortunately, it was not possible to attract any speakers from the socialist countries, though we tried; this is an unfortunate gap carried forward into the book. There was good representation from Australia, where academic interest in the region is strong, and also from the East-West Center in Honolulu. One speaker came from Japan, one from Taiwan and other participants were drawn from Germany and Ireland.

The Meaning of 'a Sustainable Environmental Future'

The reader will quickly see that few of the authors and discussants can identify much that is 'sustainable' in the present and prospective pattern of resource use, yet many have constructive ideas about what should be done within the next 10-20 years, which is the time horizon addressed, that is, up to the year 2010. The term 'sustainability' came into the development literature only during the 1980s, though many of the ideas embodied are much older, especially in agriculture and forestry. As used in the influential Brundtland report (World Commission, 1987: 43), the term means 'development that meets the goals of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. Since the 'goals of the present' certainly include improvements in wealth and welfare, and hence continued economic growth, this immediately raises serious questions for the environmental future. In this region, the population is growing quite rapidly, and the achievement of rapid economic growth has depended heavily on expanded utilization of natural resources, together with industrialization and urbanization, and increasing use of energy. This is not a region in which a 'steady state'-in which resources are used only at their rate of natural regeneration or reproduction (Daly and Cobb, 1989)-is socially, politically or demographically feasible.

In so far as renewable resources are concerned, the proper meaning of sustainability has to be that resources, while yielding an economically satisfactory reward, are at the same time maintained or improved, requiring a considerable input of 'adaptive human artifice' (Brookfield, 1991: 51). It requires that natural capital be augmented, rather than drawn down (Pearce, Barbier and Markandya, 1990: 15). In regard to non-renewable resources, ultimately sustainable use is impossible, but the rate of depletion needs to be optimized with due regard to the possibilities of substitution (Pearce and Turner, 1990: 24). In particular, non-renewable resources need to be quite strictly defined, and resources that are renewable only in the long term of many decades should not-if sustainability is the object-be treated as though they were non-renewable and quickly 'mined' to exhaustion.

These are exacting standards, but it is by such standards that sustainability must be judged. The question of 'augmentation of natural capital' acquires particular importance in a region of rapid demographic and economic growth where, without such augmentation, an insufficiency of resources to meet the needs of future generations can be predicted with certainty. Many forms of renewable natural capital can be improved and augmented, but augmentation creates a serious dilemma since this can be done only at a price. The price is the cost of foregoing some immediate benefit from use of the resource in order to prolong its existence or enhance its qualities. In an earlier era of slower change, this price was quite often and widely paid, and the spectacular terracing of steeplands in the Mountain province of the Philippines is perhaps the most striking illustration in the SouthEast Asian region. Moreover, the price is still being paid by-as Nibbering (1991a: 130) remarks in a specific context, but with wider application-'farmers who are largely dependent on the few natural resources they may control will go to great lengths to conserve those resources as soon as they perceive them to be endangered'. However, in a time of rapid change, and of high and rising expectations, the price is paid much less readily; the cost is in lower short-term gain and slower growth. Writer after writer in this book underscores this basic problem.

Questions of Global Sustainability

The main concern of most authors in this book is with the internal problems of a large developing region, and with global environmental change and variability as it impinges on the region. However, the questions arising from world-wide interest in the fate of the tropical rain forests, and of this region's contribution to pollution of the global atmosphere and seas, are raised at several points in the book. The issue of a wider responsibility for stewardship of a section of the global commons underlies a good deal of the discussion, though it surfaces only in a few instances. One area in which it arises, however, is in the realization that South-East Asia-the most successful developing part of the Tropics since the early 1980s- has some responsibility to lead the way towards a more sustainable management of the tropical lands, and a set of lifestyle goals that are not simply a copy of those in the affluent and profligate West. At the conference, this argument was the particular contribution of the doyen of South-East Asian environmentalists-Otto Soemarwoto-in many of his wise interventions. In final remarks that are not reported in the text, he told the participants to talk less and to do more develop a sustainable environmental future by example.

The 'South-East Asian Region'

It was decided at an early stage to draw the boundaries of the 'South-East Asian region' widely. Although the problems of the six Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei and Singapore-dominated the conference, attention was also paid to the mainland states of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and also to Papua New Guinea; it was reasoned that since Irian Jaya is included as a part of Indonesia, the other half of the great island should be thought as much a part of the larger South-East Asian region as is Myanmar. The problems of defining the region gained an amusing twist during the meeting when it was learned that some of the scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in their wisdom, defined a South-East Asia which included India and excluded the larger part of ASEAN (Mitchell et al., 1990:156-8). Unfortunately, this error is being repeated in more widely accessible literature where it could lead to false conclusions. One such is in Parry's (1990:17-18) low-cost statement on agriculture and climatic change.

As defined at the conference, the South-East Asian region spans both hemispheres and extends through 60 degrees of longitude. Except for the north of Myanmar, all of it lies within the Tropics, but it covers a very wide range of environments. Geologically, its varied landscape is dominated by the mountain and island arcs formed by convergence of the Indo-Australian, Eurasian and Philippine plates to the south, north and east. It includes sites in which agriculture is as old as anywhere else in the world, and in which great civilizations flourished during the Dark Ages of Europe. Yet in the eighteenth century, most of it was sparsely peopled and open to the wave of Western colonization that, from a few footholds, spread over almost all the region by the end of the nineteenth century. It was a major theatre of war in the 1940s, and another major war was fought in part of it during the third quarter of the twentieth century. Decolonization and nation-building have been accompanied by considerable and prolonged violence, and most of South-East Asia has enjoyed less than half a century of real, modern independence.

According to the 1990 figures, the whole South-East Asian region is home to nearly half a billion people. By the early twenty-first century, it will have significantly more than this number. By that time, there will not be many left who will remember the region as it once was: relatively small areas of intensive cultivation surrounded by forests and the sea, with few cities and fewer manufacturing industries, a poor region contributing mainly industrial cash crops to the rest of the world. The region described in these pages has great diversity, but all is in rapid transition. In the 1990s, its closest economic linkages are with the thriving economies of North-East Asia, and together with them and with China, it constitutes the West Pacific Rim, already a principal arena of world trade which, some say, will be viewed as the real 'new world' of the twenty-first century.

The Book

Making a book out of a set of conference papers is never easy, especially if the quality of the discussion is to be preserved and displayed. Except for the Conclusion and this Preface, all the chapters and discussions in this book were first presented in Yogyakarta. A few of the papers are published here unaltered apart from editing; others have been substantially rewritten by their authors. The discussant comments that follow the chapters are in most cases edited from text material supplied, but a few are published almost without change. Gaps have been filled, and brief summaries of discussion written, from notes kept by rapporteurs at the conference and by Brookfield. The conference order of material has been varied a little for book production, and a different grouping of issues has been adopted to facilitate signposting of the text.

The chapters-each with its commentator's remarks or subsidiary paper, and a report on discussion-are divided into four parts. Each part is prefaced by an editorial introduction, reviewing its content and principal message. Part I brings together five chapters on 'The Driving Forces of Change': development, population, urbanization, the specific questions of energy and mineral use and of deforestation. Part II has three chapters on 'Climatic Change and Variability', which are important issues for the future global climatic change and variability, the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the effect of climatic variability on agriculture. Parts III and IV treat 'Selected Issues' in depth. In Part III, four chapters deal with specific environmental problems arising from the Green Revolution: use of the uplands, the problem of fire, and the condition of the seas and inshore areas. The three chapters in Part IV concern vulnerable places and peoples and issues of the urban environment. Several chapters throughout the book, but especially this last one, deal with policy and institutional questions. Part V consists of a single chapter presenting conclusions and recommendations, and attempts to answer the central issue in the subtitle of the book: the search for sustainability.

Editing has been rigorous. Except where substantive text changes have been proposed, revised texts have not been returned to authors for their approval. To do so, or to submit edited commentary material for amendment, would have led to unacceptable delay in completion of a timely manuscript, thereby risking loss of impact. The Editors had, therefore, to take many final decisions, and they accept responsibility for these decisions. The result was a comparatively expeditious completion of a large and complicated manuscript. The cheerful co-operation of all participants in meeting deadlines-or at least trying hard to meet them under what has, admittedly, been some fairly strong pressure from the Editors-has made this possible.

December 1992



Throughout this book, all references to dollars ($) are to the US dollar, unless otherwise specified; and the word 'billion' refers to the American usage of the word, that is, one thousand million ( 1,000,000,000).


OUR principal thanks are to Gadjah Mada University which hosted the conference, and particularly to the Vice-Rector for Cooperation, Dr Sofian Effendi, and to the Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies, Dr Sugeng Martopo, who, together with their colleagues, handled all local arrangements. Both the Rector of the University, Dr Mochamad Adnan, who opened the conference, and a former Rector, Dr Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri, initiated the co-sponsorship between the United Nations University (UNU) and Gadjah Mada University, and participated in the conference. The University housed most of the participants, and conducted a field excursion to its forestry station at Wanagama in the Gunung Kidul district (southern uplands), south of Yogyakarta, and to historical sites; this excursion was led by Dr Djalal Tandjung of the Centre for Environmental Studies. Members of the senior academic staff of the University acted as chairpersons for most of our sessions. The warm hospitality of Gadjah Mada University was greatly appreciated by us all.

The thanks of the organizer and Editors, as well as of the UNU, also go to the Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University which met all the communication costs associated with the conference and this book, and in particular to the Administrator of the Department of Human Geography, Mrs Elizabeth Lawrence, a South-East Asian by origin, who willingly carried a large additional burden of work. The invaluable participation of the joint Editor, Ms Yvonne Byron, the Research Officer in the same department, was facilitated by support from the UNU, as was also that of Mrs Ria van de Zandt of the Department of Anthropology, who efficiently handled the huge task of word processing the text and its editorial changes. The Research School's Cartography Unit, under the direction of Mr Keith Mitchell, either prepared from sketches or finalized from drawings, all maps and diagrams.

The East-West Center Environment and Policy Institute funded the travel costs of its participants at the conference. The Australian International Development Assistance Bureau paid the travel costs of some of the Australian participants. All other costs were met by the UNU, where Dr Juha Uitto, the Academic Officer responsible for the conference, particularly thanks Ms Hiroko Nakazawa for all secretariat work, and Ms Audrey Yuse, Programme/Administrative Officer, for financial administration. Mr Achmad K. P. Mochtan, Programme Associate, assisted with local contacts in Yogyakarta. The UNU also thanks Professor Walther Manshard of Albert-Ludwigs Universitat, Freiburg, Germany; at short notice, he represented Vice-Rector Dr Roland Fuchs, who was unable to travel to Yogyakarta.

Abbreviations and glossary

ug micrograms
AEGE ASEAN Expert Group on Environment
alang-alang coarse grass (Imperata cylindrica)
ANU Australian National University
ASC ASEAN Standing Commiffee
ASEAN Association of South-East Asian Nations
ASEP ASEAN Environment Programme
ASOEN ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment
BOD Biochemical Oxygen Demand
BP Before Present
BPH brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens Stall)
CALC Certificate of Ancestral Land Claims (Philippines)
CCCO Committee for Climate Changes and the Ocean
CFC chlorofluorocarbon
CFMA Community Forestry Management Agreement (Philippines)
CH4 methane
CO carbon monoxide
CO2 carbon dioxide
COARE Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment
COBSEA Coordinating Body of South East Asian Seas
COST European Cooperation in Scientific and Technical Research
damar resin
dBA adjusted decibels
dbh diameter at breast height
DENR Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Philippines)
DOE Department of Environment (Malaysia)
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
ENSO El Niño-Southern Oscillation
EQA Environmental Quality Act (Malaysia)
ESCAP United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations)
FELDA Federal Land Development Authority (Malaysia)
FLMA Forest Lease Management Agreement (Philippines)
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GCM General Circulation Model
GDP gross domestic product
GEF Global Environment Facility
GESAMP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution
GISS Goddard Institute for Space Studies
GLOSS Global Sea Level Observing System
GNP gross national product
GOI Government of Indonesia
HDGEC Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme
HPHH Hak Pemungutan Hasil Hutan; right to collect forest products
hukum adat customary law
HYV high-yielding variety (of rice)
IAEA Intemational Atomic Energy Agency
IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
IGBP International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
IIASA International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
IMO International Maritime Organization
INRA Institute of Natural Resources in Africa
IOC Intergovernmental Oceanography Commission
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPM Integrated Pest Management
IRRI International Rice Research Institute
ISF Integrated Social Forestry Program (Philippines)
ITCZ Intertropical Convergence Zone
ITTC International Tropical Timber Council
ITTO International Tropical Timber Organization
IUCN International Union on Conservation of Nature
kerangas heath forest
KUD Koperasi Unit Desa; Village Unit Co-operative
LDC less developed country
Ll large-scale industry ( 100 persons or more)
LIPI Lembaga llmu Pengetahuan Indonesia; Indonesian Institute of Science
MAB Man and the Biosphere
MDC mature developed country
Ml medium-scale industry (50-99 persons)
NAPPFP National Air Pollution Potential Forecasting Program
NDP net domestic product
NDP New Development Plan (Malaysia)
NEP New Economic Policy (Malaysia)
NFP National Forestation Program (Philippines)
NGO Non-governmental organization
Nl net income
NIC newly industrializing country
NIE newly industrializing economy
NO nitrogen oxide
NO2 nitrogen dioxide
NOx nitrous oxides
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
PAN peroxyacl nitrates
PFE Permanent Forest Estate (Malaysia)
ppmv parts per million by volume
RePPProT Regional Physical Planning Project for Transmigration
R&D Research and development
RFD Royal Forest Department (Thailand)
ROD Regional Ocean Dynamics
roppong rafts used as floating fishing devices in the Mandar area of South Sulawesi
ROSTSEA Regional Office for Science and Technology in South-East Asia
sawah irrigated land/field normally used for rice
Sl small-scale industry (1049 persons)
SOI Southern Oscillation Index
SO2 sulphur dioxide
SOx sulphuric oxides
SPM suspended particulate matter
SST sea surface temperature
TF-AD Ancestral Land Delineation Task Forces (Philippines)
TOGA Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere
UEWG Urban Ecosystem Working Group
UN United Nations
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNCLOS United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA United Nations Fund for Population Activities
UNU United Nations University
UV-B Ultraviolet-B
WESTPAC Subcommission of the Western Pacific
WHO World Health Organization
WMO World Meteorological Organization
WOCE World Ocean Circulation Experiment
WRI World Resources Institute
WWF Worldwide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund)

Notes on contributors

Dr Bryant J. Allen, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.

Professor Harold Brookfield, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr Te-Tzu Chang, formerly of the International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines.

Dr Allen L. Clark, Resource Systems Institute, East-West Center, Honolulu. Professor Mercedes B. Concepcion, Population Institute, College of Social Science and Philosophy, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

Professor Manuel de Rozari, Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Bogor, Java.

Professor James J. Fox, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr Jefferson Fox, Environment and Policy Institute, East-West Center, Honolulu.

Professor Edgardo D. Gomez, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

Dr Joan Hardjono, Padjadjaran State University, Bandung, Java.

Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, Climatic Impacts Centre, School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Professor Gavin W. Jones, Research School of Social Sciences, the Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr Kuswata Kartawinata, UNESCO/ROSTSEA, Jakarta.

Dr Francis Jana Lian, Department of Geography, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Dr Joseph Morgan, Environment and Policy Institute, East-West Center, Honolulu.

Dr Neville Nicholls, Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melboume.

Dr Lesley Potter, Department of Geography, University of Adelaide, Adelaide. Dr Wan Razali Wan Mohd, Division of Forestry, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Kanok Rerkasem, Multiple Cropping Centre, Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mail

Dr Kamal Salih, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, Kuala Lumpur.

Professor Hood Salleh, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor.

Professor Sham Sani, Department of Geography, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor.

Dr Aprilani Soegiarto, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jakarta.

Professor Otto Soemarwoto, Institute of Ecology, Padjadjaran University, Bandung, Java.

Professor Ishemat Soerianegara, Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Bogor, Java.

Dr Nengah Wirawan, Hasanuddin University, Ujung Pandang, Sulawesi.

Professor Masatoshi Yoshino, Department of Geography, Aichi University, Toyohashi City.


THE papers forming the basis of the five chapters in Part I were all presented on the first day in Yogyakarta. Their purpose was to establish some of the main issues that must underlie planning for a sustainable environmental future in the region. Population and economic growth go hand in hand as forces that make it extremely difficult to manage the regional environment, and to give management high priority, even without any complications arising from global climatic change. All 1991 indications were, as Kamal Salih notes in his comments, that this region may experience some of the highest rates of economic growth in the world during the 1990s. During this decade, parts of South-East Asia may decisively move into a class that might come to be described as the 'newly developed countries', even though substantial pockets of underdevelopment will certainly remain well into the twenty-first century.

A constraint on progress is the continued high rate of population growth; a slowing of these rates has been less than was hoped and expected. It is a major achievement that food production, in the region as a whole, has more than kept pace with population growth, but there is a cost in growing consumption of available water resources, in chemicalization together with all its side-effects, and in heavier use of uplands with all their sensitivity to erosion.

Furthermore, population is being substantially redistributed by urbanization and industrialization, as well as by a large, unquantified volume of temporary and illegal migration between countries. Three of the emerging megacities of the developing world are in this region, as well as a growing number of smaller cities with populations of a million or more. Many smaller towns are also growing fast, and throughout large rural areas, there has been a major increase in the availability of off-farm employment.

While urbanization creates huge environmental problems of its own, it is beginning to take some of the pressure off agricultural land. Unfortunately, a large part of the national revenues which finance industrialization and the provision of infrastructure has been derived from the massive exploitation of natural resources, and this practice continues in the early 1990s. It is most clearly expressed in the 'onslaught on the forests', which has become a major issue internationally as well as regionally. It is also embodied in the rapid growth of mineral exploitation and this, together with burgeoning energy consumption due to development and urbanization, creates a whole new set of environmental consequences. South-East Asia already finds itself, uncomfortably, being said to be a significant emitter of greenhouse gases into the global atmosphere, albeit thus far mainly from deforestation and wet-rice agriculture.

These are the issues raised and reviewed by the authors of these five chapters and by their discussants. Chapter 1, by Brookfield, is written from the keynote paper delivered at the conference. It seeks both to generalize about the wider regional changes, and to analyse the fundamental causes of environmental mismanagement and the basic problems that lie in the way of improvement. Chapter 2, by Concepcion, summarizes the demographic condition of the region and its countries, and discusses some of the harmful environmental consequences of population growth. Jones, in Chapter 3, surveys industrial progress and rapid urbanization. These three chapters are followed by a hard-hitting statement by Kamal Salih, linking economic and environmental policies.

The two remaining chapters in Part I address specific issues of resource use. Clark, in Chapter 4, presents an alarming picture of the future for energy and mineral production in the region; his discussants sought to temper this alarm. Potter, in Chapter 5, reviews change and exploitation in the forests of the region, and discusses the methods of improved management. Comment on both these chapters is revealing of the sensitivities of a region enjoying rapid economic growth and excited at the prospect of more, in the face of what is seen to be biased criticism of its activities from the developed countries. Some discussants, however, share the alarm voiced in the chapters, and seek solutions to the problems.

(introductory text...)

Trends of the mid-1970s to 1980s
Some explanatory variables
Projecting trends into the future
The conditions of resource management in the region
The main environmental issues
The need for a new concept of common resources



THE papers forming the basis of the five chapters in Part I were all presented on the first day in Yogyakarta. Their purpose was to establish some of the main issues that must underlie planning for a sustainable environmental future in the region. Population and economic growth go hand in hand as forces that make it extremely difficult to manage the regional environment, and to give management high priority, even without any complications arising from global climatic change. All 1991 indications were, as Kamal Salih notes in his comments, that this region may experience some of the highest rates of economic growth in the world during the 1990s. During this decade, parts of South-East Asia may decisively move into a class that might come to be described as the 'newly developed countries', even though substantial pockets of underdevelopment will certainly remain well into the twenty-first century.

A constraint on progress is the continued high rate of population growth; a slowing of these rates has been less than was hoped and expected. It is a major achievement that food production, in the region as a whole, has more than kept pace with population growth, but there is a cost in growing consumption of available water resources, in chemicalization together with all its side-effects, and in heavier use of uplands with all their sensitivity to erosion.

Furthermore, population is being substantially redistributed by urbanization and industrialization, as well as by a large, unquantified volume of temporary and illegal migration between countries. Three of the emerging megacities of the developing world are in this region, as well as a growing number of smaller cities with populations of a million or more. Many smaller towns are also growing fast, and throughout large rural areas, there has been a major increase in the availability of off-farm employment.

While urbanization creates huge environmental problems of its own, it is beginning to take some of the pressure off agricultural land. Unfortunately, a large part of the national revenues which finance industrialization and the provision of infrastructure has been derived from the massive exploitation of natural resources, and this practice continues in the early 1990s. It is most clearly expressed in the 'onslaught on the forests', which has become a major issue internationally as well as regionally. It is also embodied in the rapid growth of mineral exploitation and this, together with burgeoning energy consumption due to development and urbanization, creates a whole new set of environmental consequences. South-East Asia already finds itself, uncomfortably, being said to be a significant emitter of greenhouse gases into the global atmosphere, albeit thus far mainly from deforestation and wet-rice agriculture.

These are the issues raised and reviewed by the authors of these five chapters and by their discussants. Chapter 1, by Brookfield, is written from the keynote paper delivered at the conference. It seeks both to generalize about the wider regional changes, and to analyse the fundamental causes of environmental mismanagement and the basic problems that lie in the way of improvement. Chapter 2, by Concepcion, summarizes the demographic condition of the region and its countries, and discusses some of the harmful environmental consequences of population growth. Jones, in Chapter 3, surveys industrial progress and rapid urbanization. These three chapters are followed by a hard-hitting statement by Kamal Salih, linking economic and environmental policies.

The two remaining chapters in Part I address specific issues of resource use. Clark, in Chapter 4, presents an alarming picture of the future for energy and mineral production in the region; his discussants sought to temper this alarm. Potter, in Chapter 5, reviews change and exploitation in the forests of the region, and discusses the methods of improved management. Comment on both these chapters is revealing of the sensitivities of a region enjoying rapid economic growth and excited at the prospect of more, in the face of what is seen to be biased criticism of its activities from the developed countries. Some discussants, however, share the alarm voiced in the chapters, and seek solutions to the problems.

Trends of the mid-1970s to 1980s

The trends reviewed cover the limited span of the last 1(}15 years, and mainly used are some very imperfect international data sources which conceal as much as they reveal. The principal sources used are those collated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, supplemented by a few others (various issues of the FAO Production Yearbook, FAO Trade Yearhook, Far East and Australasia Yearbook and World Development Report). The notorious inadequacy of these sources can be offset to some degree by use of national data, but this is done only here and there. Since the immediately following chapters deal with population, urbanization and industrialization, it is appropriate here to review changes in land use and agricultural production since the late 1970s.

Notwithstanding the rapid growth of cities and industry, and the large but inadequately quantified expansion of off-farm employment in rural areas, agriculture continues to employ the most people in all the larger countries of the region and will continue to do so into the twenty-first century. The agricultural share of gross domestic product (GDP) is, however, declining in all regional countries, but at very different rates (Table 1.1). The decline is particularly rapid in Thailand where mineral and industrial production increased by over 60 per cent between 1985 and 1989. In Malaysia, the industrial sector gained 20 points in its percentage share of GDP between 1960 and 1988, and is now well ahead of agriculture; industrial exports now exceed agricultural exports. However, in spite of a remarkable growth in the electrical and electronics industries such that they have become principal generators of national exports (Bank Negara Malaysia, 1991), a major part of Malaysian manufacturing continues to be agro-based, wood-based or petroleum-based (Osman Rani and Haflah Piei, 1990). This is even more true of Indonesia (Hill, 1990). With the exception of Singapore, the economic health of the South-East Asian countries continues even in the early 1990s to depend primarily on production from their own resource.s-minerals, timber and agriculture; despite the industrial deepening now taking place, resource use remains basic.

TABLE 1.1 Share of Agriculture in GDP in Selected Countries in South-East Asia, 1978-1988 (per cent)

Year Malaysia Philippines Thailand Indonesia Myanmar Laosa PNGa
1978 25.0 26.5 27.5 29.9 46.1 40.0 n.a.
1979 24.5 25.3 25.8 28.9 46.0b 60.0 n.a.
1980 24.0 23.2 25.4 25.7 45.6 n.a. n.a.
1981 23.2 22.7 23.9 25.3 46.5 60.0 n.a.
1982 23.6 22.5 22.3 26.3 47.5 n.a. n.a.
1983 21.1 22.9 22.1 24.0 47.7 81.4 n.a.
1984 20.1 25.8 19.5 23.4 47.8 n.a. n.a.
1985 20.8 24.8 16.7 23.6 48.6 81.0 n.a.
1986 21.4 26.8 16.5 25.8 48.2 n.a. 34.0
1987 21.9 24.1 16.1 25.5 50.0 62.0 33.0
1988 21.1 23.0 16.9 24.0 46.2 62.5 34.6

Sources: Far East and Australasia "Annual).
a Figures from Far Eastern Economic Review Year hook (various years).
b Estimate.
n.a. = Not available.

Aggregated over the whole region, the changes in land use over this short period have not therefore been of a dramatic order (Figure 1.2), but none the less the proportion of the total regional land area stated to be under forest and woodland shrank from 61 per cent in 1973 to 55 per cent in 1988, with a trend suggesting that it may fall below 50 per cent by, or soon after, the year 2000. The fact of change is certainly much greater than this, for official data often maintain the area of forest without adjustment for several years, until new survey data become available. At regional level, there is little in the way of reliable data on the areas of forest that have been logged, though there are good surveys in Peninsular Malaysia, and inventory data will soon come to hand from much of Indonesia and some other areas. Much of the forest cover given as such in the national data has, from the air at low altitudes, the appearance of the back of a mangy dog. Even data based on satellite imagery do not distinguish at all well between undisturbed primary forest, logged or 'managed' forest and secondary forest areas, some of which have multiuse functions, and one study has bluntly suggested that such data are full of 'ambiguities and impossibilities' (Blasco and Achard, 1990). Moreover, the infrequency of cloud-free passes over the low-latitude Asian Tropics means that years of imagery may be required to produce one static map of a given large area such as Sumatra, Papua New Guinea or Borneo. Until, or unless, these problems can be resolved and the results compared through time, for purposes of regional generalization one has either to rely (with reservations) on data such as these or else use estimates of deforestation rates that on a global scale range from 70 000 to 200 000 square kilometres per year (FAO/UNEP, 1981; Myers, 1986; Train, 1988;Tyler, 1990). It is more than probable that much less than 33 per cent of the regional forest area-that is less than 15 or 16 per cent of the whole regional land area-still remains largely free from substantial ongoing human interference; ongoing because the amount of truly undisturbed primary forest is probably considerably smaller than is often stated in the modern literature.

Unlike what has happened in the American Tropics, however, there is no expansion in the very small area of permanent pasture, consistent at 3.3 per cent of the whole. Land under crop, both annual and permanent, has expanded quite slowly from 14 to 16 per cent, though the official data seem to lag behind observable reality. More of the statistically recognized expansion has been in a rag-bag category termed 'other land use' now occupying 26 per cent. Of this category, a high proportion must certainly be in land taken up for human settlement, but some degraded land and national parks must also be included. Moreover, it is clear that land is classified differently in some countries. Over 90 per cent of urbanized Singapore is in this category, and this is credible. Less explicably, however, 50 per cent of Vietnam and Brunei, and about 33 per cent of Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar are under 'other land use'.

FIGURE 1.2 Regional Land Use as Percentage of Total Land Area, 1973- 1988

Within the region, there is sharp differentiation in trends, and even within a country. The slow change in the total forest area is seen to be dominated by the reported constancy of forest cover in Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Cambodia. In Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos, more than 50 per cent of the land was recorded as under forest in 1988. Even on the basis of the FAO data, there have been steep reductions over the 15-year period in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, while other studies record much greater losses. Thus, in the Philippines, about 70 per cent of the country was forested at the end of the Spanish period and 57 per cent in 1934, but by 1969 the forest area had fallen to only about 35 per cent and by 1988 to 21.5 per cent (Bautista, 1990). Timber production, which peaked between 1967 and 1975, is now only 33 per cent of the former level (Boado, 1988). Moreover, only 15 per cent of the remaining forested area was of the valuable 'old-growth dipterocarp', once the dominant type but which in 1988 occupied only about 20 per cent of its 1969 area (Bautista, 1990). In Vietnam, a reduction of from 48 to 24 per cent of the country under forest was recorded between 1943 and 1983 (Le Trong Cuc, 1989). The recent decline in Thailand has been even more dramatic, the forested area falling from 53 per cent of the country in 1961 to only 29 per cent in 1985 (Arbhabhirama et al., 1988). All these sources suggest more rapid loss than does Figure 1.3.

A comparison of the forest cover of Peninsular Malaysia between 1972 and 1981 (Figures 1.4a, 1.4b) shows clearly the scale of transformation that has taken place. The peninsula's forests have been greatly reduced by large-scale land-settlement schemes in this period, as well as by selective logging, which has extended over huge additional areas in that one decade, making deep inroads into the largest remaining block of primary forest in the peninsula. Further encroachment took place between 1981 and 1991, especially in the north and east, but may now have reached its limits, as land development by the principal government agency was halted in that year, costs having exceeded the returns from new settlements achieved (Government of Malaysia, 1991 a). Data of comparable quality are also available for a few other areas of South-East Asia, including a part of eastern Borneo, where perhaps the best use of remote-sensing data so far achieved in the region has been undertaken (Malingreau, Tucker and Laporte, 1989). For most areas, however, only much more generalized maps are available.

It has already been noted that the international data are variable in their information on the fate of wholly deforested land. However, some comparative trends of significance are revealed in broad terms. Arable land has increased sharply only in Thailand, where it has risen from 31 to 39 per cent of the whole (Figure 1.5). The small area under permanent crops in Vietnam has almost doubled, but the arable area has declined since 1978. The small increase in Malaysia is not easily explicable, since in Peninsular Malaysia most modern clearance has been for agriculture, so that by the official landuse surveys the agricultural area of the peninsula increased from 21 to 35 per cent of the whole between 1966 and 1982, an increase of 68 per cent in 16 years (Brookfield, 1993; Brookfield and Byron, 1990). The definition of arable land should include temporary fallow, hence giving great scope for variable interpretation between countries and through time; this problem has to be borne in mind in all measures based on the stated arable area. The problem is particularly acute in data for Papua New Guinea, which is shown as having only 0.07 per cent of its area in arable land. Yet survey data derived from air photography in the 1970s show 0.5 per cent in current arable, and if all fallow land-use types are added, together with permanent crops, the proportion rises to 6.6 per cent. An alternative basis of estimating mean per capita use of land plus fallow on a mean 10-year cycle, and adding permanent crops, would yield a figure of 5.6 per cent (R. L. Hide, personal communication).

FIGURE 1.3 Areas under Forest and Woodland as Percentage of Total Land Area by Country. 1973-1988

FIGURE 1.4a Forest Cover of Malaysia, Generalized from Forest Inventory Data , 1972

FIGURE 1.4b Forest Cover of Malaysia, Generalized from Forest Inventory Data. 1981

FIGURE 1.5 Arable Land and Permanent Crops as Percentage of Total Land Area by Country, 1973-1988

Despite these data problems, it is probably correct that the actual expansion of arable land in most parts of the region has been relatively small in the last 15 years. This has significance in relation to the rapid population growth discussed in Chapter 2. During this same period, the food needs of growing numbers of people have been met, and without reliance on large volumes of imported food. In important lowland areas, great improvements in yield have been achieved, and there has been significant intensification of cropping. However, this is not true everywhere, and it is not true in most of the many upland parts of South-East Asia. A shortening of fallow periods has been noted in several of these upland areas, with potentially serious consequences for sustainability of production and environment.

Major improvements in yields of cereal crops-overwhelmingly rice- have been created by the Green Revolution, so that growth of production has ceased to depend mainly on increases in agricultural area. Multiple cropping has also expanded and, because of it, the harvested area has enlarged more rapidly than the arable area. The area harvested for cereals (Figure 1.6) exhibits a marked upward trend over the 12 years 1978-89, with an increase of 13 per cent; production has meanwhile increased by 53 per cent. However, technology has not rendered output immune to the vagaries in rainfall. The dry-season harvested rice area in Central Thailand fell by almost 50 per cent from the wet year 1979 to the drought year 1980. Aggregated over the region, the trend in area harvested exhibits principal breaks in its upward trend in 1982 and 1987. These were years of drought related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in large and important parts of the South-East Asian region, and the data show the significance of these episodic events, discussed by Nicholls in Chapter 7.

There are some sharp contrasts between national trends, which were in some cases influenced by political events. Thus, in Cambodia both area harvested and production fell by about 40 per cent between 1978 and 1979, and in Myanmar production as well as area harvested have stagnated through most of the 1980s. Philippine production increased sharply between 1983 and 1986, but the progress has not been sustained.

Over the region as a whole, the area harvested for rice increased by 14 per cent between 1978 and 1989 with breaks in growth only in 1982 and 1987; production increased by 52 per cent, with a break in growth only in 1987. Thailand and Indonesia together accounted for 69 per cent of regional production in 1989. Whereas Thai area and production expanded respectively by 24 and 22 per cent over the 12 years, or by 35 per cent from 1979, Indonesian area was up by only 15 per cent, but production by 69 per cent (Figure 1.7). In the early 1970s, farmers in Central Thailand required five times the land needed in an intensively farmed pan of Central Java to obtain an equal crop (Barker and Anden, 1975). By 1989, the mean yield for all Indonesia was more than twice that of Thailand. During this period, Indonesia changed from being the world's largest importer of rice to being self-sufficient. In Thailand, there was much less adoption of new varieties and associated methods, in part because of inadequate control over irrigation and rain-water in both wet and dry seasons, and in part because of less intensive farming practices on larger holdings. These problems were recognized early, but have persisted (Arbhabhirama et al., 1988; Sris-wasdilek, Adulavidhaya and Isvilanonda, 1975). In terms of future management, they have important implications.

There was also a spectacular increase in rice productivity in Vietnam, though from a lower base in terms of yield; a production rise of 80 per cent was achieved against an area increase of only 7 per cent. The Philippines achieved 31 per cent growth in rice production with only 13 per cent increase in the area harvested. Malaysia, by contrast, expanded production by only 13 per cent, while the area harvested rose by 9 per cent; the best year was 1985, since when both area and production have declined. The ricefarming sector in Malaysia has consistently remained an area of relative poverty in a rapidly industrializing country, and over 900 square kilometres of irrigated land have gone out of production, partly due to hydrological problems, and partly because labour has been transferred to other parts of the economy (New Straits Times, 4 January 1991).

FIGURE 1.6 Area Harvested and Production of Cereals in the Region, 1978-1989

FIGURE 1.7 Area Harvested and Production of Rice in Thailand and Indonesia, 1978-1989 (semi-logarithmic scale)

TABLE 1.2 FAO Index of Per Capita Agricultural Production by Country a in South-East Asia. 1979-1990 ( 1979-81 = 100)

Year Malaysia Philippines Thailand Indonesia Vietnam PNG Cambodia Laos Myanmar
1979 97.99 98.22 97.38 94.57 96.00 99.32 82.78 89.62 95.76
1980 100.91 100.37 100.23 100.86 101.82 100.93 113.25 101.38 98.86
1981 101.10 101.41 102.39 104.57 102.19 99.76 103.97 109.00 105.38
1982 105.26 99.14 102.16 100.92 106.69 98.14 116.65 107.14 112.88
1983 99.29 93.88 103.85 107.97 106.91 99.39 135.17 108.79 114.68
1984 109.15 89.89 105.08 113.39 110.29 99.21 145.81 117.96 119.23
1985 116.83 87.62 111.33 114.29 108.48 101.24 155.56 122.69 124.87
1986 117.78 88.26 101.56 121.26 113.69 97.08 153.40 121.44 122.78
1987 117.83 85.65 99.92 119.61 116.04 97.83 149.22 114.62 120.83
1988 123.69 85.38 107.03 122.42 116.40 97.44 166.85 109.60 111.09
1989 129.57 87.16 110.74 126.33 123.18 102.39 167.65 124.78 98.65
1990 132.66 87.05 102.85 127.23 127.10 99.24 164.48 129.61 102.91

The contrasts in agricultural change may be summarized by using the FAO index of all per capita agricultural productivity over 1978-89 (Table 1.2). The most remarkable growth is in Cambodia from its very low base, but this does not yet reflect high productivity. Among the larger countries, Indonesia and Vietnam exhibit parallel growth, and draw well ahead of Thailand; since 1984, Thailand has had a significantly lower share of GDP in agriculture than the other large regional countries. The per capita agricultural productivity of Papua New Guinea has stagnated while its mineral production has increased so as to completely dominate the national economy. The total productivity of Philippine agriculture has been almost stagnant or in decline since 1981 and that of Myanmar has dropped sharply since the mid-1980s. Especially in the latter half of the 1980s, however, the leader in real growth is Malaysia with its high dependence on export tree crops.

Exports of agricultural, forestry and fishing products distinguish the export-based rural economies of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia from the other regional countries. Deleting the re-exports of Singapore from the regional total, these three countries produced 79 per cent of all greater South-East Asia's non-mineral primary exports in 1978 and 87 per cent in 1990. Among other countries, only Vietnam shows a significant increase; the value of exports from the Philippines declined from 1980 to 1986, and there has since been only a small recovery. Myanmar and Papua New Guinea have also lately exported at below peak levels attained some years ago.

Some explanatory variables

To conclude the agricultural comparison, three important explanatory variables are presented. First, the amount of farmland per agricultural worker is greatly affected by the relationship which labour-intensive arable land bears to the more extensively worked permanent tree crops, but it is none the less a useful surrogate measure of agricultural intensity. Table 1.3 presents data for countries with a large agricultural sector, in which Malaysia stands out very clearly as having more than twice the regional mean area per worker and six times that of Vietnam. In Peninsular Malaysia, the agricultural work-force has remained static since the 1960s during which the agriculturally productive area has almost doubled, significantly reducing production intensity, and leading also to heavy dependence on illegal immigrants; inclusion of the latter, were data available, would reduce the high Malaysian value. In several countries, there has been a decline in the amount of land per worker since 1978 or 1983: the decline is seemingly indicative of greater intensification of production. It is tempting to read into this trend a clear and unambiguous index of growing pressure of the rural population on land resources, but to do so may be too simplistic. The change is less in Indonesia-where data are dominated by crowded Java-than in other countries, and the decline in area per worker has in fact been steepest of all in urbanized Singapore where it fell to 0.14 hectare per worker in 1988. This brings to mind the fact that new opportunities for intensive production created by the growing urban markets, and increasing division of labour, are also of significance.

TABLE 1.3 Farmland (Arable Plus Permanent Crops) per Agricultural Worker in South-East Asia, 1978, 1983 and 1988 (hectares)

Country 1978 1983 1988
Malaysia 2.19 2.10 2.17
Myanmar 1.38 1.37 1.20
Cambodia 1.22 1.61 1.16
Thailand 1.15 1.18 1.80
Philippines 0.96 0.83 0.77
Laos 0.68 0.63 0.67
Indonesia 0.65 0.62 0.62
Vietnam 0.40 0 37 0 35
PNG 0.31 0.31 0.32

Source: World Development Report (various years).

Secondly, there have been important increases in the irrigated proportion of arable and permanent cropland in all the major countries except Malaysia, but the highest proportions and principal increases are in Indonesia and Vietnam (Figure 1.8). In Indonesia, over 33 per cent of all agricultural land was irrigated by 1988, up from 25 per cent in 1973: and in Vietnam, 32 per cent was irrigated by 1988. In the Philippines and Thailand, the 1988 figures were 22 and 24 per cent respectively. The most rapid increase has in tact been in Laos: from 4 to 15 per cent between 1973 and 1988.

Irrigation is a major factor in increasing agricultural productivity, facilitating multiple cropping and the use of high-yielding varieties, and reducing loss from drought; there is little doubt that it will be pressed further to its economic limits. However, there is a downside: according to estimates made since the late 1980s, South-East Asia is now a major source of methane emissions into the atmosphere. Even though some of the best research done on carbon-dioxide (CO,) emission from land-use change-especially forest degradation-uses South-East Asian data, it would be surprising if the World Resources Institute (WRI, 1990) is right in its calculation that its deforestation and timbercutting rates put Indonesia alone into the same rank of CO, emitters as Japan. The data are simply not up to establishing such a devastating conclusion, especially while there remain great variations in estimates of the total contribution of tropical deforestation and forest degradation (Brown, Gillespie and Lugo, 1991; Houghton, 1991). However, the importance of multiple-crop, irrigated production of rice in South-East Asia makes it very likely that the regional atmospheric input of methane from the region as a whole is globally significant (Aselmann and Crutzen, 1989; Bouwman, 1990; Cicerone, 1989; Takai and Wada, 1990). Present bases of estimation rest mainly on extrapolation from a few mid-latitude sites, and can rightly be questioned, as they are indeed being questioned (for example, by Agarwal and Narain, 1991). None the less, the repeated inundation and cultivation of the low-latitude rice fields (sawah) suggest that South-East Asia may well turn out to be a disproportionately significant source of methane emission.

FIGURE 1.8 Area under Irrigation as Percentage of Arable and Permanent Cropland by Country, 1973-1988

The expansion of the irrigated area, however, may be approaching its limits, and there are growing problems due to the siltation of dams, and losses of irrigated land caused by silting of valleys and changing hydrological regimes below deforested areas. Moreover, the rising water demand of cities and industry is increasingly in competition with agricultural needs. The holding back of water to provide urban supplies is already leading to inadequate dry-season flow into the sea, resulting in some problems of salt-water intrusion. During ENSO years, especially 1991-2, water shortages have become a serious problem.

Finally, in a comparison made dubious by its reliance on the uncertain definition of 'arable land' (discussed above in relation to Figure 1.5), fertilizer consumption on cropland is both an explanatory variable and a cast forward into some discussions in later chapters. Surprisingly highest in Vietnam among the mainly agricultural countries at the end of the 1960s, fertilizer use has since been much heavier on arable land in Malaysia than in the other countries even more than in Indonesia with its major drive to increase fertilizer use since the late 1970s (Figure 1.9). It has remained extremely low in Thailand and has not increased in any consistent way in Vietnam. The figure for Papua New Guinea should be rejected, as it seems to depend on a more restricted definition of 'arable' in this country than in others; Papua New Guinea's fertilizer use on its arable land is probably more comparable with those of Laos and Cambodia, than that of Thailand. The general regional increase over the 19-year period is, nevertheless, a very notable feature of this graph. Together with the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides, this chemicalization indicates both a major change in farming practice and cause for serious concern because of the environmental consequences. Irrigation and chemicalization are measures of input intensification and, to some extent, of farm incomes; they help explain great differences in agricultural productivity. Thus, by far the highest level of fertilizer application within the region is on the tiny farmland area of mainly urban Singapore (not shown in Figure 1.9), where it is more than eight times that of Malaysia and so much higher than in other countries that the disparity can only be shown on a logarithmic graph.

This fact highlights the great differences in productivity within countries: for example, between the high-input, high-output systems of the core ricebowl areas of Java and all the rest of Indonesia; between central and eastern Indonesia almost as two separate wholes; between Kedah and the Cameron Highlands on the one hand and most of the rest of Malaysian arable land on the other; and between central Luzon and-at least until lately-the Mountain province, and most of the rest of the Philippines. So long as it is sustained, intensification of rural production can create agricultural systems that, in extreme cases such as those of Singapore and the market gardens on reclaimed tin-dredging sites around Kuala Lumpur, depend scarcely at all on the natural-resource base; elsewhere, the natural conditions of production can be greatly enhanced by artifice. Though initial siting of intensive production systems may, in most cases, be highly selective of suitable natural conditions, their further development and expansion depends on the social and economic conditions of production much more than on the quality of the site. It is important that this factor be noted carefully in projecting trends from present and recent patterns.

FIGURE 1.9 Fertilizer Consumption on Arable Land by Country, 1969-1988

Projecting trends into the future

What can be predicted about the future? The expansion of agricultural land use will certainly continue, but its limits are fast approaching. Moving into more remote and steeper areas, land clearance for settlement has already surpassed economic limits in Peninsular Malaysia, and is therefore close to being terminated. The yield in some transmigration areas in Indonesia is extremely poor, and their future is uncertain. The intensification of production can certainly be further enhanced in the region as a whole, but it is likely that increasing pressures will be placed on uplands where intensification, rather than further extension of the arable area, will soon be the only way forward. The reduction of fallow periods will, in the absence of other changes, soon lead to degradation in those areas still practicing landrotational systems of agriculture. With rapid growth of the urban population. and the emergence within the region of three of the world's megacities, the resource demands of industry and the towns will become increasingly pressing. In general, the South-East Asian region has since 1980 entered a period in which availability of natural resources will become more constrained. The view, current until the late 1980s, of South-East Asia as being abundant in resources is in the process of being discarded. During the 15 years up to 2005, a great deal will necessarily change, not least in the form and direction of the path of development itself. To this, the discussion now turns.

The conditions of resource management in the region

From colonial times and through the early years of independence, the development strategies of all but the city-states rested ultimately on resource-based production for export, and for the provision of homeproduced foodstuffs and raw materials. Under the colonial administrations of the Netherlands, Britain, France, Portugal. Australia and Japan, and not much less so that of the United States, these countries-and Thailand as well-were classic economies of exploitation. As Furnivall (1939: 452) wrote, translating a 1935 paper by Boeke with biting emphasis:

[T]here is materialism. rationalism, individualism, a concentration on economic ends far more complete and absolute than in homogenous Western lands; a total absorption in the Exchange and Market; a capitalist structure, with the business concern as subject, far more typical of Capitalism than one can imagine in the so-called capitalist' countries.

This he applied not only to European society in the region but also to that of the immigrant Chinese; as far as possible, the 'native' economy was not only permitted but actively forced, through systems of indirect rule, to remain on one side. As Emerson (1937: 467) noted for British Malaya, colonial reporting was based on 'a tacit assumption that growing revenues and exports are certain indices of the well-being of colonial society and of the well-doing of colonial government, complacently ignoring such matters as standards of living and the crushing out of the right of men to rise to place and power in their own society'.

Yet these colonial economies and societies were supplied with a substantial, if biased, infrastructure, and the successor states that emerged after the wars and rebellions of 1941-54 all quickly experienced balance of payments problems that were aggravated by their strong new policies of social development. Given concentration of financial power in the hands of mainly foreign-owned companies, it was necessary for the new states to intervene actively in economic activities in order to secure an independent economic base. This was achieved differently in different countries, but within each state the main direction of economic policy had-of necessity at least in the short term-to build on the colonial legacy. Notwithstanding economic diversification and the growth of industrial sectors not dependent on local raw materials, these states have been and, even in the 1990s, still are heavily dependent on world market prices for their economic growth and social well-being.

The essentially short-temm use of mineral and, especially, forest resources at unsustainable rates is a dimension or intensification of this dependence on world prices, not an escape from it. In the mid- 1980s, most of these countries were thrown into recession by simultaneous collapse of world prices of most of their export products. Major changes in policy resulted, reducing direct government intervention and relaxing the conditions of foreign investment. At the beginning of the 1990s, the South-East Asian economies, along with those of East Asia, have remained extremely buoyant in the face of a deepening recession in Europe, North America and some other regions. If the world economic downturn persists, however, this buoyancy will be eroded by diminished demand for the new manufactured exports, as well as the traditional raw-material exports, on which the region depends. Industrialization is insufficiently deep, and too vulnerable to protectionism from developed countries to offer a secure escape from rawmaterial dependency, some euphoria generated by the resumption of high rates of economic growth at the end of the 1980s notwithstanding.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, there were many ambitious public projects designed to reduce import dependence and create a substantial industrial sector that enjoyed generous state support, both direct and indirect. This state support, however, depended heavily on revenues derived from the expansion of primary production, and it has been sharply reduced since the recession of the mid-1980s. There was certainly substantial growth of indigenous capitalism but, except in the services sector, it lacked its own dynamism; whether or not one agrees with Yoshihara's (1988) severe characterization of South-East Asia's industrial progress as 'ersatz' capitalism, it retained heavy dependence either on the primary base or on foreign capital and technology or both. Since the mid-1980s, the primary base has continued to experience difficulties due to weak demand and persistent oversupply, as technology in the consuming countries has changed (Kamal Salih, 1989). One entire national industry-Malaysian tin-has almost collapsed. New efforts have been made to attract both direct and jointventure foreign investment, to encourage indigenous entrepreneurship and to reduce dependence of industry on the state, all with varying degrees of success. Some of the successes, for example in Malaysian electronics and Indonesian plywood, have been spectacular in terms of employment creation, though the first generates only a limited range of linkages, and the second depends on a diminishing resource. Much new investment has been made in services, and a number of the industries captured by South-East Asian countries are seen as 'sunset industries' in developed countries, their comparative advantage in this region depending on low wages. Hopes of substantial transfer of modem high technology continue to be disappointed.

Social progress has been great and, if uneven, remarkably widespread in the countries of most rapid growth. Large parts of the South-East Asian region are now far removed from the condition of either most of Africa or South Asia. However, so long as raw-material exports remain of central importance, the true economic peers of most of South-East Asia are still in Australasia, Latin America, southern Africa and just perhaps in the former Soviet Union, not in the giant power-house economies of North America, Western Europe and North-East Asia. This is not to underrate the major economic changes that have been or are now being achieved, or to say that the drive for further development is likely to fail.

Singapore is, as in so many other ways, an exception. The city-state already enjoys Western standards of services and consumption, and it alone in the region has been able to afford the cost of substantial environmental improvement since the mid-1970s. Around it has emerged a growth area extending into southern Malaysia and the Riau islands of Indonesia: a smaller version of the extension of Hong Kong's growth into the Shenzen-Guandong industrial complex in southern China. Malaysia's new long-term plan is to achieve developed-country standards by 2020 (Government of Malaysia, 1991b)-a goal termed 'Vision 2020'. There is no want of confidence and, in this respect, South-East Asia shares with the whole West Pacific Rim an ethos of growth and progress that contrasts sharply with the creeping doubts that have infected many Western lands.

In retrospect, the boom period of the 1970s and early 1980s failed to lead to the rapid industrial transformation to economic independence that was then anticipated and, while the mistakes of that period are now being avoided, it is not yet certain that the resumed boom can persist at its 1990 I speed. New, harsher external conditions present serious problems for the 1990s. Notwithstanding enormous progress and continued rapid economic growth, the full transformation of South-East Asia's ax-colonial economies into modem, post-industrial societies is not yet assured. Given the hopes and expectations of a decade ago and their disappointment in the 1980s, and the many uncertainties created by new political developments in Europe, the former

Soviet Union and East Asia, it would be folly to try to predict the economic conditions of the first decade of the next millennium. Moreover, it would be optimistic to expect a prolonged return to the highly favourable terms of the 1970s, and it would also be optimistic to believe that the continued high rates of population growth will fail to have a depressing effect on social development.

Though the shares of agriculture and mining in GDP continue to decline, rapid growth in the share of manufacturing is not sufficient to banish the spectres of unemployment. and of urban as well as rural poverty. There remain some horrible examples of poverty in the region. A large measure of dependence on unstable or weakly priced resource exports, and on resourcebased manufactures, is likely to continue. Singapore only excepted, industrialization and urbanization, with a growing emphasis on services, seem unlikely to quickly create a set of high-technology societies; moreover, even Singapore has become primarily a service economy.

There are some serious environmental Implications in these trends. Some rural exports and many of the new industries are heavily waste productive. Each set-back in commodity prices and each new industrial development depending on low production costs for success reduce both the means and the will to manage the environment more effectively. The boom has created a great and growing number of wasteful and environmentally damaging activities, and it does not seem likely that this situation will soon improve. One can hope, and does, that South-East Asia will rapidly be transformed into a wealthy region able and willing to support greatly improved environmental management for its own sake, but perhaps the more realistic hope of improved management lies in the need to economize on the use of increasingly scarce resources. This need, at least, is now increasingly perceived in the 1990s in decision-making circles in the region.

The main environmental issues

It may be appropriate to paraphrase George Orwell and remark that while in an ideal world all environmental questions should be equal, some are in fact more equal than others. Moreover, it is only fair to note that the issues are very unequal in the perception of a global environmentalist movement that is taking an increasing and uncomfortable interest in the South-East Asian region. It may be unreasonable to expect environmental fundamentalists who are now so vocal about trees in this region to pay close attention to real social and economic problems; some among them. and some sections of the Western media, seemed in early 1991 to be more concerned over sea birds in the Persian Gulf than with the cruel fate of unfortunate people, on nearby dry land, who were blasted by all the weaponry that modern skills had devised. While this 'unequal concern' is far from true of all environmentalists, there is an expressed need among many to find issues that will claim the attention of their middle-class backers in Western countries; trees are now high on this list.

This criticism is not to deny that trees, and what is happening to them, are in truth the single most pressing environmental issue in this region, but to point out that several other issues come very close in importance. Moreover. the fate of trees is but one subset of a larger group of issues, the core of which is the growth of population and its demands, and the style of development. While it is impossible to create without physical change, creation that is to be sustainable through a foreseeable future must improve materially on what it destroys. This has been argued elsewhere in a more general context (Brookfield, 1991). This approach is precisely not the modern pattern of development in South-East Asia, though it has been done in the past over large areas in this region in which productive, materially more secure and aesthetically more pleasing-because they are more varied- landscapes have been created by human artifice. The conference on which this book is based took place in the midst of one such panorama, that is around Yogyakarta.

Some writers have lately remarked on the recency with which the relationship of environmental issues to development has come to the Sore in the international literature on the region (for example, Falkus. 1990; McDowell, 1989). A decade has elapsed since Aiken et al. (1982) sought to bring these issues together for Peninsular Malaysia, and the regional literature of significance goes back to the 1960s. Before deforestation became the major issue, land and water degradation and specifically soil erosion were already matters of serious concern, both in rural and urban areas. The work which led Douglas (1993) to write his seminal book on the global urban environment had its origins in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the 1960s, and the very high suspended sediment yield figures for the rivers of Java, often cited in the literature, were mostly obtained in the 1960s and 1970s (Donner. 1987: Douglas and Spencer, 1985). Already in the 1950s, most of the uplands of Central Java were mapped as 'severely eroded' (Dames, 1955), and these uplands and their management remain an area of considerable concern and some controversy (Nibbering, 1991 a; Palte, 1989).

Accelerated soil erosion is, in fact, a good issue on which to focus attention, for it predates the modern development drive, and its causes are multiple. Population growth and shortage of land in the lowlands had already led to expansion of cultivation on to steep and dry slopes centuries ago, and now occur over wider and wider areas. Commercial cultivation of pepper and tapioca led to severe erosion in the nineteenth century and before, and major extensions of erosion followed tobacco planting in Sumatra in the nineteenth century, and then rubber planting in Malaysia in the twentieth century. Accelerated soil erosion is the product both of poverty and of affluence, each leading to mismanagement of the land, as has been argued elsewhere (Blaikie and Brookfield, 1987). It results from mining, timber extraction, deforestation. Iand settlement, road building, urbanization, shifting cultivation and the expansion of both peasants and planters on to hills. It cannot be prevented, but it can be reduced and controlled at a cost whether in labour or in cash, and in both cases by inputs into management rather than just production.

Moreover, it is a main cause of siltation and water pollution in rivers and coastal areas, augmented by the wastes of people, production and industry, and by the chemicals that are today so freely supplied to the land.

Three remarks may be made about accelerated soil erosion that apply, mutatis mutandis, to almost all other forms of environmental interference. First, the removal of protective cover from sloping land for any purpose inevitably exposes the land to accelerated erosion. Secondly, technical means exist to bring erosion under a large measure of control, but only in the special case of sawah formation is the use of these means integral to the production system; in all other cases, management is an added cost and sometimes a large one. Thirdly, the adoption or non-adoption of control programmes is a social decision, in some measure the responsibility of the actual farmer, developer or resource manager, and in some measure the responsibility of the state and of society as a whole. This multi-level accountability arises from the domain of the physical and social consequences. The farmer may act to protect his own livelihood and that of his inheritors. Local society may require action to protect others from downstream damage. The state may intervene to protect what is perceived as a set of national resources and to enhance the welfare of its citizens. But where the farmer or society or the state is concerned only with current production, treating damage as an externality to be absorbed by the unfortunate-present or future-the costs of management are unlikely to be shouldered.

Bound up with these questions are the concepts of tenure of resources and of optimal rates of depletion. The individual farmer, entrepreneur or state agency that regards a resource as entirely his/theirs to exploit at will is unlikely to be responsive to problems created for others, though sustainability of production on site may be a consideration. To the temporary holder of a resource under, say, a 10- to 20-year logging or mineral concession, the only optimal rate of depletion is the maximum achievable with the available means, and the consequences for all others and for the future are inevitably of small account. This is more so in the case of unlicensed loggers or miners, of whom there are many, especially but by no means only in Indonesia and Thailand. On the other hand, there are forest farmers, such as some in West Kalimantan who have, over generations, selectively converted most of their forest to rubber and fruit-bearing trees. They expect to hold this improved environment in perpetuity, plant even slowgrowing ironwood for the use of future generations, terrace some of their pepper gardens, and take care that swiddening is both selective of the forest resource and of sufficiently small scale not to cause siltation damage in their sawah.

Similar problems concerning externalities-individual/corporate and social benefit can be identified in such areas as the pollution of Malaysian rivers with rubber and palm-oil wastes in quantities that equal the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the sewage from the whole national population (Sham, 1987: 51-2). The larger case of the immense damage done by tin dredging in the past and in the disposal of both industrial and domestic effluent into the canals of Bangkok that are also used as industrial and domestic water sources are two other situations where externalities are little considered. Problems, both of tenure and of optimal depletion rates, arise in the conflict of interest between modern commercial and traditional fisheries all around the coasts of South-East Asia, and now extend as far as the coast of northern Australia. All these and other problems stem in common from a major increase in scale of activity and a growing pressure on common resources. However, the place in which all issues come together is in the forests, where economic growth based on the exploitation of natural resources has created a 'frontier economy' quite unlike anything that the region has ever witnessed.

In one way or another, the question of forest exploitation arises in several of the following chapters. Here, it is used only to draw out some general principles. The issue of optimal depletion rates is beset not only by ignorance about real replacement rates, as has often been noted, but also by questions of long-term benefit. In specific analyses of Indonesia and Malaysia, and also more generally over the region's forests, Gillis (1988a, 1988b, 1988c) argues that except where forests have been converted into sustainable agricultural systems, very little net gain has been achieved through two decades of extensive exploitation in which only a small part of the economic rent has been captured from the haste to get rich. Repetto (1990) reinforces this view over tropical forest exploitation as a whole. An end to this type of economy, already in sight in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia (except Sarawak), will inevitably come to the whole region by or before 2005, due to exhaustion of most economically available resources, leaving a massive legacy of social and environmental costs and, moreover, a network of roads along which cultivators can come to complete the devastation. Byron and Waugh (1988) are less pessimistic, seeing gains in the replacement of forest with agriculture, not sharing the alarm of Malaysian forest specialists over the rate at which this conversion took place, and seeing hope for improvement in forest-management practices as costs rise in the face of a Ricardian reduction rather than Malthusian exhaustion of supplies. Perhaps they have reckoned without the enormous capacity for self-delusion among exploiters, bureaucrats and politicians, who have continued to speak of an industry continuing into perpetuity even while production is already in decline and warnings of forthcoming crippling shortage become increasingly well-founded.

However, Byron and Waugh also draw attention to the resource-tenure problem which has wider significance. Forests that used to belong to the shifting cultivators are claimed as public land by the state and allocated to concessionaires; the ethnic majority rather than the ethnic minority claims the resource but then allocates rights to a new set of individuals on temporary title. The effect of dispute, uncertainty and non-enforcement of the rules and controls of tenure is that the resource takes on some of the attributes of common property, and in these circumstances also of its 'tragedy' in Hardin's (1968) sense; that is, it becomes akin to a common in the theoretical, open-access meaning of the term, not in the sense of a socially managed institution (McCay and Acheson, 1987: 8). Much the same can be said of the rivers, canals and coastal waters and even of the atmosphere.

The need for a new concept of common resources

There is therefore a link between the farmer who allows his soil to be washed downstream, spoiling someone else's crops, and the transmigrant who leaves his unprofitable plot to cut undersized timber illegally in a forest allocated by the state to a plywood-mill owner for timber extraction. It is the same as the link between pollution of Bangkok's waterways and of Kuala Lumpur's atmosphere. The link lies in the concept of the environment as a common resource-the most important of all social resources-but one which is too often treated as an externality to private property rather than as a common which is socially manageable for the good of all. The colonial period bequeathed to this region the institution of private property in its modern sense, with full rights of use and disposal, as well as a set of economies based on the exploitation of natural resources. Underlying all environmental issues are the ultimate contradictions between individual and social benefit, and between present and future benefit, the resolution of which is the basis of stable social organization. Development and stability are unfortunately incompatible, and no society in the modern changing world has yet resolved these contradictions in a dynamic context. Most certainty, they have not been resolved in South-East Asia where they have emerged in very sharp focus.

Yet the environment itself is not stable. Disaster does not arise under the mean conditions published in climatological tables or found in estimates of erosion rates over time. It arises when, for example, several hundred millimetres of rain fall in a week-as has happened at many times and places in the region during the past century, bringing down whole hillsides, flooding towns and washing crops out of the ground. It arises when drought strikes, permitting the spread of fires as in 1983, 1987 and 1991, and earlier but with far less damage in 1914, 1902 and 1877. These are the occasions when mismanagement of the environment is starkly exposed, giving rise to alarm.

However global climate develops in the future, such occasions will surely recur. Global climatic change will come to South-East Asia mainly from external sources. but not entirely: not only is the region now a significant producer of some greenhouse gases, but it already has problems of acid rain. Moreover. at least two countries are at particular hazard because much of their built-up environment is close to sea level, so low as to be vulnerable even to quite ordinary high-water events. Urban-generated heat is already a serious problem, accentuated by atmospheric pollution. without the additional threat from global warming.

All these issues are raised again and again in the chapters that follow. Yet all are interconnected. They either arise from, or are made worse by, the growing pressures on regional resources from population and development, the continued use of air and water as a sink for wastes, the persistence of hard-core poverty in a region of comparative affluence, and the continuing dependence on the exploitation of natural resources to nourish this affluence. The environment is a common social good, yet the institutions created to manage it exist more on paper than in reality. Barber ( 1989a) remarks that its institutional frameworks for environmental and resource management are a patchwork rather than a system. They include the traditional practices and institutions of the society which still operate at a local level, colonial legislation. Iand allocation and reservation, modern sectoral legislation and post-Stockholm environmental laws accompanied, or followed, by the creation of new bureaucracies. Especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and perhaps with most effect in Singapore, there are strong nongovernmental organizations, well-supported among the middle classes, which are vocal on environmental issues. Moreover, these issues often get excellent coverage in the media, better than in many other lands. However, several of the environmental ministries and agencies created in the 1970s are without line responsibility, and almost all have very limited professional staff; for example, the Department of Environment in Malaysia had, in the mid-1980s, only 55 professionals charged with a wide range of duties over the whole country, but lacking both equipment and funds (Sham, 1987: 64-5). In Indonesia, Hardjono (1991: 13) notes:

The State Minister of Population and the Environment, who does not head a department. lacks the competence to make, let alone enforce, ultimate judgements on land-use and development proposals. Government Regulation No. 29 of 1986 concerning Environmental Impact Analysis' with its forty clauses that include reference to various interdepartmental commissions at different levels. has not helped to simplify a complex problem. especially since it makes no mention of legal consequences for those who ignore its stipulations.

She goes on to cite a number of examples in which intended environmental management decisions have been successfully subverted.

Several governments, including those of Indonesia and Malaysia, have made firm statements of intent to strengthen environmental management in their development plans for the first half of the 1990s, but there is still a great deal to be done before such statements are translated into reality. Actual responsibility for environmental management is often widely dispersed among ministries and agencies, whose primary goals are not centrally concerned with the environment, and which are not legally or administratively obliged to accept direction from the environmental ministries. Cooperation is difficult to achieve, and the situation in practice is not SO unlike that described by Ziegler ( 1987) for the former Soviet Union, where fragmentation and lack of co-ordination meant little attention was paid to secondary questions such as environmental management, or a sophisticated balance of diverse social and economic goals. Writing before Chernobyl, or the revelation of many other environmental disasters, Ziegler had called attention to an aspect which is also potentially important in SouthEast Asia, which is the link between environmental protection and foreign policy. Adherence to international standards, co-operation in environmental matters, and changes in management in sympathy with trends in international opinion are not central to but are nevertheless elements in the foreign policy of any country. Similarly, national environmental pressure groups, both within and outside government, gain useful support by seeking foreign expert participation in the analysis of their problems. This has been true in Eastern Europe: it is also true of South-East Asia, where the Yogyakarta conference was one part of such a process.

However, it needs to be stressed that the situation in South-East Asia is that of a political economy dominated by pride in the achievements of development and an impatience to see it advance further. Large state sectors still claim sovereign control over resources and their bureaucracies are subject to manipulation by socio-economic elites who have considerable power to distort outcomes in their favour (Barber, 1989a). The deliberations which led to this book will make no impact unless the region comes to grips with the need not only for stronger and more effective institutions of environmental management but also for a polity which places far higher emphasis than hitherto on the long-term common good.

(introductory text...)

The population situation
Population growth and the environment
The future



DURING the 1990-2010 period, South-East Asia is likely to grow by some 170 million people, implying an increase of 38 per cent from 1990 estimates. The country expected to lead this growth is Laos with a 65 per cent increase over the period, followed by Papua New Guinea (51 per cent), the Philippines (48 per cent), Vietnam (46 per cent) and Myanmar (45 per cent). Singapore's population expansion is anticipated to be the slowest at a rate of 16 per cent. Reductions in birth-rates over the past 20 years have been less than expected; hence, the fastest-growing countries are also the ones where birth-rates hover around 30-40 births per thousand. By 2010, it is expected that the rates, for the most part, will still range between 20 and 25 births per thousand.

This chapter details the South-East Asian population situation and presents corresponding data for the other regions covered by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The pressure exerted by population growth on the environment is briefly addressed, and the consequences for the environment of a faster decline in fertility is demonstrated.

The population situation

Demographic Trends and Contrasts

The countries comprising the South-East Asian region-Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Papua New Guine'-vary in terms of population size and land area. The fastest-growing among these countries is Brunei which recorded an increase of 44 per cent during 198(}90. At the other extreme is Singapore with a change of 13 per cent over the same period. Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines each grew by about 29 per cent in the 1980s.

In 1980, the region's population stood at 363.1 million. The smallest contribution to this total (5 per cent) came from Brunei's 185,000 people, and the largest (42 per cent) was accounted for by Indonesia's 151 million. Vietnam's 53.7 million and the Philippines' 48.3 million were the next largest populations. By 1990, the region was estimated to have a population in excess of 450 million. Three countries-Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines- provided 70 per cent of this total (Table 2.1). At the turn of the century, the contribution of these three countries will remain unchanged at 70 per cent and will be maintained at that level even to the year 2010.

TABLE 2. 1 Total Population by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-2010 ('000)

Subregion / Country 1980 1990 2000 2010
ESCAP 2,487,936 2,983,731 3,542,191 4,024,472
East Asia 1,176,349 1,335,605 1,510,009 1,616,039
South-East Asiaa 360,063 447,767 535,057 616,405
Brunei 185 266 333 377
Cambodia 6,400 8,246 10,046 11,539
Indonesia 150,958 184,283 218,661 246,680
Laos 3,205 4,139 5,463 6,838
Malaysia 13,763 17,891 21,983 25,169
Myanmar 33,821 41,675 51,129 60,567
Philippines 48,317 62,413 77,473 92,095
Singapore 2,415 2,723 2,997 3,170
Thailand 46,718 55,702 63,670 71,594
Vietnam 53,700 66,693 82,427 97,396
Papua New Guinea 3,086 3,874 4,845 5,846
South Asia 948,413 1,200,569 1,495,500 1,790,533
Oceaniab 22,799 26,481 30,144 33,582

Source: UN ( 1991c).
Notes: Totals may not he exact in this and following fables because of rounding. Figures from 1990 onwards are from the 'medium variant
a Subregional totals for South-East Asia do no' include Papua New Guinea. hut for the purposes of this review it has been listed under South-East Asia.
b Subregional totals for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

The demographic diversity of the region is underscored in terms of the crude density ratios (Table 2.2). In 1980, Papua New Guinea had around 7 persons inhabiting a square kilometre of land while Singapore's corresponding people-to-land ratio was 3,908. Ten years later, the crude densities were 8 and 4,406 respectively. Although not close to Singapore's crowded city conditions, the Philippines and Vietnam were the two nations with the next highest densities, ranging from about 160 persons per square kilometre in 1980 to a projected figure of between 294 and 307 persons per square kilometre three decades later. Among the subregions of ESCAP, it can be seen that South Asia is the most densely populated while Oceania averages 3 persons per square kilometre (but this masks considerable inter-country variations: 2 for Australia to over 400 for Nauru).

TABLE 2.2 Crude Density Ratios by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980 2010


Persons per Square Kilometre

Subregion/Country Land Area (square kilometres) 1980 1990 2000 2010
East Asia 11,763,000 100 114 128 137
South-East Asiaa 4,493,000 80 100 119 137
Brunei 5,765 32 46 58 65
Cambodia 181,035 35 46 55 64
Indonesia 1,904,569 79 97 115 130
Laos 236,800 13 17 23 29
Malaysia 329,749 42 54 67 76
Myanmar 676,578 50 62 76 90
Philippines 300,000 161 208 258 307
Singapore 618 3,908 4,406 4,850 5,129
Thailand 513,115 91 109 124 140
Vietnam 331,689 162 201 249 294
Papua New Guinea 462,840 7 8 10 13
South Asia 6,781,000 140 177 220 264
Oceaniab 8,509,000 3 3 4 4

Source: U N (1991a)
a Subregional ratios for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional ratios for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

During the first half of the 1980s, the region's annual rate of population growth was reported to be 2.2 per cent (Table 2.3). The variation in rates is illustrated by the difference between the highest (3.8 per cent for Brunei) and the lowest (1.2 per cent for Singapore). If Brunei maintains this rate, its 1980 population can easily double by the year 1998. Declines in the rates of change are expected in the first half of the 1990s with the region's growth rate projected to drop by 0.24 percentage points to 1.9 per cent. The largest decline will be in Brunei ( 1.3 percentage points), followed by Thailand with 0.6. However, the projected faster growth rates of Laos and Vietnam during 1990-5 should be noted. In 20 years, all annual rates of population growth are anticipated to fall below 1.9 per cent, except that of Laos which will stay around 2.4 per cent and Papua New Guinea at close to 2 per cent. The slowest-growing ESCAP subregion is East Asia; the fastest, South Asia.

Focusing on the components of growth, both South-East and South Asia had crude birth-rates in excess of the ESCAP regional average of 28 per thousand population over 1980-5 (Table 2.4). This gap narrows considerably by 1990-5 and, at least for South-East Asia, is down to 0.7 per thousand by 2000-5. However, intraregional variations in birth-rates were evident for 1980-5, with Singapore's 17 births per thousand at one extreme and Cambodia's 46 per thousand at the other. The wide disparity will still exist ten years later but Laos will have the highest rate of 44 births per thousand. By the twenty-first century, seven of the ten countries are predicted to still have crude birth-rates in excess of 20 per thousand. East Asia and Oceania both have lower than average birthrates over the whole period.

TABLE 2.3 Annual Rates of Population Growth by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-5, 1990 5 and 2000 5 (per cent)

Subregion/Country 1980-5 1990-5 2000-5
ESCAP 1.81 1.80 1.38
East Asia 1.20 1.41 0.83
South-East Asiaa 2.18 1.94 1.51
Brunei 3.80 2.50 1.50
Cambodia 2.59 2.20 1.42
Indonesia 2.06 1.82 1.30
Laos 2.29 2.92 2.41
Malaysia 2.60 2.27 1.48
Myanmar 2.09 2.09 1.80
Philippines 2.63 2.28 1.84
Singapore 1.15 1.07 0.63
Thailand 1.99 1.35 1.23
Vietnam 2.19 2.21 1.80
Papua New Guinea 2.29 2.27 1.97
South Asia 2.42 2.28 1.91
Oceaniab 1.51 1.36 1.13

Source: As for Table 2. 1.
Note: Rates shown are from the 'medium variant' .
a Subregional rates for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional rates for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

The notable diversity in fertility within the region can be attributed to two factors: rising age at marriage and organized family-planning programmes. However, the contribution of the former is fast approaching a limit; hence, any further declines in fertility will be dependent on the extent and quality of family-planning practices among couples of childbearing age.

The crude death-rate for the ESCAP region was close to 10 deaths per thousand in 1980-5, is projected to decline to below 9 in the following decade, and is forecast to drop to less than 8 during 2000-5. Again, it will be noted that East Asia and Oceania reported death-rates that were close to the minimum level. Health-related programmes undertaken in the 1950s and 1960s were mainly focused on the control of selected infectious diseases. Such programmes did not require substantial investments in health infrastructure and personnel training. Some of the measures adopted in the control of disease and mortality could be administered almost independently of the country's stage of social and economic development. The varied methods used by countries in the control of disease and mortality, as well as their diverse patterns of social and economic change, resulted in considerable variations in the pace of mortality decline inter- and intra-regionally. Pronounced inter-country variations in deathrates were manifest in 1980-5 (Table 2.5). The difference was about 14 deaths between the highest ( 19.7 deaths per thousand Cambodians) and the lowest (5.4 deaths per thousand Singaporeans). The gap is expected to narrow somewhat in 1990-5 when the difference between the highest (15.1 for Laos) and the lowest (5.1 for Malaysia) will be 10 deaths. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, only Cambodia and Laos are expected to have death-rates of around 11 per thousand.

TABLE 2.4 Crude Birth-rates by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1981-5, 1990-5 and 2000-5 (per thousand)

Subregion/Country 1980-5 1990-5 2000-5
ESCAP 28.0 26.5 21.3
East Asia 18.5 19.8 14.7
South-East Asiaa 32.8 27.5 22.0
Cambodia 45.5 36.5 25.3
Indonesia 31.8 26.6 20.2
Laos 45.1 44.2 35.4
Malaysia 32.0 27.7 19.6
Myanmar 34.3 29.7 25.1
Philippines 35.6 30.4 24.7
Singapore 17.0 16.3 12.4
Thailand 27.8 20.0 18.6
Vietnam 34.7 30.3 24.3
Papua New Guinea 35.4 33.3 28.3
South Asia 37.6 33.5 27.5
Oceaniab 20.0 18.6 16.9

Source: As for Table 2.1.
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional rates for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional rates for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

Consequences of the Changing Age Distribution

With the projected declines in fertility and mortality, it is anticipated that the age structure of South-East Asian populations will undergo some transformation. The situation in mid1990 was reassessed by the United Nations (UN) (Table 2.6). It is obvious that only Singapore, which had achieved replacement fertility in 1975, has experienced an upward shift in age structure. Thailand's later fertility decline is evident in the low level of child dependency but a sizeable youth component. The other countries still have significant proportions of infants and young children as well as juvenile entrants into the labour force.

TABLE 2.5 Crude Death-rates by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-5, 1990 5 and 2000 5 (per thousand)

Subregion/Country 1980-5 1990-5 2000-5
ESCAP 9.8 8.5 7.5
East Asia 6.6 6.6 6.8
South-East Asiaa 10.4 8.1 6.8
Cambodia 19.7 14.6 11.1
Indonesia 11.2 8.5 7.2
Laos 18.7 15.1 11.3
Malaysia 6.0 5.1 4.7
Myanmar 11.0 8.7 7.1
Philippines 8.5 7.1 6.0
Singapore 5.4 5.5 6.1
Thailand 8.0 6.5 6.3
Vietnam 11.1 8.2 6.4
Papua New Guinea 12.5 10.6 8.6
South Asia 13.3 10.6 8.4
Oceania b 8.2 8.0 7.8

Source: As for Table 2.1.
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional rates for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional rates for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

The number entering the working-age population of 15 years and above is determined by the levels of fertility and mortality 15 years earlier. Since past fertility has been high, the growth in labour force will remain higher than the rate of natural increase (births minus deaths), and is projected to exceed the population growth rate in those countries of South-East Asia where fertility has declined (Table 2.7). However, a note of caution must be sounded here. The labour-force projections in Table 2.7 have been based on earlier optimistic projections of the UN and have not been revised in line with the 1990 reassessment undertaken by the UN Secretariat.

The data suggest that in countries where fertility has fallen rapidly, the growth of the labour force soon drops behind that of the total population. The exception is Malaysia, which changed its policy in 1984 to one of encouraging population growth. In countries where the birth-rates continue to be high, the yearly rate of increase in the population of working age is expected to surpass 2 per cent in the twenty-first century. Governments in the region will be hard-pressed to provide employment for all these entrants into the labour market.

The changes in age structure will be accompanied by modifications in the causes of death, which are related in part to industrialization. The risks of road accidents and occupational hazards will grow. At the same time, age, sex and socio-economic factors must be considered in the occurrence of particular diseases. Farm workers and labourers may be exposed to a greater risk of infectious and parasitic diseases while professionals, managers and other white-collar workers may succumb to mental disorders, cerebro-vascular and cardiovascular diseases and malignant neoplasms. Policy makers wishing to improve the health of the working-age population will need to address these issues.

TABLE 2.6 Share of Population in Selected Age-groups by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1990 (per cent)


Age-group (years)

Subregion/Country 0-4 15-24 65+
ESCAP 12 20 5
East Asia 9 22 6
South-East Asiaa 13 21 4
Cambodia 16 20 3
Indonesia 12 21 4
Laos 18 19 3
Malaysia 15 20 4
Myanmar 13 21 4
Philippines 15 20 3
Singapore 9 17 6
Thailand 10 22 4
Vietnam 14 21 4
Papua New Guinea 15 21 2
South Asia 14 19 4
Oceaniab 9 18 9

Source: As for Table 2.1.
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional percentages for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional percentages for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

The still high population growth in South-East Asia as a whole in 1990-5 (estimated at over 1.9 per cent, see Table 2.3) is an outcome of high fertility and falling mortality in the past three decades. This means that women entering the childbearing ages constitute a major part of the total female population. These proportions will rise until beyond the turn of the twenty-first century for a number of countries (Table 2.8). Therefore, the size of the next generation of childbearing women can be expected to surpass the preceding one. Even if the number of births per woman diminished, the total number of births will still be greater than previous generations. Consequently, the rate of decline in the birthrates of these countries may decelerate, possibly stalling the reduction in growth rates unless countered by a rapid drop in the fertility of the younger married women. The latter should be the target of more effective family-planning programmes and other associated socio-economic changes.

TABLE 2.7 Annual Growth Rates of Population and of the Labour Force by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-5, 1990-5 and 2000-5





Subregion/Country Population Labour Force Population Labour Force Population Labour Force
East Asia 1.20 2.34 1.41 1.31 0.83 0.72
South-East Asiaa 2.18 2.47 1.94 2.19 1.51 1.85
Cambodia 2.59 1.77 2.20 0.56 1.42 2.00
Indonesia 2.06 2.43 1.82 2.20 1.30 1.76
Laos 2.29 1.84 2.92 2.17 2.41 2.15
Malaysia 2.60 2.95 2.27 2.67 1.48 2.39
Myanmar 2.09 1.94 2.09 1.81 1.80 1.71
Philippines 2.63 2.54 2.28 2.52 1.84 2.24
Singapore 1.15 1.88 1.07 0.69 0.63 0.39
Thailand 1.99 2.48 1.35 1.70 1.23 1.19
Vietnam 2.19 2.90 2.21 2.74 1.80 2.24
Papua New Guinea 2.29 2.18 2.27 2.00 1.97 1.94
South Asia 2.42 2.32 2.28 2.18 1.91 1.94
Oceaniab 1.51 1.87 1.36 1.43 1.13 1.20

Sources: See Table 2.3 for population growth rates. Labour force rates of growth were obtained from UN (1988).
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional rates for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional rates for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

TABLE 2.8 Share of Female Population Aged 15-49 Years by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-2010 (per cent)

Subregion/Country 1980 1990 2000 2010
ESCAP 48.5 52.0 52.1 52.9
East Asia 49.4 55.8 53.8 53.3
South-East Asiaa 47.9 50.9 53.6 54.7
Cambodia 56.2 53.8 48.9 52.6
Indonesia 48.0 51.3 53.9 55.4
Laos 47.1 45.8 45.7 49.9
Malaysia 49.8 50.5 52.4 55.8
Myanmar 47.2 50.0 52.0 53.3
Philippines 48.1 49.5 52.1 53.8
Singapore 58.8 59.5 55.2 49.0
Thailand 49.0 54.3 58.0 55.0
Vietnam 45.2 48.5 53.0 54.8
Papua New Guinea 46.7 48.6 49.9 53.2
South Asia 47.4 48.2 49.8 52.0
Oceaniab 49.0 51.6 51.0 49.5

Source: Computed from UN (1991b).
Note: Percentages are from the 'medium variant' . Comparable figures for Brunei are no' available.
a Subregional percentages for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional percentages for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

Changes in Spatial Distribution

The spatial distribution of population is an issue of national importance because of its manifold implications for development and the environment. Internal migration and urbanization, the most prominent aspects of spatial distribution, are of considerable concern to every government in the region. In mid-1990, the fraction of urban residents in South-East Asia varied from a low of 12 per cent in Cambodia to 100 per cent in Singapore's city-state. Brunei had nearly 60 per cent of its inhabitants dwelling in cities while the corresponding proportion for Malaysia and the Philippines was over 40 per cent. Migration to the cities will account for as much as 50 per cent of future urban growth. Indeed, the impact of migrants on urban growth may be greater than just a mere tabulation of their numbers. The selectivity of migration is such that flows into urban areas are predominantly made up of young adults whose birth-rates may exceed those of city dwellers.

The population in rural areas is not only growing at a pace very much below that of urban sectors but in some countries these rates are projected to become negative by the beginning of the twenty-first century (Table 2.9). From the annual growth rates estimated for towns and cities, it is evident that their populations will easily double in less than 15 years. Meanwhile, the rural populations will hardly grow and may even reduce in numbers in the coming century. These trends will clearly affect the balance of population between town and country. The social costs of such an imbalance may prove to be unacceptable in the long run.

TABLE 2.9 Rural and Urban Population Growth Rates by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia, 1980-5,1990-5 and 2000-5 (average annual percentage)





Subregional/Country Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban
ESCAP 0.80 4.50 0.51 4.16 0.08 3.08
East Asia 0.38 4.85 0.91 4.31 1.17 2.49
South-East Asiaa 1.45 4.33 0.95 4.09 0.28 3.47
Cambodia 2.48 3.54 1.92 4.19 0.88 4.30
Indonesia 1.00 5.37 0.48 4.56 0.17 3.36
Laos 1.73 5.58 2.14 6.00 1.42 5.12
Malaysia 1.29 4.87 0.74 4.11 -0.09 2.88
Myanmar 2.08 2.13 1.71 3.23 0.93 3.84
Philippines 1.79 3.97 1.22 3.61 0.48 3.17
Singapore 8.11 1.15 0.00 1.07 -8.11 0.63
Thailand 1.38 4.66 0.50 4.02 0.11 3.70
Vietnam 1.93 3.22 1.62 4.16 0.74 4.39
Papua New Guinea 2.01 4.06 1.80 4.62 1.21 4.70
South Asia 1.87 4.15 1.59 4.03 0.88 3.87
Oceaniab 1.84 1.38 1.24 1.40 0.54 1.36

Source: As for Table 2.1.
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional rates for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional rates for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

Population growth and the environment

A focus for discussing the impact of population growth is the expanding evidence about the association between increasing population densities and environmental degradation. Rapid population growth not only diminishes available dietary energy from food supplies on a per person basis but also jeopardizes the maintenance of present food-production levels. Brown and Postel (1987: 4) state: 'A frustration paradox is emerging.... Efforts to improve living standards are themselves beginning to threaten the health of the global economy. The very notion of progress begs for redefinition in the light of intolerable consequences unfolding as a result of its pursuit.'

There are specific examples of environmental deterioration in areas of rapid population gain. Nearly two-thirds of the 1.5 billion hectares of cropland worldwide has been brought into cultivation since the mid-1800s with a corresponding shrinkage in grasslands, wetlands, and temperate and tropical forests (Repetto, 1987: 14-15). Half of the globe's wetlands may have already been lost.

As population pressure pushes cultivation from plains and valleys into the hills, an estimated 160 million hectares of upland watersheds in tropical developing countries have been seriously eroded. On the island of Java, which contains some 60 per cent of Indonesia's total population, Birowo and Prabowo (1986) estimated that soil-erosion rates ranged from 3 to 20 or more times greater than in other parts of the country. Sediment concentration in the river basins has been assessed as from 2 to 10 times as great.

With population densities intensifying, cultivated areas tend to extend outwards and upwards-from the high-yielding lowlands into the less productive upland soils, formerly grazing or forest lands. Lower yields from these fields discourage investments in necessary conservation measures, such as check-dams or terracing. The situation is frequently aggravated by land fragmentation- another indicator of population pressure-which makes it difficult to co-ordinate conservation activities even within a single watershed. In poverty-stricken countries, public funds are spread thinly to provide services and employment for ever-increasing urban dwellers.

Pressure on Resources: 'Carrying Capacity'

Questions have been raised concerning the longer-term capability of resources within specific political boundaries to sustain present or projected population numbers. One approach-borrowed from the field of biology on the maximum population sustainable within a habitat is the concept of carrying capacity, that is, linking population with the local natural resource base. A very ambitious attempt (Higgins et al., 1984) to measure the carrying capacity of the entire developing world (except for East Asia) was undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and supported by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The study sought to estimate food-production potential in each soil/climate zone for 15 major crops at 3 different levels of farming practice: low-input, subsistence agriculture; intermediate agriculture, with the introduction of modern technology, conservation measures and improved cropping patterns; and high-level agriculture equivalent to farming practices in industrialized countries. The maximum population sustainable by each country's food output was established on the basis of average caloric and protein intakes, jointly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and FAO in 1973. The projected age and sex distributions of the population at two time periods, 1975 and 2000, were not taken into account in calculating national requirements.

Such a study has several limitations (Hendry, 1988). First, the calculations were not based on economic analysis. Secondly, no allowance was made for cropland to provide livestock feed or to produce non-food cash crops. Thirdly, the elimination of inequities in intra-country food distribution, which would increase average food requirements, was not taken into account in the calculations. Lastly, no consideration was given to other national resources or to the potential role of trade. Brookfield (1992: 28) contends that despite the masses of data utilized, and given the considerable amount of resources available to it, 'the methodology differs little from that of the early carryingcapacity calculations of the 1960s.... As a statement about "carrying capacity", this one-based on a one-sector, closed-economy model-merely reveals the impossibility of determining or even conceptualizing what it is in a real, independent world.'

More intensive use of land and water resources to meet demands from rapidly swelling populations for heightened food production, manifold industrial purposes and diverse domestic uses carries implications for the sustainability of these resources. Evidence exists which points to the severe stress placed on resources needed for food production in many regions: advancing deforestation, soil degradation and desertification. Population increments are not the only cause-poor land management, poverty, inappropriate technologies and other factors also contribute. Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) showed that degradation can arise under both high and low population densities, and under both poverty and affluence, while restorative management can also occur in all these circumstances. According to Brookfield (1992), swelling numbers of people account for only a part of the damage now being perpetrated on increasingly larger portions of the environment. The greater mobility of people and their activities, their enhanced means of inflicting harm through simple innovations such as the chain-saw, as well as all the modern industrial tools, are also partly responsible. Brookfield contends that rising numbers constitute a major element in the damage, but do not form a sufficient explanation in themselves.

But population density is not always a reliable indicator of the pressure upon resources. While it may be true that increasing population pressures have contributed to the shortening of fallow periods and to the removal of forest cover, simply calculating the density per square kilometre does not explain the population-resources relationship sufficiently. Two factors may decide how much damage a person wreaks upon his environment. One is lifestyle: how much that person consumes. The other is the kind of technology used and how much damage or waste it creates. Population size fixes the number of persons and, thus, the total level of damage. To illustrate, population growth is responsible for a greater share of deforestation than commercial logging or ranching. Much of the forest that has been cleared in developing countries has become cropland for expanding populations that cannot be accommodated on existing farmland. These populations may be responsible for more than 80 per cent of the loss of forest cover.

Poverty, of course, is partly to blame for soil erosion. Poor peasants cannot buy fertilizers or pay for the conservation measures needed to protect the soil; and population growth forces farmers to exhaust the soil or to use marginal land. Unchecked soil erosion could cause a drop of close to one-third in food production from rain-fed cropland. This is clearly a direct danger to human life in developing countries.

The future

As developing countries industrialize, lifestyles and technologies will parallel those of the developed nations; for example, the car population world-wide over 1990-2010 is projected to reach some 700 million from the present 400 million, a rate of increase double that of human populations. Much of the increment will take place in the Third World. Should these trends and population growth continue, by 2025, developing countries will be emitting over four times as much carbon annually as developed countries do today.

Clearly, many lines of action are called for to save the environment for future generations. Changes in lifestyles will entail reductions in levels of consumption and wastage and increases in recycling. Technological advances will involve improvements in energy efficiency and efforts at soil conservation. Deforestation must be halted and reversed. But population is part of every equation of redemption: reducing population increments will make an immense contribution.

The UN Secretariat has prepared three 'variants' of their population projections. The 'medium' variant has been featured in the tables in this chapter. However, a 'low' variant demonstrates what would happen if birth-rates declined at a faster pace. On this projection, there would be 7,591 million inhabitants on the globe by 2025. This is 913 million less than the more likely medium variant. In South-East Asia, the low variant projects a population of 637 million by the first quarter of the twenty-first century, 89 million fewer than that expected in the 'medium' variant.

For South-East Asia as a whole, the difference between the two variants is 4.4 births per thousand population (Table 2.10) or 0.4 of a child in terms of the woman's completed family size (2.0 children per woman for the medium variant as against 1.6 children per woman for the low variant). Two countries-Cambodia and Laos-are estimated to have relatively high birthrates even in 2025. The medium-variant rates exceed the lowvariant rates by only 1.9 and 2.5 births per thousand respectively. The resultant total fertility rates for the low-variant projection are over 2 children per woman. Singapore which under the medium variant has a crude birth-rate of 11.3 will only reduce this by 2.3 births per thousand in the low variant.

If the low-variant projection can be achieved, it would have the same impact on lowering carbon-dioxide emissions as halving deforestation; pressure on soil and water resources would be lowered; and provision of improved education and health services would be facilitated.

The achievement of these goals has been demonstrated by such countries as China, Singapore and Sri Lanka. A new priority for family planning and population programmes to persuade couples to have smaller families is urgently required. Improvements in health, education and the status of women will all be necessary. Through these efforts, the possibilities for present generations will be expanded and poverty reduced. More importantly, these steps will keep the choices open for future generations. Table 2.10 highlights the fact that SouthEast Asia will gain some 200 280 million people in the next 35 years (cf. Table 2.1), depending on the pace of fertility decline. This unavoidable increase in numbers will be greatest in those countries that are already facing ecological problems and are relatively poor; hence, the prospects of an environmentally sustainable development for South-East Asia is questionable unless the human problems are resolved and a balance achieved between population and resources in the long run.

TABLE 2.10 Projected Populations and Crude Birth-rates by ESCAP Subregion and by Country in South-East Asia: Medium and Low Variants, 2025


Population Projections ('000)

Crude Birth-rates
(per '000)









ESCAP 4,626,791 4,150,490 15.8 12.3
East Asia 1,736,879 1,575,461 12.6 10.0
South-East Asiaa 726,017 636,928 16.7 12.3
Cambodia 13,989 12,858 19.8 17.9
Indonesia 285,913 246,631 16.3 11.6
Laos 8,600 7,591 20.4 17.9
Malaysia 30,116 25,744 16.7 12.2
Myanmar 72,619 63,215 17.3 13.3
Philippines 111,509 101,847 17.4 13.4
Singapore 3,319 3,052 11.3 9.0
Thailand 80,911 69,699 14.4 10.3
Vietnam 117,491 104,892 17.7 12.9
Papua New Guinea 7,291 6,532 19.7 15.1
South Asia 2,161,837 1,933,493 18.0 14.1
Oceaniab 38,207 34,9s5 14.0 11.2

Source: As for Table 2.1.
Note: Comparable figures for Brunei are not available.
a Subregional figures for South-East Asia do not include Papua New Guinea.
b Subregional figures for Oceania include Papua New Guinea.

(introductory text...)

Trends in economic growth, 1961-1987
Structural change
Factors responsible for strong ASEAN growth
Trends in urbanization
Urban primacy and megacity issues
Levers to influence urbanization and urban structure


Trends in economic growth, 1961-1987

THE remarkable economic performance of the Asian newly industrializing countries (NlCs) has received world-wide attention because, along with Japan, they showed by far the largest gains in relative per capita income in the world from 1960 to 1987 (Tables 3.1, 3.2). The record of growth among the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (other than the Philippines) since the mid-1960s has been so strong that it is viewed with some bewilderment by planners from Africa and Latin America, where economic trends in many countries have been dismal. Although there was a downturn in most countries in 1982-5 (growth rates actually going into reverse in Singapore,' Malaysia and the Philippines in 1985), over the 1980s as a whole, ASEAN countries continued to perform strongly, with the exception of the Philippines, though even the latter showed signs of recovery after 1987 (Tyabji, 1990: Table 2.4).

The performance of the ASEAN economies dependent on trade and financial flows from the rest of the world-was weak during the mid-1980s due to the global recession, rising protectionism, the debt crisis and declining primary commodity prices combined with exchange-rate volatility. In 1987-8, the region's economic situation improved considerably with higher commodity prices and an upsurge in direct foreign investment. The longer-term effects of the latter and the structural reforms being undertaken by some countries to promote growth contribute to optimism about short-term prospects. However, given their dependence on trade, the outcome of the ongoing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, Uruguay) round will be of critical importance to ASEAN countries (Tyabji, 1990: 37).

Economic Growth in Individual Countries

Indonesia relies heavily on receipts from oil exports. Declining terms of trade impacted adversely on gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the balance of payments, forcing two devaluations in 1983 (by 28 per cent) and 1986 (by 31 per cent). These devaluations, combined with a more favourable external environment and the country's decision to liberalize trade, and to deregulate and privatize the economy, have aided recovery. Such structural reforms, implemented since the mid-1980s, place the economy more firmly on an export-led path to growth and should improve the sectoral balance. In 1987-8, non-oil exports, for the first time since the early 1970s, exceeded those of oil and gas.

TABLE 3.1 Per Capita GNP Comparisons, 1960 1987


Per Capita GNP (dollars)

Relative Per Capita GNP (Asian Developing Country Average as base)

Percentage Change in Relative Per Capita GNP

1960 1987 1960 1987 1960-87
Asian NlCs  
Hong Kong 348 8,070 3.6 15.9 349.1
South Korea 152 2,690 1.6 5.3 242.8
Singapore 432 7,940 4.4 15.7 256.0
Taiwan 138 4,630 1.4 9.2 549.8
South-East Asia  
Indonesia 76 450 0.8 0.9 14.7
Malaysia 278 1,810 2.8 3.6 26.1
Philippines 165 590 1.7 1.2 -30.7
Thailand 96 850 1.0 1.7 71 5
Myanmar 61 200 0.6 0.4 -36.5
Pacific Rim (Developed countries)  
United States 2,817 18,530 28.7 36.6 27.4
Japan 458 15,760 4.7 31.1 566.4
Australia 1,586 11,100 16.2 21.9 35.5
New Zealand 1,576 7,750 16.1 15.3 -4.8

Sources: Campbell (1993: Table 3.1); UN (1976): World Bank (1988).

In Malaysia, economic strategy and policies in the 1970s and 1980s were predicated on the need to achieve the New Economic Policy (NEP) targets of eradicating poverty, and promoting employment and wealth distribution in conformity with the racial distribution of the population. Malaysia's response to global recession, declining terms of trade and the need to achieve the NEP targets resulted in a sharply increased government expenditure-to-GDP ratio reaching 48 per cent in 1982, and external debt amounting to 66 per cent of gross national product (GNP) in 1986. Simultaneously, unemployment increased. Subsequent remedial policy responses have involved sharply reduced government (development) spending and measures to increase private investment.

TABLE 3.2 Demographic, Economic and Social Indicators in South-East Asian and Selected Countries,1965-1988


Country GDP
Real CDPGrowth Rate
(% p.a.)
Share of
(% p a )
Real Growth
Rate of
(% p.a )
(% of total)
Number Enrolledin Secondary
School as
Percentage of
1965-80 1980-8 1965 1988 1980 8 1980-5   1965 1987
Singapore 23.9 9,070 10.1 5.7 24 37 4.5 5.9 100 45 7l
Indonesia 83.2 440 8.0 5.1 13 36 5.1 1.1 27 12 46
Malaysia 34.7 1,940 7.3 4.6 25 n.a. 6.1 10.7 41 28 59
Philippines 39.2 630 5.9 0.1 28 34 -1.8 -2.1 41 41 68
Thailand 57.9 1,000 7.2 6.0 23 35 6.6 8.4 25 14 28
Australia 245.9 12,340 4.0 3.3 39 34 2.2 5.7 86 62 98
Japan 2,843.7 21,020 6.5 3.9 43 41 4.7 7.3 77 82 96
South Korea 171.3 3,600 9.6 9.9 25 43 12.6 13.0 69 35 88
Vietnam n.a. 130 n.a. n.a. n.a. 35 n.a. 8.3 19 23 42
Laos 0.5 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 18 2 23
Myanmar n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.2 24 15 n.a.
Papua New Guinea 3.5 810 4.1 3.2 18 31 5.6 1.5 15 4 12

For the 1990s, Malaysia is charting a slightly different course. Rather than allocating finances to heavy industry where there is no comparative advantage, economic policy has recognized the strength of resource-based consumer and export-oriented industries. At the same time, its foreign investment policy has become less restrictive. The shift in policy emphasis from the racial distribution of wealth to poverty eradication concurrent with the transition from the NEP of 1970-90 to the New Development Policy (NDP) of 1991-2020 should result in an increase in private investment.

Until 1984, Singapore outperformed the rest of ASEAN, implying that it was unaffected by either the global recession or the world debt crisis. With the benefit of hindsight, the response to these two events was probably delayed by the construction boom. The economy entered its first recession for two decades in 1985 when construction activities dropped sharply, as did regional demand in the wake of the sharp decline in commodity prices. Singapore experienced the oil shock in reverse, but recovery was swift. Economic growth in 1987 and 1988 was well above the government targets of between 4 and 6 per cent. Unlike the rest of ASEAN, Singapore is not beset by debt and balance of payments problems, nor does she have an unemployment problem.

Thailand and the Philippines provide a stark contrast in growth. Countries of similar population size, they began the period with comparable per capita GNP. However, the consistently higher growth rates in Thailand over the period and its declining rate of population expansion gave her a sizeable per capita GNP edge by 1985. The Philippines' economic (and political) difficulties left their scars during the 1980s. While the economy has been more resilient since 1986, its heavy debt burden and balance of payments problems, unemployment and poverty remain serious concerns. For these reasons, structural adjustment has been minimal and further change will be necessary to put the economy on a more sustainable growth path.

During the first half of the 1980s, Thailand experienced a rising fiscal deficit, deterioration in the current account and steeply increasing external debt. Restrictive fiscal policies, combined with a baht devaluation of close to 15 per cent, were the major policies implemented as corrective or stabilization measures. Since then, assisted by an improved external environment including falling oil prices, the economy has rebounded with manufactured and service exports providing the impetus.

Meanwhile, Myanmar and Vietnam have followed their own, rather bumpy, roads towards prosperity. Following its poor performance in the 1960s, Myanmar enjoyed a period of economic expansion from the mid-1970s to 1983, recording strong growth in food production over this period (James, Naya and Meier, 1989:147). Vietnam performed similarly from 1980 to 1984, but fell on harder times in 1985 and 1986, partly due to mismanaged monetary reform in 1985. Both countries suffered from hyperinflation, balance of payments crises and lack of access to foreign capital (largely self-imposed in the case of Myanmar, but enforced by a US trade embargo in the case of Vietnam). Each has attempted economic reform since the mid-1980s, with greater success in Vietnam than in Myanmar, which has suffered from stagnant or declining production in many fields (FEER, 1990: 97). In 1989, Vietnam reemerged as a major rice exporter after nearly 30 years (FEER, 1990: 246), indicating some success in expanding rice production ahead of its growing population.

Structural change

Clearly, the region, with the exception of Myanmar, has experienced a shift out of agriculture since 1965 (Table 3.3), but the speed of the shift and the sectors which have benefited most have varied between countries (Table 3.4). This is undoubtedly due to the initial big differences in industrial structure in South-East Asian countries, and also to different policies and experiences over the period. But the share of industry increased in all ASEAN countries (but only slightly in the Philippines), partly due to the adoption of deliberate diversification strategies focused on industrialization. By contrast, in Australia and Japan, industry's share of GDP declined, reflecting a so-called 'post-industrial' move into services.

Changes in employment structure over the course of economic development generally parallel changes in the structure of production. In the case of employment, however, the shift out of agriculture is muted because output per worker (often imprecisely referred to as labour productivity) is lower in agriculture, and this continues to be the case throughout much of the development process. Thus, in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, agriculture's share of employment is around twice as high as its share of output (55 and 24 per cent in lndonesia, and 52 and 27 per cent in the Philippines, in the early 1980s). It remains around twice as high in developed countries such as Australia, France, Japan and the United States, even though the share of agriculture in employment in these countries has generally fallen below 10 per cent.

TABLE 3.3 Growth of Production by Sector in South-East Asian Countries, 1965-1987 (per cent)






Country 1965-80 1980-7 1965-80 1980-7 1965-80 1980-7 1965-80 1980-7
Indonesia 4.3 3.0 11.9 2.1 1 2.0 7.8 7.3 5.6
Malaysia n.a. 3.0 n.a. 5.8 n.a. 6.3 n.a. 3.8
Philippines 4.6 1.8 8.0 -2.8 7.5 -1.1 5.2 0.0
Singapore 2.8 -3.9 11.9 4.0 13.2 3.3 9.4 6.4
Thailand 4.6 3.7 9.5 5.9 11.2 6.0 7.6 6.4
Papua New Guinea 3.2 2.2 n.a. 5.3 n.a. 1.0 n.a. 2.0

Source: World Bank (1989b).
n.a. = Not available

TABLE 3.4 Structural Change in Output by Sector along the Asia-Pacific Rim, 1965 and 1987 (per cent)






Country 1965 1987 1965-87 1965 1987 1965 1987 1965 1987
Asian NICS  
Hong Kong 2 0 -100 40 29 24 22 58 70
South Korea 38 11 -71 25 43 18 30 37 46
Singapore 3 1 67 24 38 15 29 73 62
Taiwan 18 6 -67 48 51 n.a. n.a. 47 43
South-East Asia  
Indonesia 56 26 -54 13 33 8 14 31 41
Malaysia 28 22 -21 25 38 9 n.a. 47 40
Philippines 26 24 -8 28 33 20 25 46 43
Thailand 32 16 -50 23 35 14 24 45 49
Myanmar 35 37 6 13 16 n.a. n.a. 52 47
Papua New Guinea 42 34 -19 18 26 n.a. 9 41 40
Pacific Rim (Developed countries)  
Australia 9 4 -56 39 33 26 17 52 63
Canada 6 3 -50 41 35 27 19 53 62
Japan 9 3 -67 43 41 32 29 48 57
New Zealand n.a. 8 n.a. n.a. 31 n.a. 21 n.a. 61
United States 3 2 -33 38 30 28 20 59 68

Sources: ADB (1989b): World Bank (1989b).
n.a. = Not available.

Change in employment structure over 1965-80 (Table 3.5) shows that the relative shift from agriculture was achieved through a rise in both the share of employment in industry (except in the Philippines) and in services (except in Singapore). Agricultural employment remained much higher in Thailand than in the other countries. It should be noted that Thai censuses and surveys tend to overstate this figure relative to that in other countries of the region, by taking approaches that capture a very high proportion of rural women in the unpaid family worker' net. Even so, the continuing relatively high share of agricultural employment cannot be disputed; strong growth of agricultural output in Thailand between 1970 and 1985 was not achieved through rapidly rising productivity per agricultural worker (James, Naya and Meier, 1989: Table 5.1) but through continued growth in the agricultural work-force. There is an increasingly wide gap in labour productivity and income between agriculture and other sectors; value added per worker in industry and services is about ten times that in the primary sector (Lo and Kamal Salih, 1987: 48-54). A continuation of the Thai 'success story' will require a shift of large numbers of workers out of agriculture into higher-productivity sectors.

TABLE 3.5 Labour Force by Sector in South-East Asian and Other Countries, 1965 and 1980 (per cent)





Country 1965 1980 1965 1980 1965 1980
Indonesia 71 57 9 13 21 30
Philippines 58 '52 16 16 26 33
Thailand 82 71 5 10 13 19
Malaysia 59 42 13 19 29 39
Singapore 6 2 27 38 68 61
Vietnam 79 68 6 12 15 21
Laos 81 76 5 7 15 17
Cambodia 80 n.a. 4 n.a. 16 n.a.
Myanmar 64 53 14 19 23 28
Papua New Guinea 87 76 6 10 7 14
South Korea 55 36 15 27 30 37
Japan 26 11 32 34 42 55

Source: World Bank (1987b).
n.a. = Not available.

Factors responsible for strong ASEAN growth

In view of the poor economic growth performance of many developing countries in the 1970s and 1980s, it is important to explore the causes of the relatively strong showing of the ASEAN countries. It is also useful to consider why the 'ASEAN 4' have not until now grown as rapidly as the NlCs (for a thoughtful evaluation, see James, Naya and Meier, 1989: Chapter 1; J. A. C. Mackie, 1988). Explanations frequently include the relatively stable political climate, high levels of both public and private investment, efficient use of advanced technology, either home-grown (as with Malaysia's rubber and palm-oil research) or imported, and improving human-resource endowments. Williamson (1993) has stressed the role of the relatively egalitarian income distribution in ASEAN countries. Among other things, this may have fostered the development of education, an important factor in improving the stock of human capital.

Another major influence on rates of development is undoubtedly the degree of outward orientation in trade policy. The World Bank (1987b) uses this criterion to compare the economic growth performance of countries. Three groups are identified:

TABLE 3.6 Classification of South-East Asian Countries by Trade Orientation, 1963-1973 and 1973-1985

Period Strongly Outward- oriented Moderately Outward- oriented Moderately Inward- oriented Strongly Inward- oriented
1963-73 Singapore Indonesia Philippines  
1973 85 Singapore Malaysia Indonesia  
    Thailand Philippines  

Source: As for Table 3.5.

  1. Those strongly outward-oriented where trade controls are non-existent or very low, and there is little or no use of direct controls and licensing arrangements, etc.;
  2. Those moderately outward-oriented where the overall incentive structure is biased towards production for domestic, rather than export, markets, the average rate of effective protection for home markets is relatively low, and the use of direct controls and licensing arrangements is limited; and
  3. Those moderately inward-oriented where the overall incentive structure is distinctly protectionist, a wide range of relatively high and effective protection rates are applied, there is use of direct import controls and licensing is extensive, there is clear bias against exports, and the exchange rate is overvalued.

Singapore has been strongly outward-oriented throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but the rest-the 'ASEAN 4'-have had more difficulty in moving away from heavily protected import-substitution industries (Table 3.6) Malaysia and Thailand have been in the moderately outward-oriented group throughout the same period. Indonesia moved from this group in the 1973-85 period to join the Philippines as moderately inward-oriented, that is, characterized by extensive use of non-tariff trade harriers and price controls (Naya, 1987: 55).

The relative growth of ASEAN countries is consistent with the World Bank's evaluation based on data for a much larger number of countries. Economic performance of the outward-oriented economies has been superior in almost all respects to that of the inward-oriented economies. Outward orientation encourages efficient firms and discourages inefficient ones. By creating a more competitive environment for both the private and public sectors, it also promotes higher productivity and, hence, faster economic growth (see also James, Naya and Meier, 1989: 207-25; World Bank, 1987b: Chapter 5).


In 1982, manufacturing as a share of GDP ranged from 13 per cent in Indonesia to 21 per cent in Singapore. Per capita, manufacturing value added varied enormously, from just $72 in Indonesia to over $1,550 in Singapore at 1982 current prices. All ASEAN countries, with the partial exception of the Philippines, exhibited very rapid industrial growth. Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have achieved real annual growth of manufacturing in excess of 10 per cent since 1960. Indonesia's sluggish industrial growth of the 1960s, about 5 per cent per annum, accelerated to 15 per cent in the 1970s-the highest in ASEAN and similar to South Korea's (Ariff and Hill, 1985: 25).

Throughout ASEAN, the growth of manufacturing production exceeded that of either services or agriculture over 1965-80. The trends were not so clear in the 1980s, apparently due to the economic slow-down in the mid-1980s. Only in Indonesia and Malaysia did manufacturing output grow faster than that of services and agriculture over this period. In Singapore, it lagged well behind services, and in the Philippines, manufacturing actually experienced negative product growth over the period (for the reasons, see World Bank, 1987a).

Trends in the distribution of manufacturing value added between 1970 and 1987 have been studied across very broad industrial groups (Table 3.7). Unfortunately, these groupings are not disaggregated enough to give a clear picture about the movement into higher value-added areas of manufacturing; for example, electronics is included in machinery and transport equipment, but other activities which are much more traditional in nature are also included in this category. The 'Other' category comprises a wide range of industries: wood and related products, paper and related products, petroleum and related products, basic metals and mineral products, fabricated metal products and professional goods, and other industries.

TABLE 3.7 Structure of Manufacturing Value Added by Industry in South-East Asian Countries, 1970 and 1987 (per cent, current prices)







1970 1987 1970 1987 1970 1987 1970 1987 1970 1987
Food, beverages
and tobacco n.a. 22 26 21 39 43 12 5 43 29
Textiles and                    
clothing n.a. 13 3 6 8 8 5 4 13 1 8
Machinery and transport
equipment n.a. 8 8 22 8 8 28 52 9 13
Chemicals n.a. 9 9 15 13 10 4 12 6 7
Other n.a. 48 54 37 32 30 51 27 29 33
Total manu
facturing   100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Source: World Bank ( 1990c).
n.a. = Not available.

Even so, some important trends are in evidence, consistent with Ariff and Hill's (1985: 25) observation that 'the period after 1970 witnessed a major reorientation in the structure and specialization of ASEAN manufacturing'. Although food, beverages and tobacco represents the largest subsector of ASEAN manufacturing,4 its share has shown a clear decline in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, offset by a rise in the machinery and transport-equipment industry and the chemical industry. In Malaysia and Thailand, the textile and clothing industry has also increased in importance. There has been much less shift in relative importance of the broad industrial groups in the Philippines, probably reflecting her industrial stagnation over the 1980s.

Malaysia's push towards the export market in the early 1970s placed special emphasis on electronics and electrical products. As a result, the share of 'non-traditional' manufactures in total exports increased from 10.4 per cent in 1968 to 21.9 per cent by 1980 (Ariff, 1983: 2). The Philippines and Thailand followed suit in the second half of the 1970s, with the former focusing on the export of manufactured wood products and clothing, and the latter concentrating on textiles, clothing and processed food.

Ariff and Hill (1985: 26) review the changes in these words:

The ASEAN manufacturing sector also displays the impact of policies designed to increase 'industrial deepening', with sectoral emphasis that differs between countries. Singapore has emphasised the production of chemicals, steel products and machinery and equipment, although it disposed of motor vehicle assembly altogether in 1979. In the other four countries, the focus of industrial deepening has been on iron and steel and basic chemicals industries, which are primarily domestic market oriented. Another interesting feature of the ASEAN manufacturing sector has been the growing importance of resource-based industries, reflecting the region's relatively rich resource endowment. Agro-based industries, which process rubber, wood and other agricultural raw materials mainly for the export market, have long been important in the region. The processing of non-renewable resources, on the other hand, represents a relatively recent phenomenon. Indonesia and Singapore are likely to become the region's major centres for petrochemical industries, while Malaysia and Thailand also have plans to set up petrochemical industries based on local natural gas. In addition, chemical fertilizers (of which the ASEAN region will soon become a sizeable net exporter), aluminium smelting (Indonesia), copper smelting (the Philippines) and zinc smelting (Thailand) are all developing rapidly.

Indonesia has undergone impressive industrialization and, because of its size, promises to develop into a significant industrial power in due course. Hill (1990: 79) writes:

The picture is one of dramatic growth and transformation since the late 1960s when Indonesia was one of the least industrialised countries for its size.... Indonesia's industrial transformation is evident not only in rapid output and employment growth but also in a transition to more capital and skill-intensive industries, a narrowing in the earlier very large (almost 'dualistic') productivity differentials, strong productivity and wage growth, a broadening of the industrial base outside of Java, and a probable reduction in concentration levels (at least by establishment).

Hill's analysis of industrialization in Indonesia is based on the 1986 Economic Census results, which also made possible revision of industrial figures for earlier years. These revisions suggest not only a higher share of manufacturing in GDP but also a more rapid industrial growth in the 1980s than was previously estimated (Hill, 1990: 82).

Indonesian manufacturing is still dominated by the oil and gas-processing industries, which together account for over 25 per cent of value added. Output of the next largest industry, food products, is just 22-27 per cent that of oil and gas, depending on whether small industry is included. A group of industries including tobacco products, textiles, wood products, food products (almost 60 per cent of which is sugar processing and coconut-oil production) and basic metals are the next most important in that order, accounting for over 50 per cent of non-oil output (Hill, 1990: 83). This industrial structure accords very much with Indonesia's strong resource base and relatively low per capita income.

ASEAN manufacturing is characterized by great diversity in terms of firm size. With the possible exception of Singapore, all countries exhibit a pronounced dualism in industrial structure, featuring the co-existence of cottage industries and large capitalintensive plants, often within the same industry. In some countries, especially Malaysia, a substantial proportion of large firms is located in export-processing zones. The large firms make the greatest contribution to manufacturing output, but in terms of employment small firms are of considerable importance (Chee, 1986). Cottage and household industries, generally defined as employing less than 10 persons, appear to be a significant source of employment only in Indonesia. Once they are excluded from the analysis, the employment and value-added shares of small-scale industries (SIs), defined as employing 10-49 persons in manufacturing activities, are far lower than those of large-scale industries (LIB, 100 or more persons), but substantially greater than those of mediumscale industries (Mls). In the Philippines, the share of small- and medium-scale industries (SMIs) in manufacturing employment and value added is relatively minor, while in Malaysian manufacturing, on the other hand, SMls appear to be well represented. Singapore lies between the two extremes. In Indonesia, the SMI share in employment is much larger than the share in value added and, to a lesser extent, this is the case in all these countries, indicating that SMI labour productivity is low (Ariff and Hill, 1985: 2832).

Trends in urbanization

Levels of urbanization in South-East Asia are low by world standards, and even by developing-country standards (Table 3.8). Due to factors such as different definitions of urban areas, inter-country comparability is questionable, as indicated by the inclusion in the table of an alternative set of estimates for Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia which the author believes provides data somewhat more comparable with the other countries than the data employed by the United Nations (UN, 1989).

Since 1960, urbanization has been progressing steadily, but not dramatically. The growth rates of urban population, at 3-5 per cent per annum, however, have been high, because modest rates of rural-urban migration are added to still high rates of natural increase. The logistic curve is generally accepted as the standard path of urbanization and most South-East Asian countries are located near the inflexion point on the curve where accelerating urbanization can be expected, especially if rates of economic growth are rapid. Despite the slowing of population growth rates in most of these countries, this would mean a continuation of present rates of urban population expansion for some time, and the UN projections (Table 3.8) imply that a 4 per cent rate of urban growth (that is, a doubling of urban population in 17 years) will not be uncommon in the 1990s.

TABLE 3.8 South-East and East Asian Urbanization Trends and Projections, 1960-2005 Per Cent Urban

  1960 1970 1980 2000
World total 33.6 37.2 39.9 48.2
South-East Asia 17.6 20.2 24.0 35.5
Indonesia 14.6 17.1 22.2 36.5
Thailand 12.5 13.3 17.3 29.4
  (16.2) (20.8) (24.5)a (40.0)
Philippines 30.3 33.0 37.4 49.0
Malaysia 25.2 27.0 34.2 50.4
    (28.7) (37.4) (n.a.)
Myanmar 19.3 22.8 23.9 28.2
Cambodia 10.3 11.7 10.3 14.5
Vietnam 14.7 18.3 19.3 27.1
Laos 7.9 9.6 13.4 25.1
Papua New Guinea 2.7 9.8 13.1 20.2
East Asia 25.0 26.9 28.1 32.6
China 16.8 19.3 20.4 25.1
Japan 62.5 71.2 76.2 77.7
South Korea 27.7 40.7 56.9 80.5
North Korea 40.2 50.1 59.7 72.9

Urban Population Growth Rates (average annual percentage)

  1960-5 1970--5 1980-5 1990-5 2000-5
World total 2.97 2.65 2.42 2.55 2.52
South-East Asia 3.77 4.14 3.96 3.83 3.44
Indonesia 3.72 4.92 4.60 3.96 3.24
Thailand 3.53 5.59 4.66 4.02 3.70
Philippines 3.85 4.02 3.81 3.71 3.32
Malaysia 3.77 4.87 4.51 3.87 2.77
Myanmar 3.83 3.23 2.09 3.21 3.84
Cambodia 3.48 -2.09 3.54 4.19 4.30
Vietnam 4.18 2.86 3.27 4.16 4.38
Laos 3.14 5.52 5.58 5.45 4.77
Papua New Guinea 15.44 6.08 4.35 4.88 5.05

Sources: UN ( 1989); figures in brackets from Jones (1983: Table 2); Ashakul (1990).
a 1978 figure.
n.a. = Not available.

The relatively low levels of urbanization in South-East Asia, then, are the result of high rates of population growth in rural areas rather than the failure of cities to reach substantial size (Hackenberg, 1980). Indeed, three of the megacities of South-East Asia-Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok-will each have exceeded 10 million people by the year 2000 (Table 3.9). They will each have left Sydney and Melbourne, which were larger than any of them in 1940, far behind. Singapore will also be left far behind because of its lack of a rural hinterland and its now very low rate of natural increase.

TABLE 3.9 Growth of South-East Asian. South Korean and Australian Metropolises, 1940-2000

  Population (millions) Percentage Increase
Metropolis 1940 1960 1980 2000 1960-2000
Jakartaa 0 8 0.3b 6.5 12.0 300
Bandung 0.3 1.0b 1.8 3.4 240
Surabaya 0.5 1.0b 1.7 3.2 220
Hanoia 0.1 0.9 2.5 3.4 278
Ho Chi Minh Citya 0.5 2.3 3.4 5.0 117
Manilaa 0.9 2.4 5.9 11.5 379
Singapore 0.7 1.6 2.4 3 0 87
Bangkoka 0.6 2.3 4 7 10.3 348
Kuala Lumpara 0.2 0.4 1.3 3.8 850
Yangon (Rangoon)a 0.5 1.0 2.2 4.5 354
Seoul n.a. 2 4 8.3 13.0 342
Pusan n.a. 1.2 3.1 5.8 406
Melbourne 1.1 1.8 2.8 3.3 83
Sydney 1.3 2.1 3 2 4.1 95

a Conurbation
b 1961
n.a. = Not available

Proximate Causes of Urban Growth and Urbanization

Though South-East Asian planners, mirroring popular understanding, frequently attribute urban growth to rural-urban migration, there are in fact three components of urban population growth: natural increase of the urban population, rural-urban migration and the reclassification of areas previously defined as rural. These can be combined in different proportions to produce different rates of urban population growth. Using a l-year 'accounting' perspective, the contribution of each component can be measured fairly precisely, provided that appropriate data are available.

Natural increase provides a 'floor' for urban population growth rates, and rural-urban migration and reclassification supplement this growth. Where urban proportions of the population remain small, a constant, moderate rate of outmigration from rural areas can be decisive for the development of cities. Other things being equal, its contribution will decline as the urban proportion of the population grows. But other things are often not equal, and in countries whose urban population has reached 30 or 40 per cent of the total (as in much of South-East Asia), the role of inmigrants from rural areas may well increase for two reasons. First, cityward migration is encouraged by wide and persistent urban-rural income disparities and rapid economic growth in the urban core. Secondly, rates of natural increase of the urban population often decline sharply as urbanization proceeds, as they have, for example, in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

What has been the post-war South-East Asian experience in this regard? Even at only moderate levels of urbanization, the natural increase of city populations has played a major role in their growth. It was responsible for 61 per cent of urban growth in Peninsular Malaysia in 1957-70 and 65-70 per cent in Indonesia in the 1960s and early 1970s, compared with 60 per cent in a sample of developing countries in the 1960s (Ogawa, 1985: Table 3; UN/ESCAP, 1981: 72 4). However, a trend towards an increased contribution of rural-urban migration to the growth of cities was observed in Indonesia in the 1970s when natural increase was responsible for only 45 per cent of growth. Over the same period, natural increase accounted for only 50 per cent of urban growth in Peninsular Malaysia and 39 per cent in Thailand, although it was as high as 60 per cent in the Philippines (Ogawa, 1985: Table 3). In the longer-sometimes much longer-term, the share of migration in urban growth will inevitably fall as the impact of any given rate of rural outmigration on urban areas, which hold an increasingly large share of the total population, will lessen.

If the l-year 'accounting' approach is replaced with a longer time perspective, however, the relationship between the three factors in urban growth becomes conceptually quite complex (Jones, 1988: 139-40; Keyfitz and Philipov, 1981). It can be argued, on the one hand, that the role of migration is larger because much of the natural increase of city populations is attributable to migrants-most of them in the young reproductive ages-from a previous period (Rogers, 1982). On the other hand, the rural 'pool' from which migrants are being drawn is constantly expanding by natural increase. A corollary of this is that a decline in the rate of natural increase in rural areas, via a decline in the crude birth-rate, has a key contribution to make over the long term in the control of urban population growth. The role of reclassification is similarly clouded; there is clearly an interdependence between the three factors contributing to urban growth which is difficult to disentangle.

So far, the discussion has focused on urban growth, not urbanization (that is, the rise in the proportion of total population living in urban areas: for definitions, see Goldstein and Sly, 1975). In very broad accounting terms, natural increase contributes to urban growth, but rarely to urbanization because rates of natural increase in the urban areas are usually below those in rural areas. Using a short-term 'accounting' perspective, urbanization is normally attributable entirely to rural-urban migration and reclassification.

Underlying Causes of Urban Growth and Urbanization

What generates rural-urban migration and hence the tempo of urbanization? It is not intended here to review the massive literature on migration in the region (Hugo, 1984; Khoo, 1984; UN/ESCAP, 1980, 1981, 1982a, 1982b). The key point to make is that both studies dealing with individual or familylevel decision-making and studies at a more aggregative level with net migratory flows (for example, Arnold and Cochrane, 1980; Pernia et al., 1983; Titus, 1978) indicate that economic factors and employment opportunities are the main reasons for migration (Gugler, 1982: 185; Rogers and Williamson, 1982: 471). Theretore, the underlying explanation for urbanization has to do with changing employment opportunities as structural change takes place in the economy.

Over the course of development, agriculture's share of total employment will not necessarily decline (Booth and Sundrum, 1984). However, in most Asian countries over the 1960s-1980s, although there have been gains in per worker agricultural productivity, these gains have been surpassed by advances in productivity elsewhere in the economy; thus, agriculture's share of total employment has been steadily declining.

Since the predominant economic activity is agricultural in rural areas and non-agricultural in urban areas, there is obviously a close relationship between the shift in the balance of economic activity from agriculture to nonagriculture, and the shift in the residential location of the population from mainly rural to a higher proportion in urban areas. The link between structural economic change and urbanization, however, is not as strong as is often imagined (Jones, 1983, 1990; UN, 1980). Even in the most traditional rural areas, some people engage in trade, construction and other nonagricultural activities, and the proportion doing so tends to increase as an economy becomes more complex. Some urban dwellers also work in agriculture, though the proportion does decline as cities increase in size and traditional rural-urban linkages are broken.

Improvements in transportation break down the association between location of job and of residence by broadening the options for people who wish to participate in the urban economy. Many are able to commute from as far as 40 or 50 kilometres away from the city, and others can move regularly between urban and rural areas, in accordance with the demands of the job market and of family responsibilities, without the need to make a permanent change in residence. Advances in transportation, by easing rural access to external markets, also broaden the options both for the kinds of small-scale production and service activities in which farm-household members might engage, and for the location of large-scale industry and other forms of economic activity. Whereas in the past, there may have been no alternative, the development of road and rail networks has made it more feasible to locate these activities away from the cities (though the choice is often the pert-urban fringe areas which are 'rural' only by definition).

Other factors encouraging such a move include the increasing cost of urban land, the diseconomies of congestion in many urban industrial areas, and educational developments, which have given rise to a better-educated rural work-force than was previously available. A cross-national regression study of factors influencing rural, nonfarm employment (Blank and Parish, 1988) has found that density of transport systems did indeed have a significant effect on rural, non-farm employment, and that it was the only factor that did so, apart from the level of economic development.

The rural labour force undergoes major modifications in occupational structure during the course of economic development (UN, 1980: Table 29). In Japan, the proportion of the rural labour force in agriculture fell from 54 to 38 per cent in just 10 years (1960-70). In other countries, the trend may not be as sharp, but the direction is the same. Off-farm employment now represents a substantial share of farm-household incomes: 60 per cent in Japan, 50 per cent in Taiwan, 40 per cent in South Korea and even 50 per cent in the least industrialized Peninsular Malaysian state of Kelantan (Jones. 1983: 24-8: Shand, 1986).

Emerging Patterns of Rural-Urban Interaction

The rising non-agricultural share of rural employment, and wide range of mobility patterns characterizing rural-urban interactions in South-East Asia, must be seen in the context of changing structural linkages between urban and rural areas-indeed the blurring of the distinction between urban and rural areas-in terms of employment structure, morphology and access to facilities (Jones, 1983: 21-8). Improvements in transportation lead to ribbon development, expanded rural-urban fringe areas and what McGee (1991) refers to as 'zones of intense rural-urban interaction'. Beyond this, 'truly' rural areas have minibus services, television, primary schools and consumer goods, which greatly modify the formerly stark rural-urban contrast.

This suggests the possibility of alternative patterns of development which do not inevitably lead to such high levels of urbanization (and therefore requirements for urban infrastructure) as Western experience suggests is inevitable. Particularly appropriate in densely settled areas, such as Java, much of the Philippines and the Red River delta in North Vietnam, may be patterns pioneered in Japan and Taiwan which link urban and rural areas very closely

and increase off-farm employment opportunities of various kinds. These may involve a more diversified range of activities at the village level or in nearby rural areas, or it may involve the possibility of moving to cities on a daily 'commuting' basis or in a regular pattern of temporary migration. One of the main preconditions for such developments is a good public transportation network.

Urban primacy and megacity issues

Primate Cities

Much of the concern with urbanization in South-East Asia has really been with the growth of the 'primate city'-Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta and others. This concern is not misplaced; the size of megacities emerging in the region will 'take us, in planning terms, far beyond anything the world has yet seen and hence into realms of great uncertainty' (Jones, 1983: 3). Moreover, many metropolitan projections may underestimate the scale of the agglomerations that are developing. As Vining (1985) has stressed, to fully capture the population trend in the region surrounding a megacity, it is necessary to set the boundary of the 'core region' rather widely. When this is done, what appears to be a decline in the metropolis' share of the total urban population may merely reflect that growth has slowed in the city proper, but is accelerating on the periphery which, in a major metropolitan region with reasonable transport systems, can be far from the city centre.

Jakarta is a good example. Between the 1980 and 1990 Population Censuses, the population of the Jakarta Special Region grew by only 2.4 per cent per annum to reach 8.2 million, a much slower rate of growth than for the overall urban population of Indonesia. But the population of the regencies of Bogor, Tanggerang and Bekasi, which surround Jakarta and constitute the extended Jakarta planning region of Jabotabek, grew by 5.2 per cent per annum. More significantly, although somewhat exaggerated by changing definitions of 'urban' between the two censuses. the urban population of these three regencies grew by a remarkable 15.9 per cent per annum. Although the growth of Jakarta proper was relatively slow, the urban population of this 'core region' grew somewhat more rapidly than Indonesia's urban population as a whole (5.9 per cent compared with 5.4 per cent).

It is accepted among regional planners that there is no 'optimal' hierarchy of city sizes, despite the normative connotations often given to the 'rank size' rule. However, it is also generally accepted that efforts should be made to divert growth from the largest cities; growth-pole strategies, secondary-city strategies and 'agropolitan' developments have all been promoted as mechanisms to achieve this end (Jones, 1991). The attempt to block big-city growth by imposition of controls (a strategy adopted for a time in Indonesia in the early 1970s) distorts natural forces and entails large social costs. The adoption of such draconian policies also fails to recognize that diseconomies of metropolitan growth, such as congestion and inflated land values, if sufficiently serious, will affect private investment decisions (Kelley and Williamson, 1984). These market-based adjustments to 'excessive' metropolitan growth should be complemented by a strategy of eliminating biases in macro and sectoral policy that unnecessarily promote the growth of large cities.

Accepting that strategies will be adopted to foster the growth of smaller rather than larger cities, the potential impact of such policies in slowing the growth of the metropolis will depend very much on the city-size hierarchy in the country concerned. If the metropolis contains a large proportion of the total urban population, and there are no other fairly large cities capable of absorbing a big absolute increase in population, then the prospect of holding back the growth of the metropolis through promoting intermediate cities is, at least in the shots teen, rather dismal. South-East Asian countries differ markedly in the degree of concentration of their urban population (Table 3.10). Whereas Indonesia and Malaysia have well-developed urban hierarchies, this is less true of the Philippines and Vietnam and not true at all of Thailand, which is frequently cited as one of the world's outstanding examples of urban primacy.

Indonesia clearly has more options than Thailand for restraining the growth of the metropolis by fostering medium- and small-city development, because of the large number and substantial size of its intermediate cities. Moreover, in 1971-80, there was no strong trend towards urban primacy. The growth rate of cities over one million was not the highest; instead, cities of 200,000500,000 grew fastest. Not only this, but towns in every size category except 10,000 20,000 experienced growth rates exceeding 4 per cent per annum (Jones, 1988: Table 4). Implications of megacity growth in Asia are discussed by Brennan and Richardson (1989) and Jones (1988: 141-4). Although planners and politicians seem to be united in their distaste for the further growth of large cities, this is by no means the unanimous view in the academic debate. Why this divergence of attitudes?

TABLE 3.10 Indices of Concentration of Urban Population in the Largest City, in South-East Asian Countries and China. 1960, 1970 and 1980


Percentage of urban population Living in Largest City

4-city Primacy Indexa

1960 1970 1980
Thailand 41b 11.49 12.96 10.22c
Malaysia (Peninsular)d 29 0.73 0.88 1.39
Philippines 33 3.23 3.44 3.44
Indonesia 20 1.17 1.34 1.34
Vietnam 34 8.97e 4.60e 1.06
China 5 n.a. n.a. 0.43

Sources: Goldstein (1985: Table 7); Hugo et al. (1987: Table 3.15): Pernia et al. (1983: Tables 2.3 3.2; Thrifl and Forbes (1985: Tables 3-5).
a The ratio of the population of the largest city to the combined population of the next three larges cities in the same country.
b Revised estimates of the urban population (Robinson and Wongbuddha. 1980) have been used which increase the total urban population and reduce Bangkok's share.
c In computing this index for 1980. widened 'urhan planning area boundaries have been used for second. third and fourth largest cities, rather than municipal boundaries. The index would be even higher if municipal boundaries were used (UN/ESCAP, 1982b: 18-24).
d The figures for Jinjang and Petaling Jaya are added to the Kuala Lumpur figure in computing the 1960 and 1970 rates; whereas the metropolitan figure is used for 1980.
e The figures are for South Vietnam alone. The figures computed for all of Vietnam. comparable lo 1980, would be 2.07 for 1960 and 2.66 for 1970. These of course have little meaning as the country was divided.
n.a. = Not available.

Part of the bias against big cities is undoubtedly a reaction by the political elite, the bureaucracy and the upper-middle class in general to the problems they face as a result of the migration of poorer rural dwellers to the urban areas-problems including congestion, crime and potential political instability. Throughout South-East Asia, election results typically show that the strongest opposition to the government in power is found in the big cities where it is difficult to control. These cities are also the focus of riots and antigovernment demonstrations when they do occur. Through the Indonesian military's 'floating mass' strategies, political expression in rural areas can be held to a minimum. The heavy gerrymander in favour of rural electorates in Malaysia effectively neutralizes the electoral strength of the opposition parties in urban areas. Further growth in the size and relative share of big cities in the total population would weaken or place these strategies themselves in jeopardy.

The opposition of urban elites to metropolitan growth fuelled by migration of the rural poor is, of course, based on self-interest and should not be unquestioningly accepted as the basis of policy. Social justice requires that the fruits of metropolitan growth, even if that growth is accelerated by distortions in macroeconomic policy, be potentially available to poor rural dwellers. The more academically, if not politically, persuasive argument against rapid metropolitan growth is that 'siphoning off' some of the metropolitan growth into smaller cities and towns would lead to more effective linkages with rural areas and assist in the modernization and development of the countryside.

In the academic debate, widely divergent viewpoints are presented. Lipton (1977) and Todaro and Stilkind (1981), see an 'urban bias' in many social and economic policies, thus, leading to excessive rural-urban migration, often to the most favoured capital city. On the other hand, Vining (1985: 30), noting the statistical association between increasing primacy and faster economic growth, argues that 'the concentration of investment in the core region, which causes the ... [cityward] migrational flow, is the most efficient route to increased production. Investment can be diverted from the core only at the cost of retarding economic growth.' In similar vein, Mera (1978: 271), a strong advocate of regional laissez-faire, states: 'There is a fundamental conflict between high economic growth and decentralization of population. If a high rate of economic growth is to be achieved, further concentration of population into a few large metropolitan areas cannot be avoided.'

Implications of Megacity Growth

This view is supported by the finding that large cities are often more efficient and innovative than other urban centres. Several writers have sought to demonstrate that there is no 'optimum' city size beyond which further growth is undesirable, basing the argument on evidence that industrial productivity is highest in the largest cities, even when allowance is made for differences in capital per worker and size of enterprise (Alonso, 1968; Richardson, 1973). Data from China support the view that the returns on investment are higher in the metropolitan areas than in small towns or in rural areas (Kim, 1990). Based on such evidence. some economists have argued that government intervention in the distribution of economic activity is likely to waste scarce capital resources and thereby slow the rate of national economic growth. Thus, in the longer term, the country will be less able to redistribute income and solve the problem of poverty (Gilbert and Gugler, 1982: 176).

Even if it is true that national economic growth would be maximized by allowing the larger metropolises to grow to vast size, planners might nevertheless appropriately opt for slower national growth if rapid urban expansion meant seriously widening regional income disparities. It has been argued, for example, that Bangkok and the Central Plain region of Thailand is like an NIE (newly industrializing economy) set within an underdeveloped country. An argument against intervention to restrict the growth of urban agglomerations, however, is based on Williamson's (1965) finding that regional income disparities tend to first increase and then decrease as a more mature economic system evolves. In support of this finding, Richardson (1977) noted strong signs of what he called 'polarization reversal' in the urban systems of South Korea, Brazil and Colombia, though Cochrane and Vining (1988: 239-42) are more agnostic about recent trends in South Korea and Taiwan.

It is probably naive to expect 'polarization reversal' to happen automatically in most developing countries. Many countries may never reach the levels of income where regional income disparities tend to narrow; in such countries, these differences are greater than those characteristic of developed countries in the past. Convergence depends on effective government intervention, but many governments show little sign of interest or competence in remedying regional inequalities (Gilbert and Gugler, 1982: 177).

There may be reason, also, to doubt the evidence for the efficiency of large cities; for example, the diseconomies of metropolitan growth (such as dry-cleaning bills and cost of long journeys to work) tend to be counted in the regional income figures which are interpreted to demonstrate high productivity in the metropolitan area. 'Agglomeration economies' may derive from better urban infrastructure or higher-quality labour, but if equivalent infrastructure or labour were available in medium-sized centres, then the productivity of these centres might well rise. Additionally, high productivity among private firms in large cities may be more apparent than real because of indirect subsidization by the state. If the firms had to bear the full cost of the externalities they impose, they might find the large city less attractive and many would transfer the higher-productivity enterprises to intermediate cities, thereby reducing the apparent differential in industrial productivity between the smaller and the larger centres (Gilbert and Gugler, 1982: 177-8; Jones, 1990: 13). Moreover, many modern industries are located in large cities because of the advantages of better-quality infrastructure, import-substitution development strategies and a 'permitridden' environment requiring location near the sources of decision-making.

Given the theme of the book, the issue of environmental sustainability of megacity growth should also be stressed. Bangkok's problems of flooding and subsidence have been widely discussed, and Jakarta's serious problems of water supply, encroaching salinity and appropriate corridors for expansion are well covered in Douglass (1988). The economists reaction to such issues- that these diseconomies will in time be reflected in the locational decisions of individuals and firms and hence lead to slackened metropolitan growth-as an argument against government intervention to influence urbanization patterns holds only if the negative externalities are felt, and felt without much time lag, by those who create them. Otherwise, substantial social costs of excessive metropolitan growth will continue to be felt over a long period by those who are powerless to influence the trends.

Levers to influence urbanization and urban structure

There is a striking contradiction between what governments say they wish to achieve in urban growth and structure, and the policies they put in place. Two general types of government policies with an urban bias have been identified. The first type includes those national economic policies which have the effect of changing relative prices in such a fashion as to shift the intersectoral terms of trade against agriculture, to widen the gap in rural-urban wage rates and to decrease investment and technological advancement in agriculture. This category includes such policies as tariffs intended to stimulate 'importsubstituting' industry, multiple exchange rates for the encouragement of industry, subsidization of urban food prices, establishment of minimum wages for industry, credit restrictions favouring urban dwellers and excessive government controls.

A common characteristic of such policies is that they are not adopted as 'urban policy' but for a variety of other reasons, yet they have powerful et~fects on urbanization; indeed, so powerful and influential that they tend to overwhelm the impact of policies specifically designed to influence urbanization and regional population redistribution (Lo and Kamal Salih, 1978: 117-18; Renaud, 1981: 101-7; W. C. Robinson, 1987). An international study focusing on mechanisms to stimulate the growth of small and intermediate urban centres found that most attention was required on 'modifying the social, economic and political forces which seem to be the major causes of existing spatial trends and not spatial mechanisms such as diverting investments to 'growth centres" or "new towns"' (Hardoy and Satterthwaite, 1986: 5-6).

In the Philippines, policies adopted during its import-substitution phase ( I 948-67) led to a heavy concentration of manufacturing industry and urban population growth in Metro Manila and its periphery. The swing towards export promotion and regional development that followed was incomplete, and failed to alter the heavy concentration of manufacturing activity in the metropolitan area (Pernia et al., 1983). Attempts to modify the locational patterns through setting up industrial estates and export processing zones had little impact.

In many countries, governments face a basic dilemma in the wish to avoid excessive metropolitan growth and yet the reluctance to permit effective decentralization. Sacrifice of too much power and control from the centre suits neither politicians nor bureaucrats, raising in some countries the spectre of political instability and in all the [need to delegate] regional planning to more poorly-trained technocrats in the regions, and [an implied] loss of power and control over resources (Jones, 1988: 144).

The second type of policy with an urban bias is the placement and availability of public services, including infrastructure (transport, electricity, water and sanitation, communication and others), military bases and services which build human capital (education and health). Some of these services require a degree of concentration in urban areas, but there is scope for giving greater consideration to regional and rural development objectives in locational decision-making. Cities such as Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta receive a much higher proportion of total investments in health and education services, electricity and piped water than their share in national population would warrant (Rondinelli, 1982). In Indonesia in 1980, 30 per cent of all households in Jakarta received piped water compared with 23 per cent in Bandung, capital of West Java, and little more than 10 per cent in other urban centres in West Java (UN/ESCAP, 1984).

Moreover, the pricing of urban services is open to question; in many large cities of the region, substantial subsidies are frequently given to social and physical services (for example, piped-water supplies, investments to ease traffic congestion) to which the poor do not have ready access. Firms and workers in larger centres are rarely taxed for the negative externalities such as the pollution and congestion they cause. 'It has been argued that governments' failure to structure prices to reflect real costs in larger urban centres has provided a strong stimulus to over-concentration of production and urban population there' (Hardoy and Satterthwaite, 1986: 374).

Thailand is an excellent example of matching performance with rhetoric. As already noted, growth-pole approaches have had little impact on diverting growth from the largest cities, nor has the policy adopted in the Fourth Plan of encouraging new industrial investment in provincial areas, and discouraging it in metropolitan Bangkok through regional differentials in tax incentives and minimum wages (Pakkasem, 1988: 27). Policies with more chances of success would be those stressing the elimination of 'metropolitan biases' in tariff structures favouring import-substitution industrialization and in other manufacturing development strategies, elimination of subsidization of rice prices for urban consumers, introduction of 'full-cost pricing' for public transport, electricity and other Bangkok services, and more generally, increasing the taxing power of the Bangkok government, and reducing the 'Bangkok bias' in the provision of higher education and other government facilities (Douglass, 1981; Krongkaew and Tonguthai, 1984; London, 1980; Tonguthai, 1987).

The interesting questions remain: To what extent is Bangkok's primacy due to geographic 'facts of life', particularly its nodal location and national port function? Would Bangkok's primacy be lessened if Thailand had a federal, rather than a unitary, form of government? Definite answers are impossible, but it could be argued that Bangkok would still display a 'high degree of primacy within Thailand, an argument that raises important issues about the limits of policy.

Provision of Urban Infrastructure and Services

A 1989 UN review of Asian megacities was based on their urban-service deficits and the programmes to address these deficits. Table 3.11 shows the findings of this study with respect to Seoul, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta. Urban-service deficits in Seoul are moderate and the programmes are relatively strong; the other cities show very severe shortfalls in housing, sewerage, transport and the environment. Problems in providing adequate infrastructure in the expanding cities of South-East Asia are immense, given budgetary constraints. According to the data, the policy response is often highly inadequate with respect to the scale of the problem; for example, Manila 'has severe [traffic] congestion and slow speeds but a very limited policy response' (Brennan and Richardson, 1989: 125).

The issues of urban management in fields including housing, water, sewerage, transportation, power, the environment, and health and social services, and the issues of urban finance related to all of these, are immense and have generated a large body of literature. Key studies containing extensive bibliographies include Bahl, Holland and Linn (1983), Lea and Courtney (1985) and Linn (1979, 1987). One important point is that the standards and approaches adopted must be those appropriate to the particular setting, not simply those borrowed without question from the West. A good example is urban housing, which, especially in slums and squatter areas, often serves multiple functions including place of production and as market-place (Laquian, 1983: 85). The 'sites and services' approach to upgrading of housing- popularized by the World Bank after some early successes in Indonesia- recognizes that improvement can be gained for modest outlays of public funds once there is some upgrading of infrastructure.

TABLE 3.11 Qualitative Assessment of Urban-service Deficits and Programmes

  Housing Water Sewer Power Health Education Transport Environment
Seoul D++ + + + + + + + ++
P+++ ++ +++ ++ ++ ++ +++ ++
Manila D++ ++ +++ + ++ + +++ ++
P++ + + ++ +++ ++ + +
D++ ++ +++ + + + +++ +++
P++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ +
Jakarta D+++ +++ +++ + +++ ++ ++ +++
P++ ++ + ++ ++ ++ ++ +


High rates of economic growth and rapid urbanization in the 1970s and 198Os in South-East Asia are expected to continue as part of the AsiaPacific Rim's move to centre stage in the world economy. This will raise major challenges in devising appropriate strategies for environmentally sustainable development over the next 15 years. The challenges will stem from a number of interrelated trends: very rapid growth in industrial production, and in the raw materials, energy and transportation required to produce and market them: growth in the number of consumers in the region, and rapid growth in their purchasing power and, hence, their demand for goods and services, including access to recreational areas; and rapid growth of cities, requiring heavy investment in infrastructure, and raising problems of checking pollution and environmental degradation.

It would be short-sighted, however, to see only the negatives in this situation. A major advantage of economic growth is that it brings with it the wherewithal to deal with environmental problems, that is, provided priority is given to this goal. A major advantage of urbanization is that it reduces the environmental pressures caused by continued population growth in rural areas, which are in some ways more intractable, and certainly more widespread, than the different set of environmental issues faced in urban areas. Economic growth and urbanization, in combination, foster declines in fertility and hence slower population growth, thus promoting a move towards the stationary population situation which must be part of the longer-term strategy for environmentally sustainable development.

Singapore. which is not a commodities producer, experienced a negative growth rate of 1.8 per cent of GDP in 1985 as regional and global demand slackened and its construction boom ended.

  1. This section is based heavily on Tyabji (1990: 37-9).
  2. This section is based heavily on Jones (1988: 4-5).
  3. Major export-oriented activities in this sector have focused on food canning and preservation, extending also to processing of vegetable oils in Malaysia and the Philippines, and sugar-refining in the Philippines and Thailand.
  4. In Indonesia, only one-third of all manufacturing employment is in firms employing 20 or more workers. In the mid-1970s, value added per worker in these firms exceeded that in smallscale and cottage industries by a factor of more than 20 (Hugo et al., 1987: Table 8. 16).
  5. Even with the revised, higher estimates for Thailand, its level of urbanization remains relatively low compared with the Phi)ippines or Indonesia, given Thailand's higher per capita income levels. Similarly, even Malaysia's adjusted estimate of urbanization remains relatively low given its advanced level of economic development: testimony, no doubt. to the heavy emphasis on rural development and land settlement in Malaysian development planning.
  6. For a detailed discussion. see Jones ( 1991).

Development problems and the environment


THE South-East Asian region in the early 1990 is entering a period during which it will experience the fastest economic growth in the entire world. This will produce enormous problems for environmental sustainability. There will be conflicting choices to be made in the allocation of resources, with serious potential for destabilization. The three preceding chapters make it clear that policy management is almost out of the control of policy makers. The present rate of development has outpaced the ability (and even the development) of policy to control it.

Four of the issues raised are being addressed by governments in the region. These are population growth, pollution, the distribution of wealth and elimination of poverty, and the fact that growth is still being driven by the use of non-renewable resources while 'renewable' resources are being utilized at an excessive rate. The latter are not being properly costed in modern-day economic policies.

This rapid growth is adding new issues to old ones. In the 1960S, the central problems were seen as 'basic needs' and labour absorption. The main problems of the 1970s and 1980S were those of structural adjustment, finding niches in the world market, financing economic growth and urbanization, the maldistribution of wealth and the reduction of poverty. New issues of sustainability now confront policy makers. They can be grouped under four dimensions:

  1. The question of scale underlies all others. Sustainable development has to be handled at scales ranging from the global, through regional, to the local. There is an urgent need for new arrangements of responsibility and jurisdiction, and new methods of resource allocation.
  2. The role of the state needs to be reassessed. Rapid economic growth, capital investment and international movements of capital, and the world-wide trend against centralized control of economics' together with a search for more democratic systems, raise serious questions about the role of the state, and even of national territoriality. Though the state remains a major driving force, the private sector now has greater effective control of the economy than do many governments, and centralgovernment control is everywhere less than it used to be, and is becoming more difficult to apply and enforce, especially in environmental matters.
  3. Technological change is of increasing significance. Previously, choices lay between intensive or extensive development and investment, but now they lie between sustainability and unsustainability. The development and application of new technologies to permit substitution of renewable for non-renewable resources is a matter of urgency. The present development paradigms are driven by economic considerations. New paradigms are required which will take into account rates of change in real per capita income, population growth, the exploitation and threatened exhaustion of non-renewable resources, and environmental degradation.
  4. Last, but not least, there are important social dimensions; in particular, attention should be paid to the needs of disadvantaged groups and national minorities, which have not normally found much place in national agendas in the past. There is increasing interest in social forces such as the rise of the middle classes, the role of women, improved interaction between urban and rural areas, and the growing assertion of minority rights. Sustainable development must cover the economic, social, environmental and political dimensions.

Where are solutions to be found? Policy makers will have to confront questions of changing lifestyles and the continued entrenchment of poverty in the region. It is important that the poor not be penalized in resolving the problems of environmental conservation. Lifestyles will have to be changed, but South-East Asia should not mimic the lifestyles of the developed countries with, for example, their massive use of motor vehicles. Neither should the developing countries bear all the burden of reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions. The burdens of change must be shared, both between rich and poor countries, and within countries between their own rich and poor. Apportioning the load will not be easy, but so it must be.

A new balance between population and resources has to be defined; it should be based on growing Ricardian scarcity, rather than 'sudden death' Malthusian models. Prices, rather than actual physical limits of resources, are the problem; therefore, a new paradigm of development will not be able to avoid the problem of relating macroeconomic and micro-economic policies in decision-making. Price distortions must be removed, so that costs can be internalized and correct allocation decisions reached by both the public and private sectors.

Three points of particular importance may be made in conclusion:

  1. The shift in the terms of trade against agriculture in developing countries has to be reversed. This is necessary in order to maximize the production of tradables, and reduce dependence on non-renewable resources. A change in the terms of trade would encourage greater emphasis on use of renewable resources. An example is the use of forest resources-presently treated as though they were nonrenewable-which should be considered renewable. South-East Asia should end its concentration on import replacement. Towards this end, price rationalization is required.
  2. Wage differentials must be reduced, and wage structures must be changed if a more rational system of production and allocation is to arise. Similarly, there need to be changes in the price of capital for small- and medium-scale enterprises.
  3. The private sector must give increased emphasis to research and development. The dominance of state finance in these areas should be corrected by adjusting price structures to promote the internalization of research and development by private enterprise at all scales. In particular, it is necessary to encourage and support research and development in the conservative use of resources.

(introductory text...)

Global economic development: energy and minerals
Environment and resource attributes of south-east Asia
Energy and mineral demand in the Asia-pacific region
Assessing environmental costs
Non-conventional and alternative energy and minerals
Economic development, environment and the future
Summary and conclusions
Editorial comment



ECONOMIC growth rates in the Asia-Pacific region during the 1980s and continuing into the 1990s-led by the 'four tigers' (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been substantially above those of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations and the remainder of the world (Table 4.1). Similarly, population growth rates within the region in general, and the nations of South-East Asia specifically, have been significantly above the world average. Both the trends of economic growth and increasing population growth are projected to continue into the twenty-first century. Central to meeting the demands of continued economic growth and the needs of this constantly increasing population is an expanding supply of energy and minerals.

TABLE 4.1 Population and GDP Growth Rates, 1975-19R9 (per cent)

Country Population Growth Rate

GDP Growth Rates

1980 - 5a 1975 - 9 1980 - 5 1986 - 9
Hong Kong 1.8 10.2 6.5 8.9
Indonesia 1.6 6.9 5.6 5.5
South Korea 1.4 9.6 6.7 10.5
Malaysia 2.2 7.2 5.6 5.7
Papua New Guinea 2.5 0.4 0.3 3.0
Philippines 2.3 6.4 0.5 4.6
Singapore 1.2 7.4 6.8 7.9
Taiwan 1.9 10.3 6.8 9.8
Thailand 1.7 8.5 5.5 8.9
Asia-Pacificb 1.8 6,1c 6.6 7.4d
OECD 0.7 3.1 2.2 3.7
World 1.7 3.5 2.6 3.4

Source: ADB (1989b).
a ADB ( 1989a).
b Developing member countries of the Asian Development Bank.
c Average for 1970-9.
d Average for 1986-8.

Development models, different from those of the OECD countries, exist and have been successful, often with lower energy and mineral consumption and with less environmental impact. Therefore, although it can be, and is, debated whether the developing nations of South-East Asia need to replicate the development stages of the OECD nations, available data indicate that they are doing so, particularly with respect to ever-increasing energy and mineral demand. Several factors may impact and retard these needs: declining rates of economic and population growth, conservation, substitution, increased efficiency of use and alternative development paths. However, they will have the principal effect of lengthening the time frame of energy and mineral consumption and development. Over the long term, they will not decrease total demand in the nations of South-East Asia.

Alternatively, some authors have proposed (for example, Trainer, 1990) that totally different economic development paths should be followed or that 'no growth' or 'reduced growth' development should be considered. From many, but not all, nations' perspectives, none of these alternatives is either acceptable or appropriate; although, in most nations, more efficient growth is obviously desirable. The need for continued strong economic growth is particularly important in that population, poverty and development are linked, and only through continued and increasing economic development can a growing population escape the burden of poverty. Within this broader linkage are the interrelationships of economic development with increased energy and mineral use, and consequently an association with a growing intensity of environmental degradation.

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to clarify the use of the term 'environment' in this chapter. Herein, 'environment' refers only to the physical environment of air, land and water. The impact of energy and mineral development and use on social and cultural systems is recognized, but is beyond the scope of the present chapter, as are biological and botanical impacts.

To begin with, a global overview of the interrelationships of economic growth, energy and mineral demand and environmental impacts is provided. This is followed by a brief analysis of the more obvious aspects of the resources and environment of the nations of South-East Asia in order to provide a framework which encompasses the impacts and alternatives available. Subsequently, the present and projected rates of energy and mineral demand and development are discussed, as are the associated environmental impacts (nationally, regionally and globally) and economic costs. The chapter concludes with an assessment of alternative sources and policies and options that may mitigate the environmental impacts of increased economic growth and energy and mineral demand and development.

Global economic development: energy and minerals

The close universal relationship between economic and population growth, and energy and mineral demand is shown in Figure 4.1 and Table 4.2. Similar relations exist for energy use per capita and mineral demand as a function of gross domestic product (GDP). Although these data clearly show that a strong correlation exists, studies by Clark and Jeon (1989), Drucker (1986), Labys and Waddell (1989), Larson, Ross and Williams (1986) and Tilton (1988) have demonstrated that the intensity of energy and mineral use (quantity consumed per unit of output) varies with the stage of development of the nation and for individual commodities.

Different commodities are used by countries at different stages of development (Table 4.3). It can be seen that 'old' energy and mineral commodities are those most commonly consumed during initial development when principal uses are for industrial development and infrastructure. 'Young' commodities are associated with a combination of industrial development, specialized demand and economic diversification. 'New' commodities are those related to highly specialized demand, broad economic diversification and strong technological development.

FIGURE 4.1 Energy Consumption as a Function of Gross Domestic Product, 1973-1987 (all scales logarithmic)

TABLE 4.2 Metal Use Per Capita, Total World, 1971-2000

Metal/Mineral Unit of Measurement 1971-85 1985 2000a Percentage Increase 1971-2000
Crude steel (kg) 166.9 182.3 204.6 18
Iron ore (kg) 112.2 126.4 144.4 22
Nickel (g) 161.0 184.0 206.0 22
Manganese ore (kg) 5.3 6.1 7.6 30
Chrome ore (kg) 1.8 2.1 2.5 28
Cobalt (g) 6.1 7.4 8.9 31
Tungsten (g) 10.4 12.2 14.6 28
Refined copper (kg) 2.1 2.3 2.7 22
Primary aluminium (kg) 3.2 4.2 5.7 40
Platinum (tr. oz/1,000) 1.4 1.8 2.2 36
Zinc (kg) 1.4 1.7 1.9 26
Tin (g) 60.4 61.2 61.7 2
World population (millions) 3,848b 4,915 6.358 39

Source Modified from Malenbaum (1978).
a Estimated.
b Average.

Nations experience an increase in energy and mineral demand during the economic transition from less developed country (LDC) through newly industrializing country (NIC) to a mature developed country (MDC) (Figure 4.2). Having reached mature development status, however, the intensity of use decreases; although overall demand may continue to increase. This dichotomy occurs because continued population growth requires that more energy and minerals be provided for more people, although the rate of growth has slowed. Therefore, it is the rate of demand, not total demand, that decreases during a nation's developed stage. As the nations of South-East Asia are all LDCs or NlCs, they can be expected to continue experiencing high rates of growth in energy and mineral demand; particularly for the 'old' and 'young' commodity categories.

TABLE 4.3 Age of Energy and Mineral Commodities in Development Life Cycles


Commodity Age

Category Old Young New
Minerals base metals nickel aluminium
copper chromium rare earths
zinc manganese platinum
tin cobalt  
Energy wood oil nuclear
coal gas petrochemicals

FIGURE 4.2 Theoretical Life-cycle Curve of Energy and Mineral Consumation for Groups of Countries

The preceding analysis of global demand through the life cycles of metals and national development. Iinking economic and population growth with increased demand for energy and minerals, leads to the clear conclusion that energy and mineral use in the AsiaPacific region will continue and, most likely, expand as economic development takes place. Similarly, one must conclude that this increased energy and mineral use and development will bring with it an exacerbation of existing environmental problems and create new and perhaps larger ones in the future.

Energy, Minerals and the Global Environment

Increasing demand for energy and minerals to sustain and support growth of the world economy is accompanied by environmental impacts. An analysis by Holdren ( 1990) clearly demonstrates, in terms of the world's atmosphere, the link between environmental impacts and increasing energy and mineral utilization (Table 4.4). Energy production and consumption are together the largest contributors to environmental disruption. In addition, energy production contributes a significant amount of metal waste to the environment. Two additional factors can be identified. First, energy utilization is the major producer of greenhouse gases which affect the global climate. Secondly, mineralrelated activities are the greatest producers of metals. Energy and mineral production and use are therefore the components of economic development which can wreak the greatest environmental damage.

TABLE 4.4 A Framework for Analysis of Environmental Impacts



Share of Human Disruption Caused by


Lead flow 25,000
63% fossil-fuel burning,including additives Small Small 37% metal processing,manufacturing, refuse
Oil flow
to oceans
10.0 60% oil harvesting,
production,processing, transport
Small Small 40% disposal of oil waste
13% fossil-fuel
traditional burning
5% burning
70% metals processing,manufacturing,refuse
50 million
1.4 85% fossil-fuel
0.5% burning
1% agricultural
burning fuels
13% smelting, refuse
800 parts
per billion
1.1 18% fossil-fuel
traditional harvesting and processing
5% burying
paddies, domestic
65% rice
animals, land
0.7 20% fossil-fuel
1% burning
traditional fuels
2% agricultural
77% metal processing,
manufacturing, refuse
10 million
0.4 12% fossil-fuel
8% burning
traditional fuels
80% fertilizer,
land clearing,
500 million
0.25 35% fossil-fuel
10% burning
40% agricultural
burning, wheat
15% smelting, non
agricultural land clearing,
refuse burning
CO2 stock 280 parts
per million
0.25 75% fossil-fuel
3% net
for fuelwood
15% net
for land
7% net deforestation for
lumber, cement and

It must be stressed that the data in Table 4.4 represent levels of annual contributions in the late 1980s. For most components, these levels will increase with economic development and perhaps at higher rates as present sources of energy and minerals are depleted. In the future, expanding rates of demand will require that lower-quality deposits be developed and utilized, resulting in the movement of larger quantities of material, increased processing and longer transport distances, all of which will substantially add to environmental disruption. In addition, it should not be overlooked that demand, particularly in the conversion and use stage, is highly energy-intensive, which will further increase demand. Equally if not more important is the need to recognize the growing magnitude of effluents from these activities, a by-product which must also be accommodated.

From a global perspective, there is a need, perhaps even an immediate need, for all nations to address the issues of economic development, mineral and energy demand and environmental impacts. The Asia-Pacific region, in general, and the rapidly developing nations of South-East Asia, in particular. are obviously Important components of this global system and, as such, must review their development, and its impact on the environment at both a national and global level-now and more so in the future. It is these issues of economic development, energy and mineral demand and environmental impacts in the Asia-Pacitic region, and South-East Asia specifically, which constitute the remainder of this chapter. However, all such issues ultimately must be viewed in the context of a global partnership.

Environment and resource attributes of south-east Asia

There are a number of basic attributes of the nations of South-East Asia which affect the scope and distribution of environmental impacts. First, most are archipelagos or have extensive shorelines. As such, environmental impacts have not only an on-land component but also an offshore effect. Indeed, many activities (oil and gas and mineralsand developments) are undertaken offshore. In both cases. there is a transfer of the environmental problem into the ocean environment where effects may be broader.

Secondly, new energy and mineral developments are taking place in two main areas, that is, in remote regions where the environment is virtually undisturbed and/or in and around densely populated urban centres where environmental problems are already serious. In the former case, environmental impacts are highly visible but, initially, hopefully less damaging because of reduced pollution from newer facilities and the higher absorptive capacity of the hitherto little-disturbed environment. In the latter case, the effects may be less visible, but are potentially more damaging as they add to an already-stressed system. Thirdly, the archipelagic nature of the region leads to many difficulties in communications which assume considerable importance in developing national environmental policies.

The above factors have added significance when considered in the context that energy and mineral resources have several characteristics which dictate where, how and when they may be developed and utilized. Among the most significant are:

  1. World-wide-regionally or nationally-energy and mineral resources are not uniformly distributed in terms of quantity or quality. Therefore, their development will be concentrated in some areas and absent within others; as will be the economic and environmental impacts of development and exploitation.
  2. The location of energy and mineral resources dictates how they will be developed and exploited; for example, large deposits of coal, copper and phosphate are economically recoverable only by large-scale, open-pit mining. Similarly, big offshore deposits of oil and gas require substantial drilling and production facilities. In both cases, the environmental consequences of development are substantial, as are the economic benefits.
  3. Large amounts of energy are required for production in these industries. Developments are, therefore, often juxtaposed so that each industry has access to sources of supply of the other's product. Clearly, this is more true of energy sources for the mining industry, but the great petrochemical complexes of the world are also major consumers of metals and minerals.
  4. Past discoveries and subsequent use of domestic supplies have resulted in present and, by extrapolation, future exploration, development and exploitation of energy and minerals shifting to less developed nations such as those in South-East Asia. Similarly, the most easily recoverable deposits, particularly in the developed nations, have already been discovered, meaning that present and future exploration is concentrated in 'frontier areas'. These 'frontier areas' are often remote and inaccessible, with little previous environmental impact. They require massive infrastructural development and tend to result in large projects, needing substantial expenditures to prevent or mitigate environmental impacts.

Plainly, economic growth based on increased energy and mineral development carries with it both high economic and environmental costs. The nature of the resources, however, dictates that development must take place where the resources occur. Given this fact, the issues of sustainable environmental quality and sustainable economic development-to a considerable extent, a challenge of trade-offs and compromises-must be balanced.

Energy and mineral demand in the Asia-pacific region

Energy Demand

The strong link between economic growth and increasing demand for energy, both historical and current, is a trend which is expected to continue into the future with far-reaching national, regional and global environmental implications. An analysis of the structure of present energy demand for the Asia-Pacific region projected to the year 2000 has been undertaken by Fesharaki and Yamaguchi (1991). There are several important aspects of this demand in the year 2000 (Table 4.5). In particular, the share of oil in the energy mix will decrease from 47 per cent to as low as 37 per cent, depending on price; the major increase in energy share will be in utilization of gas; and coal use will remain fairly constant or decline slightly.

Although the data indicate that the energy-demand structure will change significantly by the turn of the century, it must be stressed that absolute energy demand will increase significantly (Figure 4.3). The rising percentage of gas in the energy mix merely means that gas demand will grow even faster than that for oil. Overall, this has several important implications for both economic development and the environment in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically the nations of South-East Asia.

First, the declining share of oil in the energy mix is largely attributable to reduced reserves and production in the region, much of which is a lowsulphur crude. Increasing reliance on imported oil in the region will be for high-sulphur crudes from the Middle East. Refining and processing of highersulphur stocks may well produce more harmful emissions, in particular sulphuric oxides (SOx). Similarly, such crudes will generate larger quantities of solid wastes.

TABLE 4.5 Asia-Pacific Energy-demand Structure, 1988 and 2000 (per cent)

Source 1988


1b 2c
Oil 47 42 37
Gas 10 16 17
Coal 31 26 29
Hydropower 6 7 7
Nuclear 6 9 10
Totala 100 100 100

Source: Fesharaki and Yamaguchi (1991).
a Excludes China.
b Low-price scenario of $23/barrel in the year 2000.
c High-price scenario of $35/barrel in the year 2000.

Secondly, the increased use of natural gas is perhaps a mixed blessing for the environment and the economy. Being in relatively abundant supply and at a reasonable price, natural-gas utilization can expand with marginal impact on economic growth, although large costs for conversion and new systems will be required. Similarly, processing emissions will be significantly lower in SOX and carbon dioxide (CO:), than comparable processing of oil. Natural gas releases approximately 14 kilograms of CO2 per billion joules while oil releases approximately 20 kilograms, and coal almost twice as much with 24 kilograms per billion joules.

Thirdly, although the percentage of coal in the energy mix is expected to decline slightly, it must be remembered that the absolute demand for coal will rise significantly. The result will be a continued increase in the amount required within the region. A study by Foell and Green ( 1990) shows projected emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous oxides (NOX) (Table 4.6) for coal utilization in South-East Asian nations as between 8 and 10 per cent of the Asia-Pacific total. Although significant, such levels are small compared to those of China (as an example), where emission rates are approximately 60 per cent of the Asia-Pacific total.

Energy use to sustain the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region is the highest in the world and is expected to continue well into the twenty-first century. A major environmental impact of expanded energy utilization will be the production of greenhouse gases with effects in terms of global warming, acid rain and the global hydrological cycle.

FIGURE 4.3 Increase in Oil Demand in the Asia-Pacific Region, 1987-1995

TABLE 4.6 SO2 and NOx Emissions from Coal Utilization in South-East Asia, 1986, 2000 and 2010 (million tonnes)




  1986a (Actual) 2000b (Projected) 2010b (Projected) 1986a (Actual) 2000b (Projected) 2010b (Projected)
Indonesia 0.780 1.850 3.184 0.712 1.701 2.359
Malaysia 0.298 0.441 0.753 0.296 0.582 0.741
Philippines 0.403 0.815 1.339 0.202 0.438 0.734
Singapore 0.061 0.107 0.151 0.166 0.252 0.338
Thailand 0.627 2.616 2.999 0.495 1.508 3.523
Total 2.169 5.829 8.426 1.871 4.481 7.875
Asia-Pacific total 28.155 52.904 76.167 14.216 28.677 44.249

Source: Modified from Foell and Green (1990).
a Actual figures.
b Projected on base-case scenario.

TABLE 4.7 Metal Consumption Forecasts for South-East Asian Countries. 1987 and 2000 (metric tons)







County/Region 1987 2000 1987 2000 1987 2000 1987 2000 1987 2000
Indonesia 68 181 33 101 56 - - 48 211  
Philippines 11 63 10 26 15 39 - - 23 46
Malaysia 27 120 19 47 23 98 - - 16 57
Thailand 54 165 26 71 24 87 0.5 2.1 49 108
Asia-Pacific 4 236 12 873 2 671 5 420 1 090 1 783 204 581 1 833 3 605
World 17 201 30 359 10426 14 504 5 623 7 796 847 1 246 6 862 10 387

Mineral Demand

As with energy, the demand for most metals in the region is growing rapidly, driven not only by increased use within individual nations but also because many nations of South-East Asia are major producers for the world market. It must be noted that in both cases, the environmental costs attendant on production and processing are large.

In the fast-developing nations of South-East Asia, demand for selected commodities will increase on an average of two to three times from 1987 to the year 2000. The demand by most countries for 'new' metals, such as aluminium, will be high because of their positions relative to the life cycle of metals and the stage of development of most South-East Asian nations, discussed earlier (Clark and Jeon, 1989) (see Table 4.3; Figure 4.2). Similarly, the demand for 'young' metals, such as nickel, will be low as most nations' development cycles for such commodities is just beginning (Table 4.7). To meet this increasing demand for metals in the region, over 80 new mineral developments and/or expansion of facilities have been planned, proposed or are presently under way, with a total capital investment in excess of $20 billion.

Assessing environmental costs

Perhaps not surprisingly, the field of environmental economics is rapidly expanding, both in its scope and with respect to the determination of real economic costs associated with resource development and usage. One of the most significant areas of research in the 1990s is the definition of direct (internalized) and indirect (externalized) environmental costs.

Direct environmental costs are the easiest to define, although in many instances these are associated with new or future technologies and are more difficult to quantify. In general, however, they can be divided into five main areas:

  1. Assessment costs are direct costs incurred in defining the anticipated environmental impacts of an individual project or activity. Normally, this would include base-line studies, environmental impact analyses and the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
  2. Prevention costs are direct costs incurred in operations which prevent environmental impacts. These include such items as tailings dams for mining operations and safety-valves on offshore drilling platforms.
  3. Mitigation costs, the largest of the direct costs, are those for mitigation of environmental impacts. Unlike assessment and prevention costs, which are primarily associated with new projects, mitigation costs are incurred by both new and existing facilities or activities. Common to both energy and mineral use are gaseous emission controls and effluent/discharge controls.
  4. Reclamation costs are direct costs incurred in returning the site of activity, and surrounding affected areas, to a state 'agreed upon' by those controlling and those exploiting the resource, that is, approximating that existing prior to exploitation. Such direct costs may be incremental through the life of the project or occur as an assessed cost at the end of the project.
  5. Compensation costs are direct costs assessed as compensation to affected parties or costs assessed for irrecoverable damage to the environment. Often such costs are as a result of civil or criminal litigation under existing protective legislation.

In dealing with direct environmental costs, a general rule is that all except compensation (1-4) are defined primarily as a charge for new and/or ongoing projects. However, mitigation and reclamation costs (3 and 4) are often assumed at the state/provincial/national levels for environmental protection, or restoration of areas where past energy and mineral activities have been carried out. The US 'Superfund' is perhaps the largest example of reclamation-compensation costs undertaken by the government subsequent to energy and mineral operations. Particularly for the developing nations of South-East Asia, assessment, prevention, mitigation and reclamation costs (1-4) should always be included in energy and mineral developments now and in the future in order to avoid massive deferred costs for reclamation (4) and compensation (5) once energy and mineral activities in specific areas have ceased operation.

Despite uncertainty about selection, cost and time frames of technologies to meet present and future environmental policies and standards, the direct costs can be clearly defined and the impact of the economic costs on the industry and national economy evaluated. Such is not the case with respect to indirect environmental costs which are in many instances unknown, and are difficult to measure and integrate into overall economic evaluation and planning.

What is clear, however, is that indirect environmental costs are not represented in the standard measures of economic growth such as gross national product (GNP) or GDP or per capita consumption. These deficiencies in accounting for indirect environmental costs are particularly critical when viewed in the context of sustainable economic development as measured by GDP. Specifically, this approach fails to recognize the depletion of national resources, in particular energy, minerals and the environmental components of water, air, soil and habitat; the exclusion of environmental damage/ degradation but the inclusion of direct environmental costs such as reclamation in national accounts, further distorting the national economic profile; and the association of indirect environmental costs with the lack of conservation and efficiency in resource utilization, requiring greater resource development and associated environmental degradation, are large and hidden costs in the economy of most nations.

A study by the World Resources Institute focused on the impact of indirect environmental costs by computing an environmentally adjusted net domestic product (NDP) and net income (Nl). In an analysis including depreciation for oil, timber and topsoil in Indonesia, they found that the growth rate of the NDP for 1971-84 was only 4 per cent, compared to an official GDP growth rate of 7.1 per cent. Although the actual values for NDP might be calculated in several ways, and undoubtedly would produce different growth rates, the important issue is that adjusting economic growth indicators for indirect environmental costs produces a significantly reduced rate of growth. When viewed in the context of sustainable economic development versus energy and mineral consumption, the conclusion seems inescapable: the efficiency of resource utilization in economic growth is much lower than previously predicted when indirect environmental costs are considered.

TABLE 4.8 Environmental Impacts and Relative Costs of Offshore Oil and Gas Development

Type of Development and Consequence Relaticea Impact Areab of Impact Controlc Casts
Small-scale impact on sediments and sedimentation M VL -
Small-scale disruption of benthic and pelagic organisms M VL -
Alteration of nearshore drainage M L I
Seismic disruption M L -
Local release of drilling fluids/muds M L I
Oil spillage (accidental or operational) M L I
Onshore staging area impacts M L I
Bottom and sub-bottom sediment disturbances S L 2
Local release of drilling fluids/muds S L 2
Oil spillage (accidental or operational) S P 2
Gaseous emissions M P 2
Increased disruption of benthic and pelagic organisms S L 2
Modified current and sedimentation patterns M L 2-3
Visual and aesthetic effects S L  
Extensive offshore or onshore disruption for storage and handling S L 2
Oil spillage (accidental or operational) H P-R 3-5
Micro-seismic events S P 2-3
Groundwater/oceanic water pollution from      
recovery activities or natural effects H P-R 4-5
Surface disruption and modification S L 3
Gaseous emissions (COx. SOx. NOx. particulates) H R 5
Effluent emissions H P 4 5
Residual wastes S L-P 4 5
Spillage (accidental or operational) S L P 4
Surface and groundwater contamination S P 3
Visual and aesthetic effects S L 3
Transport (pre- or post-processing)  
Surface disruption and modification (pipeline) S P-R 3
Spillage/leakage H P-R 4-5

a Qualilative estimate of the scope and permanency of the impact.
M = Minor
S = Significant
H = High
b Qualitative estimate of the areal extent of the impact. VL = Very local, that is, confined largely to site of occurrence.
L = Local, that is confined largely to immediate area of site of occurrence.
P = Provincial, confined to broad surrounding area bounded by primary dispersal controls.
R = Regional, broad distribution resulting from primary and secondary dispersal.
c Associated costs of environmental impact, mitigation or prevention for medium- to large-scale mining activities (does not include annual upkeep costs).
1. $0 - 250.000.
2. $250.000 - 1 .000.000.
3. $ 1.000.000 - 10.000.000
4. $10.000.000 50.000.000
5. $50.000.000 or more.

As stated earlier, measuring indirect environmental costs is, at best, difficult in most instances due primarily to a lack of base-line data against which to measure impacts, the uncertainty surrounding the interactions within the environment in terms of cause and effect, and the long time frames within which environmental impacts occur and total impact can be assessed. That indirect environmental costs are significant is easily substantiated; however, the associated actual costs are much more difficult to ascertain. The assessment of indirect environmental costs, and their impact on economic development, is a new and challenging frontier of research and quantification.

Direct Environmental Impacts and Costs. Energy and Minerals

In any assessment of environmental impacts and costs, the rapidly increasing rate, scale and complexity of interactions associated with development, population, and energy and mineral development and usage present an almost limitless number of effects. It is not possible in this short overview to delimit environmental impacts and costs except in the most general terms; this is, however, sufficient to demonstrate that even at a summary level, both impacts and associated mitigation or prevention costs are high. For both energy and mineral activities, they occur throughout the cycle of exploration, development, extraction, beneficiation, processing and transportation. In general, it can be said that scale and complexity increase in the downstream industries of beneficiation and processing as do the associated costs of mitigation and prevention.

Energy development (oil and gas), world-wide and within South-East Asia specifically, occurs both onshore and offshore with somewhat differing environmental impacts (Tables 4.8 and 4.9), although costs are similar for both types of operations. As discussed earlier, Asia-Pacific countries are expected to invest $27-29 billion in refining and petrochemical processing during the 1990s. If this investment takes place and only 510 per cent of the total is for environmental controls, then a conservative estimate of direct environmental costs would be approximately $2 billion for the refining and processing industries during the 1990s alone.

TABLE 4.9 Environmental Impacts and Relative Costs of Onshore Oil and Gas Development

Type of Development and Consequence Relativea Impact Areab of Impact Controlc Costs
Small-scale vegetation and surface disruption (access) M L I
Minor erosion and sediment loading of streams and lakes M L I
Wildlife disturbance S L I
Visual end aesthetic impacts M L I
Seismic disruption M L -
Local release of drilling fluids/muds M VL I
Groundwater pollution M VL I
Extensive vegetation and surface disruption (access, infrastructure) S L 2
Release of drilling fluids/muds S L I
Increased groundwater pollution M L 2
Oil spillage (accidental or operational) S S 2
Gaseous emissions S S 2
Visual end aesthetic impacts S S 2
Extensive vegetation and surface disruption (infrastructure) S S 3
Oil spillage (accidental or operational) S H 4
Micro-seismic events S H 4
Modification and/or contamination of surface and groundwater S-H S 3
Visual aesthetic impacts S H 3
Surface disruption and modification S L 3
Gaseous emissions (COx, SOx, NOx. particulates) H R 5
Effluent emissions H P 4 5
Residual wastes S L-P 4-5
Spillage (accidental or operational) S L-P 4
Surface and groundwater contamination S P 3
Visual and aesthetic effects S L 3
Transport (pre- or post-processing)  
Surface disruption and modification (pipeline) S P-R 3
Spillage/leakage (accidental or operational) H P-R 4-5

a Qualitative estimate of the scope and permanency of the impact.
M = Minor
S = Significant
H = High
b Qualitative estimate of the areal extent of the impact.
VL = Very local, that is, confined largely to site of occurrence.
L = Local, that is, confined largely to immediate area of site of occurrence.
P = Provincial, confined to broad surrounding area bounded by primary dispersal controls.
R = Regional, broad distribution resulting from primary and secondary dispersal.
c Associated costs of environmental impact, mitigation or prevention for medium-to large-scale mining activities (does not include annual upkeep costs).
1. $0 - 250,000,
2. $250,000 - 1,000,000.
3. $1,000,000-10,000,000.
4. $10,000,000-50,000,000.
5. $50,000,000 or more.

Conversely, with the mineral industry (including coal) the environmental impacts are principally on land, although specific activities such as tin mining/dredging are major offshore mining activities. Also, unlike the oil and gas industries, the very nature of mineral extraction, beneficiation and processing results in large and highly visible environmental impacts; for example, in the oil and gas industry, over 95 per cent of the extracted resource is utilized; in the coal industry, it is only 55-65 per cent; and in the mineral industry, less than 10 per cent. As a result, large quantities of waste rock, low-grade ores, tailings and slag must be stored and/or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. This need to handle and store large quantities of extracted material significantly increases the environmental impacts and costs of mining (Table 4.10).

As with energy, the expenditure on mineral development in the AsiaPacific region is anticipated to be $20 22 billion during the 1990s. Based on estimates in other areas, ranging from 5 to 23 per cent of total miningproject costs, the direct environmental costs incurred (assuming a conservative 10 per cent) will be $2-2.2 billion for mineral developments alone during the 1990s. Clearly, these could be significantly higher within the region if existing environmental policies and regulations are made more stringent.

As the scope and timing of energy and mineral development in the AsiaPacific region in general, and the nations of South-East Asia specifically, depend on numerous externalities (discoveries, economic growth, demand), the exact direct environmental impacts and costs are uncertain. It is certain, however, that they will occur and they will be sufficiently high to have an impact on economic development and the environmental quality of the countries of South-East Asia. If the costs, economic and environmental, are judged to be too high, development will be retarded; conversely, if they are essentially balanced, then development will take place. There will have to be trade-offs of multiple objectives, yet they must be made if sustainable economic development is to take place.

TABLE 4.10 Environmental Impacts and Relative Costs of Mineral Development (Including Coal)

Type of Development and Consequence Relativea Impact Areab of Impact Controlc Costs
Small-scale vegetation and surface disruption M VL 1
Minor erosion and sediment loading of streams and lakes M VL 1
Wildlife disturbance S L 2
Visual and aesthetic impacts M VL 1
Noise M L 1
Local release of drilling fluids M VL 1
Extensive vegetation and surface disruption (access, infrastructure and mine site) S P 2
Increased erosion and sediment loading of streams and lakes M L 2
Contamination of surface and groundwater M L 2
Waste soil/rock storage and/orredistribution M VL 3
Wildlife disturbance H L 2
Significant visual and aesthetic impacts S L 2
Noise S L 2
Reduced air qualify (dust) M L 2
Large-scale surface disruption and modification H L 3-4
Erosion and sediment loading of streams and lakes S P 3
Physical and chemical alteration of surface and groundwater qualify and occurrence S L-P 3-4
Mobilization and storage of low-grade and waste rock S VL 3-5
Reduced air quality (dust. gases, equipment emissions) S L 2
Natural leaching of low-grade and waste rock piles M L 2
Visual and aesthetic impacts H L 3
Land subsidence (underground mines) M-S VL 4
Surface disruption and modifications H VL 3
Chemical alteration of surface and groundwater S L-P 4
Air quality (dust, chemical emissions) S P-R 5
Tailings disposal (associated seepage) S L 5
Hazardous waste (chemical effluents) S R 4
Visual and aesthetic impacts H L 3
Noise H 1 3
Surface disruption and modification H L 3
Tailings/slag disposal H L 4-5
Waste wafer disposal S P 3-4
Smelter emissions (vex' NO`, particulates) H R 5
Hazardous waste H P 4-5
Chemical alteration of surface and groundwater S R 4
Visual and aesthetic effects H L 3
Noise S L 3

a Qualitative estimate of the scope and permanency of the impact.
M = Minor.
S = Significant.
H = High
b Qualitative estimate of the areal extent of the impacct
VL = Very local. that is, confined largely to site of occurrence.
L = Local, that is confined largely to immediate area of site of occurrence.
P = Provincial confined to broad surrounding area hounded by primary dispersal controls.
R = Regional, broad distribution resulting from primary and secondary dispersal.
c Associated costs of environmental impact, mitigation or prevention for medium- to large-scale mining activities (does not include annual upkeep costs).
1. $0 - 250,000,
2. $250,000 - 1,000,000.
3. $1,000,000 - 10,000,000.
4. $10,000,000 - 50,000,000.
5. $50,000,000 or more.

Indirect Environmental Costs: Energy and Minerals

Indirect environmental costs for energy and mineral development and use are significant in the context of national accounting. They are perhaps more critical in connection with sustainable development of a nation, even though the actual monetary cost may be difficult to ascertain. The principal reasons for this importance are:

  1. Energy and mineral development and usage is an irreversible process in which, for all intents and purposes, the resources are utilized and lost to future generations.
  2. Although some nations have followed the 'get dirty and clean up' development path, it is doubtful that such a course will succeed for most. The result is that energy and mineral development, may well exceed the ability of the environment to absorb such impacts without permanent disruption. The loss of these attributes impacts on future generations.
  3. Pollution transfer is the logical extension of exhausting national energy and mineral resources, as such commodities have to be sought elsewhere. Indeed, a common allegation is that the developed world is transferring its pollution to the developing world, both literally and figuratively. In some cases, this may indeed be a deliberate policy, but in most cases, it is a matter of availability of resources and economics which, de facto, results in the pollution transfer. Regardless of the reasons, globalization of the energy and mineral industries has further spread pollution and environmental impacts internationally. This is and will be the inheritance of future generations; a high indirect environmental cost now, but a major direct cost for the future.
  4. Perhaps the highest environmental cost is yet to be extracted, that is, in global climatic change. From the perspective of the early 1990s, it represents the ultimate indirect cost; for example, estimates for reducing greenhouse emissions by achieving a world-wide 35 per cent efficiency in converting coal to electric power would require $400 million per year until 2050 (Torrens, 1991). At present, such costs are indirect and largely unaccounted for in national accounts.

Overall, the nations of the world, including those of South-East Asia, are utilizing their energy and mineral resources, and those of their neighbours, at an ever-increasing rate of consumption and at high levels of indirect environmental cost.

Non-conventional and alternative energy and minerals

Thus far, the discussion has focused primarily on conventional energy and minerals as the material base for economic development within the nations of South-East Asia. However. it is recognized that there are non-conventional or alternative sources of supply which will undoubtedly play an increasing role in development as growth proceeds. Virtually none of these latter sources, however, should be viewed as being free of environmental impacts; in fact, they may, in some cases, have significantly greater effect on the environment. From an energy perspective, the alternatives range from nuclear power through geothermal and biomass energy to solar, wind, tidal and hydropower. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss each in detail. However, some general comments can be made about the importance of these alternative energy sources in the energy mix within the region and with respect to their environmental impacts.

A re-examination of Table 4.5 which shows the structure of Asia-Pacific energy demand (Fesharaki and Yamaguchi, 1991) reveals that, within the region, nuclear power will grow slowly from 6 per cent in 1988 to perhaps 10 per cent by the year 2000. No nuclear power production is anticipated for Indonesia, China or the Philippines, and further expansion in nations with existing nuclear capability will be limited primarily to nuclear-power plants presently under construction or firmly planned in nations such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Even in the latter countries, proposed plans face strong environmental opposition, and Japan has already postponed construction of plants that would have produced up to 10,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity. The environmental opposition has been strengthened by events at Three Mile Island in the United States and, more recently, Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, and by persistent small 'episodes' in plants world-wide. This opposition, coupled with the problem of nuclear-waste disposal, other associated environmental impacts and rapidly rising costs of construction, makes the nuclear option extremely doubtful for the Asia-Pacific region and for the nations of South-East Asia specifically.

Similarly, unless major but doubtful plans are implemented, the development of hydropower and other alternative power sources is anticipated to increase only marginally from 6 to 7 per cent by the year 2000 (see Table 4.5). Notwithstanding the successes of hydropower throughout the region, and geothermal and biomass energy in Indonesia and the Philippines, the role of alternative energy is anticipated to be small because of the relatively high costs of alternative solar and wind energy generation, the limited availability of geothermal sources, the limited efficiency of biomass for large-scale production of energy, and the relative cost and difficulties with developing efficient tidal power. Although the major constraints in the early 1990s are economic and technological, it is also true that significant advances in reducing costs and developing the required technologies are being made. With such advances, these alternative energy sources may play a large role in the energy mix of the region in the future.

Although alternative power sources are not without their environmental impacts and costs, in most instances, they may be less than those associated with conventional energy. Conversely, the large areas affected by hydrodevelopment, the land resources required for solar and wind generation, increased emissions of geothermal areas, and land and water effects of biomass production all represent significant impacts and costs. In the main, these high costs yield energy generation efficiencies well below those of conventional sources.

For the mineral industries, the major trends have been substitution of metals with plastic and ceramic products, substitution of one metal for another, and recycling. Each of these trends acts differently in terms of reducing or transferring metal demand and consumption, but each also has significant associated environmental impacts and costs.

The substitution of plastics and ceramics for specific metals is widely recognized as a major world-wide trend within industry, particularly in developed nations. This has, and increasingly will have, the effect of reducing metal demand by certain sectors of the economy. Although this substitution lowers metal demand, it must be emphasized that the substitutes utilize commodities which themselves have environmental effects, and often these effects are more serious than those of the commodity they replace. As an example, most plastics are derived from petrochemicals where the environmental impacts of oil refining and petrochemical production may be more significant than those associated with metal production. It should also be noted that, in limited areas, metals are replacing non-metals such as in the semiconductor-chip industry where traditional silicon chips are being replaced by gallium arsenide chips. This is an example of substitution which may result not only in greater environmental costs and impacts but, in this case, increased metal usage.

Aluminium is substituted for steel in beverage containers, and for copper in electrical transmission lines; gold is replaced by copper as bonding wire on semiconductor chips; and titanium is used instead of tungsten in tool and die applications. Overall, it may be argued that the replacement of metals with metals merely substitutes the environmental costs of one for the other. In many cases, aluminium is the principal alternative metal. In addition to its environmental impacts, one must add those associated with increased energy consumption. Aluminium processing requires substantially more power per unit of production than does copper or steel-the two metals it most commonly replaces.

Recycling of metals is both a major ongoing undertaking in today's industry and an increasing factor for the future, and one of the few activities which actually reduces the amount of metal needed to be produced. In the United States, for example, the recycling of aluminium, copper, lead and zinc in 1989 was respectively 20, 24, 57 and 10 per cent of the total consumption of each metal. It is, however, a complex process which requires significant energy, usually large quantities of chemicals and produces a proportionally high amount of hazardous waste (5-35 per cent of total volume). The environmental impacts and costs associated with recycling must, therefore, be balanced against those of producing the primary metals from mineral deposits. On average, however, they are lower simply because the quantities of materials that must be treated and the energy consumed are much smaller, per unit of metal produced, in recycling than primary metal production.

With both energy and minerals, the technical opportunities for substituting nonconventional or altemative sources for conventional ones are significant. However, such substitutions are not taking place, nor are they expected to take place, on a large-scale within South-East Asia. The role of non-conventional or alternative energy and mineral sources within the Asia-Pacific region will be dependent on the economic and environmental trade-offs that each presents. For the present, low cost dictates that conventional sources dominate in South-East Asia as they do virtually everywhere else in the world.

Economic development, environment and the future

The central themes of this discussion have been the linkage between economic development and population growth and increasing energy and mineral demand; between expanding energy and mineral development and usage and increasing environmental impacts; and, ultimately, the interaction of economic development, population growth, energy and mineral development and demand, environmental impacts and direct and indirect environmental costs. Overshadowing this and other discussions of these subjects is the a priori 'either/or' conflict which assumes large-scale trade-offs of the environment for development or vice versa, and how these opposite extremes can be resolved within a context of sustainable economic development.

The solution to this dilemma may lie in learning from the experience of the past and applying this to the future, particularly for the nations of South-East Asia where the conflicts are, and will be, greatest. The major lessons to be reamed and applied are in the areas of policy, technology, co-operation and information.


Effective development policy must first and foremost recognize that its formulation and implementation needs to account for its impact on the environment and, similarly, environmental policy must recognize its impact on economic development. This is rarely the case either internationally or within South-East Asia. All too often each policy is formulated with little or no input from the respective formulators or their constituents; for example, economic policies which subsidize oil, gas, fertilizer and metal use effectively promote the environmental impacts resulting from increased usage and development. Similarly environmental policy which stipulates 'unreasonably' high standards which, de facto, exclude certain industries or activities may unnecessarily retard economic development. Emission-control standards for coal-fired power stations, requiring costly or unavailable technologies, may result in curtailed energy supply or conversion to altemate fuels with equally deleterious environmental effects.

Whatever policies are adopted for environmental protection it is imperative that they provide for effective and continued monitoring, consistent enforcement, institutionalization within government and administrative flexibility (within prescribed bounds). In addition, it must be remembered that, all too often particularly within developing nations, the capacity to enact policy outstrips the ability to monitor and enforce the policy. There are large added costs associated with monitoring and enforcement which are another form of both direct and indirect environmental costs.


It is within the area of technology that the fundamental issues of economic development and economic costs are most closely linked. As a general rule, and perhaps in an expression of blind faith, it can be asserted that mankind's ability to resolve the problems of energy, minerals, environment and economic development lies in technology. Certainly, to some extent, this contention is based on historical fact as evidenced by the industrial revolution, development of offshore drilling for oil and gas and secondary recovery technologies, the mining of low-grade, high-tonnage ore deposits, and development of emission controls and water-purification systems. Future clean-coal and emission-control technologies. biometallurgy techniques and alternative fuels will all play a major role in providing energy and minerals while reducing the impact on the environment. There are at present, however, significant limitations to reliance on technology and on technological advances in the future.

First, advanced technologies are costly to develop, install and utilize, often amounting to tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per installation or use. In many developed and developing countries, the cost of advanced methods is prohibitive if economic growth is to be sustained. Secondly, access to and availability of new technologies is limited, particularly in the developing nations such as those of South-East Asia. Obviously, not all new technologies come from the developed nations but a large proportion do. Access is often restricted by government policy as much as by economic cost. Thirdly, for the future, new technologies will require high and continuing amounts of government and private research and development (R&D) funding. Declining rates of R&D sponsorship in many countries, among them the United States and United Kingdom, raise serious concerns as to whether future technologies, needed to provide energy and minerals and protect the environment, will be developed.

Irrespective of the above concems, there is little question that new technologies can and will be developed which have the capacity to increase energy and mineral supply while simultaneously lowering environmental impacts. Technological developments will also result in an increased efficiency in utilization, often cited as the most significant action that can be taken to reduce usage and, hence, the associated environmental degradation. The real question is: Will such technologies be available, at an appropriate cost, to ensure their utilization while, at the same time, promoting economic development?


Clearly, the globalization of pollution and world-wide environmental problems, such as a depleting ozone layer, acid rain and greenhouse effects, have moved countries towards unprecedented levels of co-operation in resolving these issues, or at least in understanding them. Although international collaboration is increasing, the unresolved question is whether levels of co-operation between and within government and industry and between development proponents and environmental groups is growing. Although the fortunate answer in general is 'yes', the specific answer is most likely, 'Yes, but not at a rate sufficient to mitigate and/or prevent continuing environmental degradation.'

A major opportunity exists within the nations of South-East Asia to open and maintain an effective dialogue which will result in the creation of environmentally sound development projects and policies. Such co-operation may in the early 1990s occur on a project-by-project basis for many 'greenfield' energy and mineral developments. It is, however, less common with respect to downstream activities involving existing facilities. The resolution of these issues will result from both co-operation, resulting in an understanding of the issues on all sides, and from environmentally sound economic policies, which will provide both the incentive and the possibility to implement effective, environmentally sustainable developments.


The rapidly increasing rate, scale and complexity of interactions surrounding economic development, population growth, energy and mineral development and use, and the associated environmental impacts present a virtually limitless number of problems and opportunities. A key element in dealing competently with these complexities is freely available and shared information. Effective national policies and options relating to economic development and the environment must be based on the experience and data available both within and outside individual nations. A critical information need, both nationally and internationally, is for base-line data on national stocks (renewable and nonrenewable resources, biodiversity, land, population) in order to frame proposals and plans for sustained economic development. However, since virtually all issues are now global in their impact, to a greater or lesser degree, the acquisition of base-line data must be extended both regionally and globally.

Equally important with access to information is the capacity to utilize such information in effective planning and policy. As economic development, energy and mineral and environmental issues assume even greater importance in the future, it is believed that the hope for sustainable development lies in information communicated internationally and acted upon with a view towards the future.

Summary and conclusions

Globally, the link between increasing economic development, population, energy and mineral demand and environmental degradation has been demonstrated. Although the rate, scope and intensity of the interactions may vary with individual nations and stages of economic development, the ensuing problems are regrettably common and increasing, particularly with respect to the environment.

As the fastest-growing economic region of the world, the Asia-Pacific area is also faced with rapidly increasing demand for energy and minerals. Although the energy mix is shifting towards a greater utilization of gas, absolute demand for oil and coal is expanding but non-conventional sources, such as hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass energy, are experiencing little or no growth as a proportion of the total. Similarly, in the mineral sector, demand for metals is increasing rapidly, requiring largescale developments and/or expansion of mining, smelting and processing facilities.

The rapid growth of energy and mineral demand and production brings with it large environmental costs. Direct (internalized) environmental costs are, at present, the focus of attention of governments in terms of their impact on economic development. Indirect (externalized) costs, which for the most part do not appear in national economic accounts, may perhaps be greater than direct costs and must be included in future assessments of environmental costs. Overall direct environmental costs within the region during the 1990s will exceed $3 billion for oil refining alone and $2-2.2 billion for mineral developments. Actual costs may be substantially higher, depending upon national environmental policies and standards.

For the nations of South-East Asia, the decade of the 1990s will be one of challenge with respect to balancing economic growth with environmental preservation: the dual goals of sustainable development. The maintenance of economic growth is essential from the perspective of reducing poverty within the individual countries, for only through continued growth can the economic and material resource needs of the ever-increasing population be met. From a global perspective, the nations of South-East Asia, and to a greater extent those of the OECD, must develop and implement environmental policies which address the issues of global warming, acid rain, global metal pollution and sustainable development for future generations.

Editorial comment

Discussion of Clark's Chapter 4 was led by Dr Endro Utomo of the Indonesian Ministry of Mines and Energy. He argued that energy and mineral use in South-East Asia should be viewed as part of the global system as much of the oil, gas, tin, nickel and bauxite is exported. There is a conflict between 'growth' with its necessary increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and 'stasis', which implies persistence of poverty and all the environmental problems associated with poverty. A reduction of 5 per cent in emissions from OECD countries could, however, permit a large increase in emissions from the less developed countries, without any increase in total global pollution.

This is a view subsequently taken up, more forcibly than in Yogyakarta, by Agarwal and Narain (1991) who maintain that to demand full co-operation from the developing countries in global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is, in effect, 'environmental colonialism'. Ingeniously, they argue that the natural carbon and methane sinks should be distributed between countries by population in order to arrive at permissible quotas. This would, in effect, allow the large and populous developing countries to double their emissions without adding to global pollution. While the discussants did not go so far, they clearly felt that an increase in energy generation is a necessary part of development in the South-East Asian region, and that unavoidable increases in emissions from this area and other developing regions should be offset by really significant reductions in the developed lands.

Utomo was followed by Soegiarto, who queried the gloomy prognostication presented by Clark. He, and others, raised the question of alternative energy sources, including solar energy and biogas. However, while the most promising source would seem to be hydroelectricity, certain large plans have been halted for environmental reasons, and because so many people would have been displaced by dam construction. Clearly, a trade-off between different forms of environmental damage should be considered. It was also urged that joint research between developed and developing countries is required on the harnessing of solar energy. More generally, developing countries must define lifestyles which are not simply a copy of those in developed countries. There is no need to follow the West in its wasteful over-consumption of energy.

(introductory text...)

The nature of the forest resource
Deforestation and forest degradation: Apportioning blame
Managing the forest: The role of government in land-use planning
Rebuilding the forests
The future of the forests


The nature of the forest resource

THE countries of South-East Asia may be divided floristically into two distinct provinces: insular (sometimes known as Malesia) and continental. In the western regions of Malesia-particularly Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and the island of Borneo (Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei)-are found the ever-moist conditions encouraging the growth of tropical rain forests. The dense, tall forest of the Dipterocarpaceae family is particularly characteristic of non-swampy lowland areas (below 400 metres). The flora in this part of Malesia is exceedingly rich and varied, although several different dipterocarp species will grow together, greatly adding to ease of exploitation. In a sample plot at Wanariset, East Kalimantan (the richest forest in Indonesia), 30 species of dipterocarp were found; similar plots in North Sumatra yielded 12 species (Kartawinata, 1990).

As Whitmore (1984: 7) has put it: 'The combination of relatively few timber groups, a very high stocking of trees of huge stature with clear bole lengths commonly attaining 70m or more and timbers of relatively light weight has contributed to an explosive increase in the exploitation of these forests since the end of World War 11.' Since the 1970s, these forests, particularly the light hardwood species of the Shorea and Parashorea genera (light red, dark red, yellow and white meranti, lauan, white seraya), have dominated the tropical timber trade.

Using floristic analysis to group areas together, Laumonier (1990) classified Borneo, Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia to comprise one coherent subregion, although each land mass remains floristically distinct. This subregion is related also to Java, but only distantly to the Philippines. Van Balgooy (1987) has also found the Philippines to be different, grouping her more closely with Sulawesi at the generic level. Further east towards Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, the dipterocarps become less dominant, with increasing floristic poverty.

In much of continental South-East Asia north of Peninsular Malaysia, in parts of the northern Philippines and in those areas of eastern Indonesia influenced by the Australian land mass, a strongly seasonal or monsoonal rainfall has resulted in a mixed forest. In Thailand and Myanmar, this includes valuable deciduous species such as teak (Tectona grandis), in addition to the dipterocarps. While the largest number of dipterocarp genera and species occurs in Borneo, commercial stocking is in fact highest in the drier margins where fewer species predominate (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991). In general, it appears that elevation and rainfall, especially the length of the dry season, are the major influences on vegetation, with soils and geology being of lesser importance, although locally significant.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) classifies the forest (without regard to species) as closed broadleaf forests, open broadleaf forests, bamboo forests, coniferous forests, forest fallows and shrubs (Rag, 1989, 1990b). Closed broadleaf forests, the most valuable of all the types, are found in all countries of the region, with by far the largest and richest resource in Indonesia, followed by Myanmar and Malaysia. They are defined by Rao (1989: 4) as 'stands without continuous grass cover whose crowns cover a high proportion of the area, generally multistoreyed, which have not been cleared for agriculture in the past 20 to 30 years'. They may, however, be managed or 'logged over'. Open broadleaf forests contain admixtures of grass, with a minimum of 10 per cent tree cover. Most of these are in continental South-East Asia, especially Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Vietnam possesses the largest areas of bamboo forest, largely in the north; stretches in southern Vietnam may partly be a result of the extensive defoliation during the war which ended in 1975 (SIPRI, 1976; Whitmore, 1984). Small areas of coniferous species are found in most countries, both mainland and insular.

Table 5.1 presents the area of closed broadleaf forests for all countries in South-East Asia, as measured by the FAO in 1980, with estimated updates for 1985 and projections for 1990 (where available), and subregional totals for 1990. The country-level results of the FAO's detailed 1990 measurements have not yet been released. Using 1991 sources, Table 5.2 shows the total area of each country estimated to be still under 'forest'. These data employ different and not necessarily comparable definitions. There is no doubt that the resource has experienced serious and rapid decline over the past 10 years, so that several countries in the region have now a much-depleted forest cover. This is as little as 21.5 per cent of total land area in the Philippines. According to official sources, it is perhaps 28 per cent in Thailand and Vietnam, although much lower figures have been argued for both these states (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991; Fearnside, 1990; Lohmann, 1991). In all three countries, the area under forest is now largely confined to upland districts, with the better lowland timber having long disappeared. Indonesia still dominates in terms of the total area; an average of 56 per cent of land under forest cover being slightly higher than the overall figure for insular South-East Asia, but masking a variation from 7 per cent in Java to 82 per cent in Irian Jaya (FAO/GOI, 1990).

Other definitions of forest specify the dominant species, such as dipterocarp or teak, and the proportions likely to have commercial value. In Malaysia, forests are subdivided into dipterocarp, swamp or mangrove, while the Philippines employs seven categories including dipterocarp old growth' dipterocarp residual, pine forest closed and open, submarginal forest, mossy forest and mangroves. Indonesia adopts a classification of 'mixed hardwood' forests with management potential, which may be separated into dipterocarp and non-dipterocarp, commercial and non-commercial, in addition to tidal forest varieties. Myanmar has categories of teak and hardwood only. In spite of the richness in species of many of the forests, few timbers are actually worked, apart from several of the dipterocarps, teak, specialist varieties such as the Borneo ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwagerei) and the swamp softwoods such as ramin (Gonystylus bancanus). In Malaysia, for example, there are 2,500 tree species, of which 402 are designated as commercial, but only 30 are utilized to any extent (Whitmore, 1984).

TABLE 5.1 Closed Broadleaf Forests and Total Forest: Distribution in South-East Asia, 1980,1985 and 1990 (million hectares)


Closed Broadleaf Forest

Total Forest

1980 1985 (1990)a 1980 1990
Insular South-East Asia       155.2 139.6
Indonesia 113.6 113.5 (113.2)    
Malaysia 21.0        
Philippines 9.3 7.4 (6.7)    
Brunei 0.3        
Total 144.2        
Continental South-East Asia       101.1 86.7
Myanmar 31.2        
Thailand 8. 1 6.2 (5.2)    
Laos 7.6   (6.8)    
Vietnam 7.4 4 9 (34)    
  (revised to 6.2)        
Cambodia 7.1 (6.7)      
Total 61.4        

Sources: FAO ( 1987): Rao ( 1989, 1990a, 1990b).
a 1990 figures are projections, as official figures from the 1990 study are not yet available by country; some projections are from the 1 985 figures.

TABLE 5.2 Estimated Land Area Still under Forest in South-East Asia, Late 1980s (per cent)

Country Year Percentage Comment
Insular South-East Asia      
Indonesia 1990 56 Kalimantan 63%
      Irian Jaya 82%
      Java 7%
Malaysia 1989 56 Peninsula 42%
      Sarawak 68%
      Sabah 60%
Philippines 1988 21.5  
Brunei 1989 80 56% is primary rain forest
Continental South-East Asia      
Myanmar 1989 47 Intact forest: 36%
Thailand 1989 28 15%,a 1991
Laos 1990 47  
Vietnam 1989 28 18%, b 1991; 17.4%,1991c
Cambodia 1989 41  

a Lohmann (1991)
b Feamside ( 1990).
c Collins, Sayer and Whitmore (1991).

Deforestation and forest degradation: Apportioning blame

Rates of deforestation are notoriously difficult to calculate on a comparative basis, largely because of different definitions of 'forest' and methods of categorizing vegetation regrowth. In Table 5.3, an attempt has been made to compare earlier forest cover (estimates) with present forest area. Such figures are not available for all countries, and periods studied also vary. From these data, annual rates of deforestation may be calculated, but different sources reach widely divergent estimates; for example, rates for the Philippines for the early 1980s range from 700 000 to 900 000 hectares per year (Ooi, 1987) while the figures for Vietnam range from 100 000 to 380 000 hectares per year (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991; Fearnside, 1990; Rao, 1990a).

TABLE 5.3 Estimated Declines in Area under Forest and Present Forest Area in South-East Asia, Different Years (million hectares)

Country Year Decline in Area Present Forest Area
Insular South-East Asia      
Indonesiaa 1982 119.1  
  1990 108.6  
Malaysiab 1979 21.2  
  1989 18.5  
Philippinesc 1979 8.2  
  1989 6.5  
Continental South-East Asia      
Myanmar 1989 37.3 'Intact forest'
      1980 - 31.1
Thailande 1978 17.5  
  1989 14.3  
Laos 1989 11.7 'Intact forest'
      1991 - 6.8d
Vietnam 1982f 7.8 Only 2 million hectares are productive
  1989g 9.3 1991-5.7d
Cambodiah 1970 13.0  
  1989 7.5  

a FAO/GOI (1990).
b Thang (1990).
c Jensen (1987).
d Collins, Sayer and Whitmore (1991).
e Royal Forest Department, Thailand.
f UNDP (1986).
g Vietnamese government.
h Midgley (1989).

Preliminary figures released by the FAO's Forest Resources Assessment 1990 project indicate a rate of deforestation for 1986-90 which is more than double that for 1976-80, with a total of over 2 million hectares of land deforested per year over the second half of the 1980s in insular South-East Asia and 1.4 million in continental South-East Asia (FAO, 1990) (Table 5.4). The FAO's earlier figures for other parts of the world (such as the Amazon basin) have been criticized as conservative and overestimations of remaining forest cover. It is probable that with the better resolution of remotely sensed imagery now available, a more precise differentiation between 'forest' and 'non-forest' may soon be achieved. While current estimates of total forest are thus more correct, comparative rates of loss from a less accurate earlier base may be exaggerated.

The figure for the second half of the 1980s in insular South-East Asia is considerably higher than the overall 10-year average, apparently showing continuously increasing forest loss. Studies in Indonesia reveal rates of 937 000 hectares per year from 1982 to 1990, excluding the 1982-3 fire in East Kalimantan (FAO/GOI, 1990). If these are correct (and they are supported by World Bank (1990a) estimates), they still account for less than half of the total deforestation reported by the FAO for the region in 1986 - 90. Of the four countries listed by the FAO, oil-rich Brunei contributes little to total deforestation, felling timber for local use only. Thang (1990) suggests rates for Malaysia of 275 000 hectares per year for 1979-89. It is likely that these have increased since then, particularly in Sarawak, with continued expansion of log production and the opening up of the country through timber roads. The World Resources Institute (WRI, 1990) proposes a figure of 143 000 hectares per year for the Philippines in 1981-8, which is reasonable, given the decline in the availability of timber except in such islands as Palawan.

TABLE 5.4 Estimated Annual Deforestation Rates in South-East Asia, 1976-1980, 1981-1990and 1986 1990

Region 1976 80 1981-90 1986-90
Insular South-East Asia 888 000 1 600 000 2 018 000
Continental South-East Asia 633 000 1 400 000 1 384 000
Total 1 521 000 3 000 000 3 403 000

Sources: FAO (1987); Rao (1989, 1990b).

It is also possible that rates for Indonesia, undoubtedly the 'forest giant' of the region, are even higher than previously reported. A country-by-country breakdown of FAO figures would throw more light on these early 1990s estimates. Within Indonesia, deforestation is greatest in Sumatra at 367 700 hectares per year (Table 5.5). This island has been the major recipient of transmigrant settlers; although not all have been located in forested sites, this may help to explain the rapid decline in tree cover. Laumonier's detailed vegetation maps of Sumatra (Laumonier, 1983; Laumonier, Purnadjaja and Setiabudhi, 1986/7) allow a more accurate appraisal of forest conditions than is possible for other regions, which lack such an inventory. Rates of deforestation must also be related to the total available forest area; in Indonesia the current rate, although high, represents only 0.8 per cent of the total area (WRI, 1990).

The FAO (Rag, 1989: 6) distinguishes between deforestation and forest degradation as follows: 'Deforestation . . . refers to the transfer of forest land to non-forest uses and includes all land where the forest cover has been stripped and the land converted to such uses as: permanent cultivation, shifting cultivation, human settlements, mining, building of dams, etc.' Degradation, on the other hand, 'refers to a reduction in the extent and quality of the forest cover due to such factors as: indiscriminate logging; inappropriate roadmaking methods; forest fires, etc.'

It is notable that shifting cultivation is included as a cause of deforestation, although traditional swiddening does not entail permanent conversion but only temporary use of forest land. The perception that logging in general brings little disturbance to forests (it is only 'indiscriminate logging' which is seen to lead to degradation) while shifting cultivation constitutes a major cause of deforestation (elevated to the major cause by a number of national forest departments) has led to ideological disagreement between the FAO and environmental groups as represented by the Ecologist. The former is seen to be supporting commercial/logging interests in opposition to the interests of indigenous peoples. Some clarification is necessary, as there is no doubt that land-seeking 'shifting cultivators' who move into newly opened forests along logging roads will often bring about permanent conversion of these areas. Forest destruction is seen by many as a 2-stage process, with logging almost inevitably followed by settlement and, eventually, complete removal of the tree cover(Kummer, 1990a).

TABLE 5.5 Estimated Rate of Deforestation by Major Area, Indonesia, 1982-1990 (thousand hectares per year)

Area Annual Rate
Sumatra 367.7
excluding 1982/3 fire 233.2
including fire 377.7
Sulawesi 117.5
Maluku 24.3
Irian Jaya 163.7
Nusa Tenggara and Timor Timur 14.1
Outer Islands  
excluding fire 920.5
including fire 1 298.2
Bali 0.4
Java 16.1
excluding Kalimantan fire 937.0
including fire 1 314.7

Source: FAO/GOI (1990).

Confrontational positions over the respective roles of shifting cultivators and loggers in forest destruction have been adopted in Sarawak since the late 1980s (Pure, 1990; Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 1990). A study for the Worldwide Fund for Nature, while noting a generally sympathetic view towards traditional shifting cultivation by conservationists, also observed that 'traditional' systems have been changing: 'There is evidence that such new factors as increased road access and the availability of motor vehicles and chainsaws are turning modern shifting cultivation into a greater threat to the forest than was previously the case' (Kavanagh, Rahim and Hails, 1989: 36, quoting a study by Marajan and Dimin, 1989).

The Marajan and Dimin study, based on 1985 Landsat imagery subsequently validated on the ground, found 28 per cent of Sarawak to be affected by shifting cultivation. The authors concluded that, because of modern technology, shifting cultivation is no longer practiced in traditional fashion, and that as a result large areas of primary forest are being lost. This view is rather extreme, particularly the purported attack on the primary forests, as in much of Sarawak, especially the more accessible western divisions, long-worked secondary forests are characteristic of the area. Cramb (1989) points out that in these western divisions, shifting cultivation, while still a component of household labour output, has given way to cash crops such as rubber or pepper and is stable or declining in terms of land used. A study carried out under the auspices of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTC, 1990) does, however, note high rates of encroachment of up to 50 000 hectares per year, mainly into logged-over forests on state land. The authors conclude: 'Although shifting cultivation is probably a diminishing factor in the long run, its persistence at rates similar to these must be taken into account' (ITTC, 1990: 29).

Similar views on the impact of chain-saws in 'modernizing' shifting cultivation have been presented for East Kalimantan by Kartawinata and Vayda (1984), Kartawinata et al. (1984) and later by Inoue and Lahjie (1990). The Kalimantan studies show that longfallow, forest-maintaining practices appear now to be the norm only among remote farmers. As those farmers move to more accessible areas, they reduce fallow periods and buy or hire chain-saws to make larger clearings for cash crops; the size of such clearings and the reduced fallow may impede forest regeneration. While these findings appear to contradict those of Cramb in Sarawak, the East Kalimantan situation may represent an earlier stage of the agricultural intensification now more characteristic of parts of East Malaysia.

Kartawinata and Vayda also reached the conclusion, shared by many writers, that the timber companies caused great damage to the forests, with about 50 per cent of the residual trees being scarred by mechanical logging and the resultant soil compaction, erosion and invasion by secondary species making dipterocarp regeneration very difficult (Kartawinata and Vayda, 1984; see also Hamzah, 1978; Marsono, 1980; Tinal and Palenewen, 1978). Like the 'modem' shifting cultivators mentioned above, timber companies also make large gaps in the forest, in the form of roads, camps and log yards; such gaps amount to deforestation. Even selective logging leaves much larger gaps than would occur naturally, and the gaps are likely to be colonized by secondary species only.

For the Philippines, Bautista (1990) argued that it is easy to single out 'voiceless and cloutless' shifting cultivators and upland migrant-settlers as being largely to blame for forest destruction when most of the lands they occupy have previously been under timber concessions and heavily logged. He suggests that their 'culpability', if it may be termed as such, lies in their sheer presence in the area, placing constraints on regeneration. Both in the Philippines and in Thailand, where deforestation in the uplands has led to ecological disasters in adjacent lowlands, ethnic conflict has at times erupted over upland activities (Kaye, 1990)

The incidence of forest invasion by settlers has been related positively to population pressure and negatively to availability of suitable land elsewhere. The Indonesian FAO study has suggested a strong direct correlation between deforestation and population density, and an inverse relationship with agricultural productivity and the growth of real income (FAO/GOI, 1990: Part 1).

Kummer, on the other hand, using data from the Philippines with deforestation as the dependent variable, came to the conclusion that dominance by the elite over the forest resource, with concomitant lack of control by government, was responsible for the demise of the primary forest. There was a positive relationship between deforestation and changes in agricultural area and road networks, but population increase was not the 'driving force' of deforestation. Kummer (1990a: 208) concluded that 'the rapid rates of deforestation observed in e.g., Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil, are not the result of population pressure but, rather, reflect macro level decisions made by government officials ... increased emphasis should be placed on the socio-economic context in which deforestation takes place'.

Managing the forest: The role of government in land-use planning

Examination of the role of national (or, in the case of Malaysia, state) governments in managing the forests of South-East Asia reveals a number of similarities. 'Forest areas' are universally under government jurisdiction. Using the examples of Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, Poffenberger (1990a, 1990b) has noted the growing authority of the state since the initial establishment of forest services during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Management policies initiated during colonial times have been continued in the modern era, with forest bureaucracies inevitably clashing with indigenous forest communities, and governments aiming primarily to siphon off the spoils of the recent decades of increased exploitation. While occupying a large proportion of the total land mass (74 per cent of Indonesia), or the total uplands (all areas in the Philippines above 18 per cent slope), 'forests' are likely to include sizeable stretches which are unwooded, and substantial land in various stages of regrowth after being farmed by shifting cultivators. Permanent cash cropping by smallholders characterizes other areas. It is estimated that 65 per cent of public forest lands in the Philippines consists of grasslands and degraded farmlands (Borlagdan, 1990).

A forest land-use classification will usually contain at least three categories: protection (hydrological), conservation (ecological) and production. There may also be areas on forestry maps specifically earmarked for permanent conversion to agriculture, mines, dams or settlements, sometimes in belated recognition of a conversion which has long since occurred. While protected and conservation areas are supposed to be reserved, the production forests are either leased out for logging to private concessionaires or, in the case of the socialist states, given out for working by various kinds of state-controlled production enterprises. In Vietnam, there is a range of such ventures, depending on the type of forest, organized at national, provincial and village level (Bud Xuan Yen, 1990). Laos has a similar system, with provincial authorities permitted to make profits from logging, sometimes through the use of Thai firms. Forestry has been dominant in the Laotian economy, with 80 per cent of exports in much of the 1980s in the form of unprocessed logs (Worner, 1990). In response to increasing pressure from Thai interests to be allowed access to forests following the logging ban in Thailand, Laos has instituted a tax on raw-log exports and is attempting to improve both its own forest-management capabilities and wood-processing facilities, inviting Thai capital to invest in the latter (Pragtong and Thomas, 1990). Due to the lack of basic infrastructure in Laos, Thai interest has not extended much beyond basic sawmilling (Bangkok Post, 4 April 1991).

In Cambodia, on the other hand, where shortages of trained forestry personnel are extreme and security is still a problem, well-organized systems are lacking and most production has been local and small-scale. This will change quickly if conditions improve in border areas, as Thai logging interests are poised to exploit the resource (Bangkok Post, 20 June 1990, 26 July 1990; Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991). Myanmar has introduced a mixed strategy; from 1989, the non-teak forests have been opened to private concessionaires. However, in areas along the Thai border, 48 concessions have been given out to Thai firms, largely in teak forests.

Some territories, such as Peninsular Malaysia and later the Philippines, have had detailed forest inventories completed, so that there is reasonably accurate information on the state of the resource. In other countries, inventories are either under way (in Indonesia and Laos) or restricted to particular districts (in Myanmar), so that data are at present more limited. In the Philippines, a World Bank (1989b) survey has also commissioned a detailed and ground-truthed land-use study utilizing SPOT imagery. The study has provided further information essential for the proper management and planning of the forests.

There is little or no demarcation of reserved areas on the ground in most countries of the region, so that incursions by both loggers and small settlers are common. A plethora of regulations usually exist (on paper) in an attempt to control logging and to force those in charge of production to adopt what should be systems of sustainable management. Such controls have failed in most cases, partly because of a universal shortage of forestry personnel to police them. In the capitalist states, the failure is seen to stem from lack of political will or inability to stand up to powerful interests and lobby groups. However, the socialist nations have fared no better in terms of sustainable forestry, as Laos and Vietnam now candidly admit (Bud Xuan Yen, 1990; Lao PDR, 1989a, 1989b).

The head of the Laotian delegation to an Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission meeting stated that almost all of Laos' forests were being used unsustainably, as a result of the activities of both shifting cultivators and loggers. He noted that while according to existing regulations, logged areas should remain under forest and subsequent harvests be possible, 'in practice post-logging surveys are inadequate, there is little information on the value of residual stands and few measures to protect them. Post-logging silvicultural treatments are not applied and logged areas are often encroached upon by shifting cultivators' (Inthavong, 1990: 2).

The dual functions of the Vietnam Ministry of Forestry-production and management-have meant a concentration on the former, with little attention to the latter. The same applies to forests under provincial or village control:

Because of lack of clarity for forest management at various levels of organisation, many provinces and districts disregard important tending requirements and pay no attention at all to the capacity of forests to regenerate. At the same time high targets have been set to increase forest production for marketing or to exchange with other goods or to build up local funding resources (Bud Xuan Yen, 1990: 3).

While a number of parks and reserves have been proclaimed, the lack of resources and management experience retards their development, and encroachment by settlers and uncontrolled hunting threaten their viability (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991).


In Indonesia, management is based on an agreed forest land-use classification (Tata Guna Hutan Kesepakatan, TGHK) which distinguishes protected forest, limited and general production forest and conversion forest, in addition to smaller areas for parks and reserves. The boundary between the production and conversion forest is a controversial one, based on rates of tree stocking. Within the conversion forest, clear felling is allowed, and such activities as transmigration settlements are supposed to be located on contiguous blocks, after the area has been logged. This does not always happen, as the lack of suitable sites sometimes necessitates the 'swapping' of parcels of land from within the designated production area (Potter, 1990).

Production forest is worked by concessionaires on a 'selection felling' basis, later revised to 'selection felling and planting', as some replanting is now compulsory. Theoretically, a 35-year cutting cycle is the aim, but it is now admitted that sufficient medium-size trees are unlikely to be available on the concessions to ensure this second cut (FAO/GOI, 1990). Concessions (of which there were 575 in 1990) are for 20 years, with renewal if regulations are observed. Despite closer policing of the regulations with cancellation of some leases and fining of defaulting concessionaires, it has been claimed that not more than 4 per cent of concession holders could be classified as responsible managers of the forest (Kompas, 23 January 1990). Between 1979 and 1985, Indonesia gradually introduced a total ban on raw-log exports, insisting that concessionaires construct plywood plants and sawmills. This was subsequently achieved, and Indonesia has risen to the position of leading exporter of tropical plywood. In the process, much consolidation of timber interests has occurred, with a few large cartels now controlling both logging and processing. These cartels, and the political forces they represent, challenge attempts at reform of their activities by the forest service (Potter, 1991).

There is still considerable ignorance about the location of the best areas of timber. It has been suggested that proper land-use planning needs this information base, in order to reduce settler incursions into protection forests, the best production forests and also national parks. Such areas should be clearly demarcated, and certain of the production forests should be more intensively worked to secure the same levels of production from a smaller coupe, thus making it possible to release other land, preferably that used for treecrops, for settlement. At the same time, some areas of forest may be returned to community control, with community-operated forest 'buffer zones' surrounding important protected areas. Collection activities, especially for fuelwood, fruit and rattans would be permitted in such zones (IIED/GOI, 1985).

The series of studies published by the British Regional Physical Planning Project for Transmigration (RePPProT) team employed detailed analyses of the physical resources to identify land systems suitable for tree-crop-based settlement (RePPProT, 1985, 1987a, 1987b). In these reports, and in that by Ross (1984), it was presumed that agriculture would take precedence over forest; the International Institute of Economic Development/Government of Indonesia (IIED/GOI) study, on the other hand, took the view that much more forest should be retained, but used as a source of income for communities in its midst. However, in her review for the World Bank, Davis argued that 'the question is not whether forested land will be converted to agriculture but whether it will be done by design or by chance' (World Bank, 1990a: 41). She suggested granting shifting cultivators secure tenure for up to 20 hectares of land per family, in which they could be encouraged to develop agroforestry schemes. It was also recommended that the comparative advantages of particular provinces with regard to agriculture or forestry should be recognized: East Kalimantan has the best forests but poor soils, so settlers should be directed elsewhere: Sumatra has an advantage in tree crops and could absorb more settlers engaged in that form of production.


Like Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia has also considered the relative merits of forestry and agriculture, with agriculture seen as the more important. Large areas have been cleared for tree-crop settlement schemes during the 1970s and 1980s, following a preliminary land-capability classification. Much of the forest land originally cleared consisted of the best lowland dipterocarp, leaving the bulk of what was to become the Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) defined by the National Forestry Policy of 1978-in hill dipterocarp. This caused some problems, as most research had been conducted in lowland forests, and the Malayan Uniform System of logging was based on these areas (Appanah and Salleh, 1991; Johari, 1982; Whitmore, 1984). That system consisted of removing the mature crop in one single felling of all trees to 45 centimetres diameter at breast height. This was followed by poison-girdling of defective trees and those considered to be uncommercial to encourage natural regrowth of the next generation of dipterocarps, especially the light-loving species of Shorea.

Faced with the much more varied conditions of the hill forests, the Selective Management System, which is more typical of other countries in South-East Asia, was adopted. It has been claimed that the Malaysian system is more firmly based on research into such aspects as growth rates, to ensure continuous production with cuts every 25-40 years. Its success is seen to be contingent on reducing logging damage to not more than 30 per cent of the intermediate-size trees (Than", 1990). Burgess (1990) is less complimentary about the actual working of the system, which varies from state to state with sometimes very short concession periods and cutting cycles.

Agricultural schemes such as those undertaken by the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) were designed primarily to reduce rural poverty. Although criticized for the speed at which first the lowland and then some of the upland forests have been converted to tree crops, Peninsular Malaysia seems to have at least been successful in reducing the kind of land hunger found in countries like the Philippines and Thailand. That factor, together with the provision of alternative employment opportunities for the rural population, has meant that the PFE does not suffer the incursions of local population-incursions typical of forest areas elsewhere (FAO, 1989). Like its Indonesian counterpart, this forest is subdivided into protective, productive and what are termed amenity forests, the last category including areas set aside for research, floral and faunal protection and recreation. Areas outside the PFE which remain under forest are scheduled for conversion after logging.

Bans on raw-log exports from the peninsula (which have not been followed in East Malaysia) have led to considerable employment generation in downstream processing. From around 1988, shortages of raw materials (and the continued refusal of East Malaysia to supply these) have necessitated a move to other sources, such as rubberwood and plantation supplies; however, much of the latter is still immature.

The East Malaysian state of Sarawak follows its own version of the selective logging system, while a modified uniform system is found in Sabah (Schmidt, 1991). The situation in Sarawak is complicated by the fact that large areas of state land, over much of which the indigenous inhabitants hold customary rights, lie outside the PFE. Most have been perceived by the government as available for logging, despite the protests of some of their native residents. While long-settled groups do have rights to tracts originally cleared before 1958, newcomers and hunter-gatherers, who are still nomadic, do not. All wish to retain access to wider areas of forest for collecting and hunting purposes and, while gaining temporary employment (and sometimes compensation) from logging companies, cite many instances of environmental damage to their lands and streams. As a result, serious conflicts have arisen (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991; Hong, 1987; Hurst, 1990).

It is largely from state land that Sarawak's very substantial and quite unsustainable production of logs has originated, despite promises from the state government to incorporate much more of its forested land into the PFE and restrict total out-turn of timber, strategies also endorsed by the recent International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) mission (ITTC, 1990). In particular, the mission suggested withdrawing land under dispute from native community claims from timber production, at least until all such claims had been legally settled. It estimated that about 15 per cent of total production would be affected by such a move.

The Philippines

In common with most other South-East Asian states, the Philippines theoretically practices a system of selective felling, having been influenced originally by American forestry practices. The forest estate is, however, dwindling fast, following the large volumes exported up to the early 1970s and a continuing high level of production, despite attempts to set limits. According to the World Bank (1989b), 90 per cent of the most valuable old-growth dipterocarp forests have been lost in the last 30 years since around 1960, due mainly to excessive logging induced by the underpricing of the resource. Timber is now supposedly processed locally, but logs are sometimes still shipped out illegally.

The Philippine government classifies lands above 18 per cent slope as belonging to the forest sector; these may then be leased out to private interests through Timber License Agreements. Up to two-thirds of these agreements are held for short periods, perhaps 9 or 10 years only; the short period indicates a lack of interest in long-term sustainability. Selective logging is in fact said to be hardly practiced because intensive operations are easier and cheaper. It has also been suggested that the granting of timber concessions has been 'instrumental in the process of elite formation in the country' (Bautista, 1990: 78, fn. 13). The state's enforcement capacity is weak, both in relation to the activities of loggers and to incursions by small settlers within the upland forest domain. As the FAO (1989: 194) points out, 'Even where the catchment forests have survived, the failure of other measures in the economy to relieve the poverty and population induced pressure for land, still shows the social limits to official land use designations.'

This has resulted in ecological decline with high rates of erosion throughout the uplands, together with flooding and sedimentation on the lowlands (Myers, 1988) and an imminent timber famine. Following failed attempts at total bans, from early 1989 the government introduced embargoes on logging in all provinces with less than 40 per cent tree cover; this includes all but 9 of the 73 provinces (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991).


Thailand also instituted a ban on logging in 1989, following ecological disasters consequent upon excessive deforestation. In this case, the ban is total. Hafner and Apicharvullop (1990) maintain that the Royal Forest Department, like most government forest departments until the late 1980s, has been too preoccupied with the technical and commercial aspects of timber production which have served the interests of large-scale, forest-based enterprises. Problems of human-forest interaction have been largely ignored, except to blame the people for increasing levels of forest destruction. Now, with the forests confined to the north and areas along the borders, the resources available in nearby Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are attracting the attention of former timber concessionaires Increasingly, eucalyptus plantation programmes, together with agroforestry schemes, are attempting to restore some kind of forest cover to the desired level of 40 per cent of the country's area (Arbhabhirama et al., 1988).


Myanmar's management system for its teak forests, with a 30-year selection cycle and use of elephants to haul logs to the streams, is the oldest in operation in the Tropics; it was started in the mid-nineteenth century. Improvement fellings are carried out twice during the cycle, eliminating specimens with poor growth and clearing vines and parasites. This system is operated largely in the reserved forests (about 15 per cent of the total) under strict management of the forest department (Union of Myanmar Forest Department, 1989). Despite some poaching and encroachment into the reserves (described as 'within manageable proportions'), the system has been successful in maintaining sustained yields of timber with minimal damage to the environment. Its continuing viability is, however, being threatened by commercial pressures to replace the elephants with machines (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991).

Much greater pressures on the teak forests are occurring in the border areas with Thailand, home to the Karen and Mon minority groups. Despite security problems and periodic cessation of logging due to fighting between the Burmese and Karen armies, very rapid deforestation has been taking place under largely mechanized operations. A Karen source has been quoted as saying that the logging companies 'are cutting indiscriminately because they don't care for the future. One year of their cutting is equal to ten years of ours (with elephants and muscle-power only) and they don't replant the teak as we did' (Bangkok Post, 19 May 1990). Thai customs sources estimate that at least 0.5 million trees have been felled by these loggers in the first 2 years of the 5-year concessions (Bangkok Post, 3 November 1990).

In the period to 1995, the Myanmar government aims to use 60 per cent of the forest area for timber production, much of it to be exported in the form of raw logs, but there is discussion of the need for more local processing. Thai border trade with Myanmar doubled in value between 1989 and 1990 to B2 billion. Most of the imports are of rawteak logs (Bangkok Post, 16 July 1991). There are no plans for conversion of any forest land to permanent agriculture, though shifting cultivation is perceived to be a problem, particularly in watershed areas, over which no individual state organization has definitive control (Union of Myanmar Forest Department, 1989).

Rebuilding the forests

Given the rapid decline in the natural forests of South-East Asia, individual countries have been preoccupied with three major questions: (i) how to ensure adequate supplies of timber and other forest products for national needs (and possibly, continuing export); (ii) how to repair the ecological damage which has resulted from rapid deforestation; and (iii) how to reduce further encroachments on forest lands and improve the socioeconomic condition of those currently living within the forest estate.

Regeneration and Management

Improved management of existing timber stands, through post-logging silvicultural treatments and enrichment planting in the gaps, together with reduction of harvesting damage will help to secure greater sustainability of production in areas where good forests still remain, such as parts of Indonesia and Malaysia (Than", 1990). These countries must attempt to retain their advantage in natural forests, now that the extent of deterioration in other areas has become apparent. Dipterocarp forests are notoriously difficult to regenerate because of infrequent seeding and the fact that the seeds remain viable for short periods only. While some species, such as several of the Shorea, demand open conditions; others, like the slower-growing Dipterocarpus, prefer shade. Competition from large-leaf secondary species and predation by insects are additional problems, together with the disturbance to the soil resulting from logging activities, and desiccation of seedlings in the resulting gaps (Reich and Gong, 1990; Whitmore, 1991). It is mainly for these reasons that most logging concessionaires have given little attention to natural regeneration techniques, preferring to replant, when forced to do so, with fastgrowing exotics.

Experimentation is continuing with the role of the mycorrhizal fungi which grow symbiotically with the tree-root systems, and they have been demonstrated to be essential for proper seedling growth and development (Lee, 1990; Smits, 1987). As long as their mycorrhizae are preserved, wild seedlings may be transferred to nurseries and raised for replanting. Generally using hormonal treatments, techniques have also been developed for rooting viable cuttings taken from mature trees (Smite, 1987, 1990; Srivastava et al., 1986). Although undoubtedly of great potential value in improving dipterocarp regeneration, such experiments have not yet been adopted commercially. Smits believes, however, that the prospects for widespread replanting of dipterocarps in logged-over forests are now good and that plantations of such species as Shorea leprosula (light red meranti) could be raised economically on a 25-30year rotation. He suggests that wildling planting stock could be obtained by co-operation among regional countries with different times of dipterocarp seeding (Smite, 1990).

While again not strictly commercial, following disasters such as the wartime defoliation of parts of southern Vietnam and the 1982-3 fire in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, attention is also being given to techniques of rehabilitation of natural ecosystems. The restoration of the Ma Da woods near Ho Chi Minh City-where four of the shade-loving dipterocarp species (Dipterocarpus alatus, D. dyer), Hopea odorata, Anisoptera costata) were able to grow as an understorey following establishment of a cover of fast-growing Acacia auriculiformis-is an interesting achievement (Kemf, 1988,1990; Thai van Trung, 1987). Similar long-term experiments aimed at regenerating the forests of East Kalimantan's burned area have been recommended (Schindele, Thoma and Panzer, 1989).

While the light hardwoods have been the basis for large plywood industries as well as general construction timber. it is also suggested that a wider mix of species could be utilized, guaranteeing a more intensive management of smaller areas of forest (FAO/GOI, 1990). Existing plywood plants, which are particularly numerous in Indonesia and represent high levels of investment and employment, will have to be adapted to take smaller and inferior logs, as well as timber with different characteristics. Specialty timbers, such as rubberwood which is already increasingly used in Malaysia, might be further developed for industrial purposes.

Plantation Forestry

In addition to the recognized need to improve natural-forest logging systems, where this is still feasible, a common strategy of almost all countries in their efforts to secure future timber supplies has been the sowing of fast-growing exotics, often monocultures, in plantations. Favoured species have been Acacia mangium, Paraserianthes falcataria, Gmelina arborea and, sometimes, Eucalyptus deglupta in the Equatorial areas, with Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Acacia auriculiformis and some local species in the monsoonal regions.

The wood from industrial forest estates is used in pulp and paper plants, wood chips and fillers, and light construction, while Gmelina arborea produces higher-quality timber suitable for furniture. The plantation product obviously performs a different role to the raw material from the natural forest. Its advantage is its high yield per hectare and its rapid growth, but the initial establishment is expensive. Acacia mangium has a 9-13 year rotation and a yield of 22-24 cubic metres per hectare per year, compared with meranti with a 6 - 9 cubic metres per hectare per year return a*er 35-45 years. Even teak, which is often grown in plantations, needs about 40 years to produce 9-12 cubic metres per hectare per year (FAO/GOI, 1990). Multilateral aid agencies, such as the Asian Development Bank, have been happy to finance the development of industrial plantations because of their predicted high rates of return. The directors of Sabah Softwoods, a pioneer in this area, do not see returns as so secure. They started with Pinus caribea, shifting later to Acacia mangium; they regard these plantations as relatively high-risk ventures, with a considerable degree of skill required in monitoring and management (Golokin and Cassels, 1988).

Disadvantages of monocultures have also been identified, such as their liability to widespread attack by pests and diseases, a danger intensified by the narrow genetic base from which they are drawn. It is reported, for example, that the whole stock of Acacia mangium in Sabah comes from a single Australian parent (Salleh and Hashim, 1982). There are also doubts about long-term sustainability and growth under the prevailing poor soil conditions, and criticism of the limited scope offered as habitat for indigenous flora and fauna, compared with even degraded natural forest. Eucalyptus cumaldulensis plantings have been blamed for lowering water tables in dry areas and for depletion of soil nutrients. This argument is most relevant to the role of such trees in village settings, where local species prove more suitable (Lohmann, 1990).

In most countries, the plans for replanting run tar ahead of the achievement. In Indonesia, for example, the replanting target for the industrial forests (Hutan Tanaman Industri, HTI) outside Java was set at 1.5 million hectares for 1984-9, but only 69 000 hectares were planted (FAO/GOI, 1990). The Compensatory Planting Programme in Peninsular Malaysia, begun in 1982 and expected to constitute 35 per cent of total log production by the late 1990s (Johari, 1988), had plantings of 36 874 hectares at the end of 1989, also behind schedule. Sabah, which began its programme as early as 1973, had 50 306 hectares by the end of the 1980s (Than", 1990).

Since introducing its logging ban in early 1989, Thailand has rented out considerable areas of degraded National Reserve Forests for plantations of Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Some planters are private companies with connections to paper mills, while government-owned estates also exist. This is in line with the forest department's policy to return forest cover to 40 per cent of the land area, with 25 per cent devoted to plantations. Disputes have arisen, especially in the north-east where large numbers of forest dwellers are militantly resisting government plantations taking over land they claim, but to which they have no legal title (Lohmann, 1990). In eastern areas, indebted villagers are said to have sold their land to private plantation companies. It is estimated that more than 20 per cent of Thailand's villages, with their 10 million people, are located in degraded forest reserves. The issues of land ownership and land security are obviously critical and need to be resolved before reforestation and encroachment questions can really be addressed (Bangkok Post, 25 February 1991).

Similar disputes are beginning in Indonesia, though on a smaller scale, as land is resumed from shifting cultivators for forest-plantation development (fieldwork, South Kalimantan, July 1991). Although it was suggested in this case that local employment might be provided by the plantation, farmers feel that the wages are too low. Transmigrants may be willing to take up such employment, but locals could earn more from their own diversified activities provided these could be maintained. Burning for plot preparation is a particular problem, as the people are expected to stay at a considerable distance from the new forest, which is very vulnerable to dry-season conflagration. Some 'accidents' have already occurred, and the forest police have been very vigilant. Resulting confrontational attitudes have caused considerable anxiety in the district.

Where plantations are seen to pose problems to local settlers, they are likely to be subject to attack, either overt or covert. Peluso (1990) details the Javanese experience with their long-standing teak plantations. These are no longer sustainable as they are being over-cut and replantings continually fail because of human interference.

In Vietnam, eucalyptuses have been planted on bare hills in the most northern provinces to augment the supplies of bamboo and native hardwoods for the country's largest paper plant, the Swedish-aided Bay Bang Mill, which, up to the end of the 1980s, was still running at only 50 per cent of capacity (Collins, Sayer and Whitmore, 1991). When originally set up, the mill was admittedly 'concerned with paper, not people' (Liljestrom, Fforde and Ohlsson, 1987: 41) and sought to monopolize all timber supplies within three provinces. Constantly increasing shortages of wood for processing led to a Swedish-initiated inquiry into the living conditions of the mainly female forest workers in the Raw Material Area of this mill to discover the causes of their apparent low productivity. It was found that the workers, who were recruited from the heavily populated Red River delta, were suffering considerable hardship, having lived for many years isolated in remote areas on low and irregular wages. They had found ways of appropriating whatever wood they needed for fuel and house construction and to augment their incomes.

Greater freedom for state employees since the late 1980s has led to increasing diversion of wood on to the open market, while much of the forest land they have worked has been fumed over to local co-operatives for self-management. The latter are also aware of the real value of the wood, and are charging the mill high prices for it. Meanwhile, the forest workers are spending more of their time growing their own food. A devolution of responsibility from the state to the people is occurring, so that the mill-instead of being an all-powerful consumer of the scarce resource (wood)-has been forced to participate in the overall socio-economic development of the area. The Raw Material Area has become the Socioeconomic Forest Development Area, in what is seen as a harmonization of the state, collective and family economies (Liljestrom, Fforde and Ohlsson, 1987).

A rather different approach involving local smallholders has been developed around the mill of the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines. On 10-hectare lots, farmers raise 8 hectares of Paraserianthes falcataria and 2 hectares of food crops. This system is very successful because of the guaranteed market for pulp within a set distance from the mill (Lasco and Lasco, 1990), and indicates alternative strategies to plantation development where population densities are high.

Within the socialist states of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, plantations and woodlots for fuelwood have been far more important than raw-material plantations for pulp and paper. This is in order to meet both village and urban demand. Myanmar has longstanding big-energy plantations, with fuelwood being used in small-scale industry as well as for household consumption. Both Vietnam and Laos are each planning massive reforestation schemes to establish 3 million hectares of plantation forests on deforested land. Much of this would come about through community tree-planting programmes. Demand for fuelwood is extremely high in these states (estimated at 38.5 millon cubic metres in Myanmar by the year 2000), and is a reflection of their poverty (Midgley, 1989).

Community Forestry and Shifting Agriculture

The techniques known as 'community forestry', 'agroforestry' and 'social forestry' refer to combinations of people and trees, but cover a range of meanings and systems. By 1990, they had come to be perceived as offering solutions to the problems encountered by the state in forest management when the needs of forest dwellers are ignored or brushed aside. 'Community forestry' may simply be applied to local management of a forest area, including extraction of its products on a sustainable basis and protection of the area from depredation by outsiders. While 'social forestry' and 'agroforestry' are sometimes used interchangeably, the former is a broader concept referring to the total context of participatory development in which an agroforestry or community forestry system may operate (Aquino, del Castillo and Payuan, 1987). Agroforestry is specifically defined as a combination of woody perennials with food or forage crops and/or animals on the same management unit, either sequentially or simultaneously, with the aim of obtaining greater outputs on a sustained basis (ICRAF, 1983).

Traditional shifting cultivation may thus be classified as an agroforestry system. Introduction of cash sources in the form of rattans, permanent tree crops or small livestock may improve the system's stability when it is subjected to pressures for higher incomes (Lahjie and Seibert, 1988). Some traditional systems have already developed complex combinations of food and tree crops: for example, the damar (Shorea javanica) gardens of Lampung in Sumatra (Mary and Michon, 1987; Michon and Bompard, 1987). In areas of fairly low population pressure that are still forested, agroforestry systems, like community forestry, may be designed to improve living conditions in situ and discourage encroachment on to protected or reserved forest.

Quite different systems must be evolved in areas where population pressure and levels of deforestation are already severe. In upland areas of the Philippines, for example, the most important aims have been to reduce soil erosion and improve the sustainability of upland cropping through tree-planting activities (Borlagdan et al., 1990). Where reforestation is the principal focus, as in Vietnam, the taungya system has been adopted (Le Trong Cuc, 1988). Here, farmers are permitted to grow food crops between the trees for about two years before canopy closure makes continued cropping uneconomic. In Java, where this system (known as tumpangsari ) is widespread, Stoney and Bratamihardja (1990) recount how modifications have occurred to permit the evolution of a social-forestry programme. The State Forest Corporation (Perum Perhutani) has, over time, agreed to allow greater participation of local villagers in forest management. Wider spacing of trees enables crops to grow for a longer period without being shaded out; fruit trees and other species besides the standard rice and corn may now be planted in between the teak rows.

Most important to all systems, even those traditionally developed under communal management by forest people themselves, is the question of tenurial rights over the areas (or trees) involved. Cropping systems which include trees are inevitably long-term, hence the overwhelming importance of secure tenure to the people concerned. The Philippine Integrated Social Forestry Project thus allows individual farmers 25-year stewardship leases to occupy public lands, provided they develop them using agroforestry principles; communal forest leases are available to indigenous groups. The Thai Forest Village and National Forest Land Allotment projects have also granted certificates of use to land in National Reserved Forests.

Such initiatives have not been without problems. Hafner and Apichatvullop ( 1990) argue that the government grossly underestimated the demand for land in the forest areas, so the possibilities for secure tenure have led to increased migration and further pressure on the forests. Nevertheless, secure tenure and participatory management go some way towards repairing the alienation so often experienced by local people as a result of logging and other commercial activities: forest regeneration programmes are seen to be to their advantage.

The future of the forests

Sayer and Collins (1991) argue that the fate of the remaining forests in South-East Asia will be determined in the 1990s. Being conservationists, they see the major need as increased investment to include at least 10 per cent of the forests in totally protected areas, parks and reserves, so that examples may be preserved of the area's amazing plant and animal wealth. They also reason that current trends and investments give an ever-greater role to plantations as sources of raw materials, with little interest by regional governments in promoting further long-term, concession-based logging of natural forests. With so much of the forests already logged over, and serious doubts about their ability to sustain an economic second cut within a reasonable time span, it is logical that plantations should be seen as at least a partial answer. However, most of these plantations are new; little information is available to assess their long-term sustainability after multiple replantings. Sayer and Collins (1991) believe that sections of the production forest might be used to produce stated volumes of particular products or timber varieties under strict government supervision, but that most of the current production forest should be managed for conservation purposes. They see further conversions to meet human needs as inevitable.

Brown and Lugo (1990) have proposed a model of the current land-use changes occurring in the Tropics, from 60- to 80-year-old mature forests, through 20- to 30-year-old logged forests and forest fallow under shifting cultivation, usually less than 20 30 years old, to a final stage of permanent agriculture with pasture or crops. All stages are seen as reversible, at least to the one immediately preceding, while it is also possible to omit steps in the deforestation sequence. When that happens, however, the unique goods and services available to people from the missed steps are lost. The authors have advocated a mix of ecosystems, with particular attention to management of the secondary and plantation forests, in which there has been little research to date. Each stage in the hypothetical sequence is also regarded as sustainable in itself, in that the movement through the stages may be retarded for several cycles or indefinitely, depending on the intrinsic value of that particular forest or location (Brown and Lugo, 1990).

These ideas, invoking more flexible and site-specific management, are increasingly being advocated by authoritative advisers to regional governments (FAO/GOI, 1990; IIED/GOI, 1985; MOF/FAO, 1991; World Bank, 1990a). They are more difficult to implement than universally applicable regulations which take no account of a real differentiation and local advantage, but after the three decades of exploitation in the 1960s-1980s, the variation now existing in South-East Asia's forests is enormous. More flexible management strategies make possible a greater participatory role for local communities.

Such an increase in community involvement is advocated by Poffenberger (1990a). He warns, however, that a simple transfer of rights and responsibilities to the people is unlikely to be spontaneously successful, as traditional ways of regulating access and distributing resources may have become ineffective with changed circumstances, while immigrants will not have this background. He argues instead for joint management between local groups and forestry departments, with development of mutually acceptable rules and procedures. Time, however, is becoming increasingly critical, as continued forest degradation and resource-base impoverishment reduce the options for remedial action. There is no doubt that resolution of the human-forest 'problem', so often passed over in favour of merely technical approaches, is the key to the future of the forests. Without answers to the human questions, technical solutions will have little chance of success.

Notes on co-operative management


ONE of the most important issues in contemporary South-East Asia is the future of forests. Potter has done an excellent job of introducing the reader to the nature of the forest resource and outlining salient issues. She addresses the differences between indigenous people who have practiced swidden agriculture for centuries and immigrants who have only recently begun to practice swidden and, no doubt, have caused greater forest degradation. On population growth, she cites experts who claim that population growth is the driving force behind deforestation as well as those who claim that population growth is not relevant. In terms of the political economy, she recognizes the role of land tenure and the different interests behind land-tenure reforms in determining forest-management policy. Finally, the role of commercial interest in the continued exploitation of this resource is discussed.

While these issues are relevant, this author is less enthusiastic about the proposition of 'apportioning blame'. It is important to note that there are at least two views of each of these issues: the view of the local people who live in or near the forests and use these resources on a daily basis, and that of the national governments that claim these resources as public property to be protected and managed for the good of the nation. Indigenous swiddeners claim ancestral rights to use this land according to techniques that have sustained their forefathers for centuries. National governments, however, see burned forests on supposedly public land and consider swiddening to be a practice of illegal squatters. Likewise, it is fairly well demonstrated (at least in the Philippines) that national governments have an interest in undercounting the number of forest dwellers (Cruz, 1986a). It is easier to deny the rights of forest dwellers if forests are thought to be sparsely populated and, in many areas, still available for distribution to landless lowland farmers.

It is important to recognize the different interests of the actors in this drama. In Java, for example, the State Forest Corporation (Perum Perhutani) is implementing a socialforestry project on state forest lands. This project provides local residents with incentives for planting and protecting a range of tree species on such land. After observing this programme for several years, this writer feels that the corporation's underlying goal is 'territorial control'. The corporation is interested in the productive and sustainable management of the land, but their bottom line is clear delineation and recognition of their ownership of state forest land. This explains why the corporation is ready to endanger successful programmes in the fight for a clear definition of property rights. On the other hand, the underlying objectives of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with this programme are the twin goals of equity and participation of local people. To the extent that equity implies an ownership right to the land, this aim puts the NGOs in direct conflict with the corporation. But even when the NGOs do not push for land ownership, equity and participation are difficult objectives for a forestry agency to implement.

If the underlying problem of forest management in South-East Asia is the conflict between the people who use forest lands and national forest departments interested in the control and exploitation of this resource for the national good, then successful forest management becomes a question of developing models for co-operative management. To their credit, South-East Asian governments are perhaps more involved in developing such methods than those of any other region in the world. The example of the State Forest Corporation in Java has already been cited. This co-operation is based on contracts between the corporation and forest-farmer groups that define the rights and responsibilities of both partners. Similar types of contractual relationships have been developed in West Bengal and Harayana states in India (Gupta, 1991 ; Roy. 1991 ).

Thailand and the Philippines provide stewardship certificates to forest dwellers who can prove they have resided on forest lands since before a given date. These certificates provide individuals and communities with the right to use and occupy the land for a set number of years, and cannot be sold or used as collateral. The Philippines also otters Forest Lease Management Agreements (FLMA) to families. communities or incorporated groups. Holders of an FLMA may harvest, process, sell, or otherwise utilize the products grown on forest land covered by the agreement for a given period of time. Another community-based programme, the Community Forestry Management Agreements (CFMA). gives limited rights to upland dwellers to undertake timberharvesting operations. Finally, the Philippines has established regional and provincial task forces to delineate ancestral domains. These task forces seek to define the boundaries through ground survey, and in the process, identify the specific indigenous cultural communities that have rights to these areas as their traditional territories. These groups can then be issued Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (Gasgonia, 1991).

There are of course many problems that will have to be overcome if cooperative forest-management programmes are to be successful. Gaps divide the government bureaucracies and community organizations which control and manage or abuse forest resources. To overcome these problems, bridges need to be built. Government bureaucracies and community organizations need to understand the problems that separate them and seek workable solutitons to these problems. The role of the outsider (the NGO, the development agent and the academic) is to help these organizations develop their capacity for addressing the problems.

Research and experimentation are needed into both the problems and the solutions. This research must be built on observation, guided interviews, timeliness and informed interpretation, and give attention to the processes unfolding rather than dwell on the final results. This may mean that as many, or more, projects may fail than succeed. Gradually, however, methods for restructuring forestry agencies, for soliciting community participation and for designing appropriate forest policies and legislation will begin to emerge.

(introductory text...)

Editorial comment


TROPICAL forests are a universal asset, and to talk about an 'onslaught' upon them is distressing to a forester. On the one hand, to the people of 33 developing countries, they provide valuable export income needed for development. They supply energy for cooking and heating for almost 2.5 billion people, and food, security and livelihood for some 200 million forest dwellers. They are essential to the quality of the earth's atmosphere. On the other hand, they are the locus of more than half the world's biodiversity, and this is of value to everyone, and a loss to all when it is reduced. When cut down or burned, forests become a source of carbon-dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and their destruction diminishes the natural carbon sinks. Reduction deprives forest dwellers of their food security. Between these competing claims for attention, there is, however, a need for the right perspective on the role of the tropical countries in the damage being done to the world's remaining forest lands.

Table 5.6 provides informative and comparative data to help place these issues in perspective. The area under forest remains much larger in Indonesia and Malaysia than in the developed countries listed, even though the rates of loss are now greater; they were not so in the historical past. Roundwood production is much higher in the United States than in any of the South-East Asian countries, and about as large in Germany as in the Philippines and Malaysia. Reforestation is greater in the Philippines than in the United Kingdom or France. In these comparisons, the developing countries of South-East Asia do not, in general, compare poorly with the developed countries of Western Europe and the United States. Moreover, even including the 1982-3 events, Borneo lost less than one-fifth of the amount of forest that the United States lost to fire during 1973-86.

The ranking of countries by greenhouse gas emissions (WRI, 1990) shows Indonesia in ninth rank, and Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia in eighteenth, twentysixth and thirty-seventh rank respectively. On a per capita basis, Australia's contribution is tar higher than any of these South-East Asian countries, and the real polluters are all in the industrialized lands.

None the less, the need for sustainable management of the forests is not denied. South-East Asian countries participate in international conventions designed to reduce damage not only to the forests but also to the global environment. A great deal of progress towards improvement in forest management is being made.

TABLE 5.6 Land Area under Forest Cover. 1981, 1986 and 1989: Roundwood Production, 1985-1987; and Average Annual Reforestation in the 1980s, by Country


Land under Forest Cover
(percentage of total)

Annual Roundwood Production ('000 m³)

Annual Average Reforestation ('000 hectares)

Country 1981 1986 1989 1985-7 1980s
United States 31.0 98.9 28.3 485760 1 775
Germany 30.0 30.0 29.5 31 583 62
Australia 13.9 13.9 13.5 19907 62
Netherlands n.a. 8.0 8.0 1 118 2
United Kingdom n.a. 9.0 5.7 5 082 40
France n.a. 26.6 26.6 39 890 51
Belgium n.a. 21.0 21.0 3 376 19
Denmark n.a. 11.4 11.2 2 236 n.a.
Malaysia 66.0 60.0 57.8 32 000 25
Indonesia 75.0 72.5 60.0 158 075 164
Philippines 31.0 24.5 21.5 35 822 63
Thailand 47.0 35.0 28.0 36 900 31

Sources: Wan Razali ( 1990): WRI ( 1990).

Editorial comment

These comments make clear the extent to which tropical deforestation has become a political issue, generating sharp reactions in some of the region's countries. However, the political questions were not, in the main, taken up by South-East Asian discussants who followed Jefferson Fox and Wan Razali. There was concern with internal questions, such as the effect of logging roads-built for outsiders, not the forest people-on the extension of cultivation, on heavier exploitation of forest produce and on land speculation' now significant along roads in Central Kalimantan.


THE potential consequences of predicted global climatic change hang over all prospects for sustainable development as a threat that cannot be measured, and worse still it cannot be ignored either. More immediately, rainfall variability is increasingly seen not only as a factor of considerable significance in agricultural production but also as important in forest ecology. South-East Asia is strongly affected by variability arising from extremes in the Southern Oscillation. At the time of the Yogyakarta conference in May 1991, large parts of it, including Java, were entering a new period of drought from this cause. Had the conference been held a few months later, this event and its consequences might have been quite prominent in the discussions.

The two questions are linked, because the future behaviour of the Oscillation through a period of more rapid global warming is an unknown-as important in its potential consequences as the warming itself except, principally, in coastal areas that will be grievously impacted by rising levels of the sea. As shall be seen, the probability is that variability due to the Oscillation will continue, and the possibility is that its intensity may change at both extremes. At a later meeting in Bangkok in 1991, Nicholls developed this argument by logic from what is known about the phenomenon and its history, but it was added in discussion that new climate models suggest an increase in intensity is more likely and, moreover, that it could lead to lower soil moisture in the Indonesian/Australian region.

The three chapters in this part of the book address these issues. In Chapter 6, Henderson-Sellers writes a spirited and informative account of all that can be said about the consequences of global warming for South-East Asia. Using principally the somewhat equivocal results of the General Circulation Models, she attempts to extract elements of a regional consensus. Her firmest conclusion is that the state of knowledge is still too imperfect to draw conclusions at regional level.

She is followed in Chapter 7 by Nicholls on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation extremes and their effects. Nicholls has several times demonstrated the close relationship between variability in the east and north of Australia and that in the Indonesian region. He draws on material from both areas, especially on the biological consequences of the exceptional dry and wet events that arise. He demonstrates the need to make use of unconventional data in establishing a historical and continuing pattern, and in discovering unexpected outcomes.

Chapter 8, by Yoshino, deals specifically with the effects of climatic variability and change on agriculture, drawing on case material from Sri Lanka and Hainan as well as South-East Asia; he offers a general model of the flow of climatic change impacts through resource-use systems.

Four discussants addressed these three papers, and three of them provided substantial additional information of great interest. In edited form, they are reproduced following the substantive chapters.

(introductory text...)

Human-induced climatic change
Predicted climatic changes: The global view
Climate model predictions and the south-east Asian region
Uncertainties and unknowns


Human-induced climatic change

THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports represent a current and state-of-the-art review of the issue of human-induced climatic change (Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums, 1990; IPCC, 1990; Tegart, Sheldon and Griffiths, 1990). The Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment (hereafter cited as the IPCC Scientific Report) asserts: that we are certain that there is a natural greenhouse effect operating on the earth; that we are certain that emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, chloro-fluorocarbons and nitrous oxide and that these increases will cause an additional warming of the earth's surface; that current models predict a 1°C increase in temperature, above 1990 temperatures, by 2025 and a 3 °C increase in temperature by 2100; and that we can calculate with confidence that immediate reductions of over 60 per cent would achieve atmospheric stabilization at a level which would be achieved by the doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) over pre-industrial levels by 2100 (IPCC Policymakers' Summary, 1990).

The Climate Change: The IPCC Impacts Assessment (hereafter cited as the IPCC Impacts Report) (Tegart, Sheldon and Griffiths, 1990) contends that natural, terrestrial ecosystems forced to migrate poleward or to higher elevation may be unable to do so, because of lack of available routes and/or because of the speed of the human-induced changes to climate. Global food production can be maintained at the same level as would be possible without greenhouse-induced warming, but the costs of maintaining that food productivity are unclear. The IPCC Impacts Report also indicates that declining food productivity may occur in regions which are already highly vulnerable to climatic, economic and other stresses and, as a result, changes in patterns of world agricultural trade are likely.

The Climate Change: The IPCC Response Strategies (IPCC, Working Group 3, 1991) asserts that the potentially serious consequences of climatic change are sufficient reasons to begin adopting response strategies immediately, especially those that can also be justified on other grounds, even in the face of significant uncertainties. These suggested response strategies include increasing efficiency in energy supply and energy end use, and a review of energy pricing, agricultural practices, sustainable forest management and reforestation programmes, and the increased use of energy sources with lower or no greenhouse gas emissions.

These three reports were debated and their conclusions agreed during the scientific section of the Second World Climate Conference. They also formed the background to the ministerial section of the same conference. The ministerial statement issued at the end of the Second World Climate Conference in November 1990 called upon the United Nations to initiate negotiations on a framework convention on climatic change. Although such a convention was finally signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, it lacked the specific emissions target which had been sought, or any agreement on the questions of tradable emission quotas, technology transfer and agricultural and forestry practices.

Predicted climatic changes: The global view

The IPCC Consensus

The IPCC Scientific Report offers the best currently available model predictions, indicating a global average temperature increase of 1°C by 2035 and 3 °C by 2100. These predicted increases, based upon the 'business-asusual' emission scenario, are above present-day values, so that by the end of the twenty-first century it is anticipated that global average temperatures will be 4 °C higher than their pre-industrial levels. Current numerical climate models indicate that the global hydrological cycle (evaporation, cloud formation and precipitation) will intensify by very roughly 10 per cent (the IPCC range is 3-15 per cent) of present-day values for a 3 4 °C temperature rise. The IPCC 'business-as-usual' emission scenario foresees a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations over pre-industrial levels by about the middle of the twenty-first century.

It is important to recognize that CO2 is often used as a radiative surrogate for all greenhouse gases. Thus, model predictions determined on the basis of 'doubled CO2' are intended to capture the combined warming effects of all the added greenhouse gases. The doubling of 'equivalent CO2' will occur significantly earlier than doubling of CO2 alone. This distinction is unimportant in terms of radiation, but must be recognized because of the different atmospheric lifetimes of the different gases and because CO2 has a direct fertilizing effect on plant growth, while the other greenhouse gases do not.

Globally, then, the concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases will rise, mean temperatures will rise, and precipitation and evaporation will increase. Of these increases, only for CO2 is it possible to presume that changes in local and regional average values are directly equivalent to changes in global average values. This is because atmospheric CO2 is well mixed globally (see, for example, Pearman, 1989).

The global changes in average temperatures, evaporation and precipitation subsume significant latitudinal variations and regional characteristics. It is agreed that the northern high-latitude regions will warm substantially more in autumn and winter than the global average (about an 8 °C increase for a 4 °C global mean warming). This result is induced in part by the ice-albedo feedback effect, but is mitigated in the southern hemisphere by the ocean circulation. On the other hand, Equatorial regions will warm relatively little, probably by only 1-2 °C.

There are a number of consequences of this latitudinally differentiated warming. The first, and most obvious, is that the Equatorial-to-pole temperature gradient will be decreased in the northern hemisphere and, less certainly, in the southern hemisphere. It is this temperature gradient which, in combination with the rotation of the earth, drives the atmospheric circulation. An important consequence of changing atmospheric circulation patterns is that the roughly latitudinal climatic 'belts' will migrate polewards. This will have the effect of expanding the Equatorial region, which is dominated by the Hadley cell circulations, and shifting the mid-latitude depression belts towards the poles. In general, continents will warm faster than the oceans and the mid and high latitudes (especially in the northern hemisphere) will warm more than the Tropics.

Regional changes in climate are virtually impossible to determine with the present generation of numerical climate models, although a few broad statements can be made about the regional implications of the latitudinal and lan/locean shifts described above; for example, most global model simulations indicate that the Asian summer monsoon will intensify. The impacts of the ocean warming itself include rises in the sea level and the possible poleward expansion of the area affected by tropical cyclones. These single-variable regional climatic effects are poorly understood and, as a consequence, combined effects-such as likely changes in soil moisture which depend upon changes in temperature, near-surface humidity, precipitation and (via biospheric feedback) the atmospheric CO2 concentrations-are exceedingly difficult to determine.

The IPCC Scientific Report identified five regions (designated Central North America, Southern Asia, Sahel, Southern Europe and Australia) for which model-based consensus climatic changes for 2030 were constructed. These 'agreed' changes were determined from high-resolution numerical models using the IPCC 'business-as-usual' emission scenario. These scenarios carry the strong caveat that continental averages hide large subcontinental variations. There are no predictions yet available for small areas, such as fractions of Australian states, and territories or countries in the South-East Asian region.

Scientific and other uncertainties underlie the IPCC conclusions. The unknowns include future human behaviour, particularly in regard to rate of use of fossil fuels, forest-management programmes and agricultural practices. In addition, there is considerable uncertainty about the level of impact of technological advances and, still more importantly, of technology transfer from developed to developing nations. The final, and single largest, factor of importance in this discussion is that of human population growth and the relative distribution of that growth among nation-states and between the developed and developing world. Thus, the direct effects of climatic change are not the only causes of impacts and, indeed, may not be as important as the secondary and tertiary disturbances induced by the changes and by the policy responses put in place to counteract them.

Changes in Variability of Temperature and Precipitation

It is not known how variability will change if mean temperatures and mean totals of precipitation increase as indicated in the previous section. Despite this lack of information, it is often asserted that variability will increase as means increase. Since variability is probably more critical (than mean values) to most impact scenarios, it is worth investigating the interrelationship between means and variance. There are a number of ways of considering the changes in variability which are likely to be associated with increases in mean values. These include investigation of statistical relationships, empirical analysis, consideration of the atmospheric circulation which underlies point or regional variations, and the results of numerical climate models.


Arithmetically, there is no change in the variance of a time series of data if the same value is added to all data points, that is, the mean can increase with no change in the variability. If, on the other hand, each data element is multiplied by a factor, the variance will increase by the square of the factor, that is, the same mean change as in the first case can, this time, induce a large increase in variability. Finally, it is important to note that in these two cases, the data series is assumed to be stationary. If a trend in the mean value occurs, the variance must increase. Since the variance is a measure of deviations of individual observations from the mean, when a trend is added to the time series data, later observations will inevitably occur above the mean and earlier observations, below. Thus, moving from a state where all individual observations are equal to the mean (zero variance)-to a state where some observations are below and some above the mean-must increase the variance.

It should be clear that other statistics beyond the mean and variance are also important if the impacts of physical changes of the climate are to be fully assessed; for example, a statistic clearly warranting attention is that of temporal autocorrelation-a measure of the strength of the relationship between adjacent events. If-as seems to be the case for plants and animals, people, energy usage and consumer goods purchases-the occurrence of multiple, similar events (especially extremes) are very much more important than random, individual occurrences, then identification of present-day autocorrelation and estimation of how this statistic may change as means increase would seem to be of considerable importance (Mearns, Katz and Schneider, 1984). Currently there is no statistical information available beyond predictions of mean values and the estimates of variability changes discussed in the following sections.


The appeal to empirical relationships is uncertain, to say the least. Is it true to assert, for example, that hotter places or seasons exhibit larger variabilities? Mearns, Katz and Schneider ( 1984) show the reverse relationship for temperature, that is, a decrease in standard deviation as mean maximum temperatures increase. This inverse relationship also seems, intuitively, applicable to rainfall in the sense that very arid locations suffer large variability in rainfall in combination with very small rainfall totals, whilst very wet locations generally exhibit smaller variability combined with large rainfall totals. The actual variability of temperatures and precipitation, of course, results from physical phenomena such as the occurrence of fronts, baroclinic instability, anticyclonic blocking, inversions and nearby ocean temperatures. Thus, empirical relationships, which hold for the present day, are probably not transferable spatially or to a future warmed world.


The third method of attempting to identify likely changes in variability is to recognize the importance of physical processes, and appeal to the consensus view that the Equator-to-pole temperature gradients are predicted to decrease significantly. In terms of the atmospheric circulation, this decrease might imply a less energetic global circulation and, in particular, less energy in the Rossby wave circulation which dominates the mid-latitude depression belts. This phenomenon could manifest itself as a weakening of highpressure systems and less deep cyclonic disturbances. There are at least two contrary arguments to this hypothesis. The first depends upon another consensus assertion that the global hydrological cycle will intensify. Such an intensification implies larger latent energy release to the atmosphere, as water vapour condenses into cloud droplets and, hence, presumably, an intensification of some aspects of the global circulation. Secondly, the relatively elevated continental temperatures compared with those of the adjacent oceans might also tend to induce more frequent, and more persistent, anticyclonic blocking than is currently the case.


It is, in principle, possible to determine changes in variability from numerical climate model experiments. However, there are a number of factors which must be borne in mind when deriving changes in standard deviations from numerical simulations. First, a much longer simulation is required to establish that changes in standard deviations, as opposed to changes in means, are statistically significant. Most studies undertaken to date use periods of 15 years (or less), which is barely sufficient to establish that the simulated changes in standard deviation are unlikely to have occurred by chance.

Secondly, although the models exhibit a measure of agreement on the larger scales, there is much less agreement at the regional level, especially in the case of precipitation; hence, only the changes in standard deviations on the larger scales can be considered. Finally, the coupled atmosphere-ocean-mixed layer models that are used to derive currently available results do not reproduce the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon which is the main source of interannual variability in the Tropics (cf. Mearns et al., 1990).

One chapter of the IPCC Scientific Report (Mitchell et al., 1990) evaluates currently available model estimates of variability changes as follows: slight indications of reductions in interannual, day-to-day and diurnal range in temperatures, but none statistically significant; indications that interannual variability in precipitation increases where mean precipitation increases, and vice versa; and a consistent increase in the frequency of convective precipitation at the expense of large-scale precipitation (Hansen et al., 1989; Rind, Goldberg and Ruedy, 1989; Wilson and Mitchell, 1987). The only conclusion which can be drawn is that, despite the recognized importance of variability (for example, Parry, 1985), it is not known whether it will increase, decrease or remain the same in a greenhouse-warmed world.

Direct Impacts of CO2 Changes

Even the direct effects of increasing CO2 levels, of rising temperatures and of an intensified hydrological cycle are interdependent and complex. If the increases in atmospheric CO2 (rather than the other greenhouse gases) were occurring without the anticipated changes in climate, then the overall consequences for agriculture would probably be beneficial. A doubling of CO2 is observed to increase the photosynthetic rate by between 30 and 100 per cent, depending on other environmental conditions, especially available moisture, temperature and nutrients. Plant species of the C3 photosynthetic pathway (the first product in their biochemical sequence of reactions has three carbon atoms) tend to respond positively to increased CO2 levels because their photorespiration is suppressed. A detailed examination of 51 records of biomass and marketable yield increases for various C3 species under a doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration (660 ppmv) returned values of 40+7 per cent increase in biomass and 26+9 per cent increase in marketable yield (Warrick, Gifford and Parry, 1986; reported in Parry, 1990). However, in C4 plants the enhanced photosynthetic response to increased levels of CO2 is much less marked.

This difference has major implications for terrestrial ecosystems and for world food production. Plants of the C3 species account for at least 95 per cent of the earth's biomass, and 12 of the world's 15 major crops are in this group. Current global food staples, such as wheat, rice and soya bean, are C3 crops, whereas important C4 semiarid, tropical staples include maize, sorghum, sugar-cane and millet. There is therefore the possibility that direct photosynthetic enhancement induced by raised CO2 levels will benefit temperate and humid tropical agriculture, including that in the South-East Asian region, more than that in the semi-arid Tropics. There is also the possibility that C3 crops may have a further advantage since the majority of the world's most troublesome weed species are C4 plants occurring among C3 crops. Although C4 species account for only about 20 per cent of global food production, one such staple alone, maize, accounts for 14 per cent; it represents 75 per cent of all traded grain, and is currently the major component of food aid offered to famine-stricken areas.

Political pressures are likely to arise as a result of the increasing vulnerability of areas where agricultural production is already limited by climate. Most of this limitation is in developing countries which seem likely to undergo large population expansions in the twenty-first century. Overall, 63 per cent of the land area of developing countries is climatically suited to rainfed agriculture, but this percentage varies considerably between regions. The severest climatic limitations to agriculture are currently found in South-West Asia where 17 per cent of the land is too mountainous and cool and 65 per cent too dry, leaving only 18 per cent as potentially productive (FAO, 1984). Predicting a decline in world food stocks, Liverman (1986) observes that aggravated by climatic change, the likely food deficit would be particularly severe in the South and South-East Asian region. Thus, it appears that climatic change may increase political pressure to assist countries in Southern Asia, which may become increasingly dependent upon food aid, and to assist environmental refugees, particularly from the South-West Pacific (cf. Parry, 1990; Tickell, 1989).

Climate model predictions and the south-east Asian region

Obtaining Information on the South-East Asian Region

The definition of the geographical extent of the South-East Asian region varies with usage. Here, the definition in the Mac quarie Dictionary (1987: definition 1619) of South-East Asia is employed: 'the area which includes Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam', but the other (eastern) half of the island of New Guinea (that is, Papua New Guinea) is added. The IPCC Scientific Report uses two terms for the geographical region extending from 5 to 30 °N and 70 to 105 °E. In Chapter 5, from which the results reported here are taken, this region is termed 'S. E. Asia' (Mitchell et al., 1990: 156-8); whereas in the IPCC Policymakers' Summary (Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums, 1990: xxiv), this same region is, more appropriately, termed 'Southern Asia'. In reference to the IPCC Reports, the latter term is used here. Global climate models have very poor spatial resolution, with typical 'grid elements' of a few degrees in latitude and longitude (that is, 'boxes' 300-500 kilometres on a side). At this resolution, most of the countries of the South-East Asian region are very poorly captured or not represented at all. The IPCC Scientific Report includes a small part of South-East Asia in its selected 'Southern Asia' region, while the northern boundary of 'Australia' just reaches the southernmost parts of Indonesia and New Guinea (Figure 6.1).

FIGURE 6.1 The South-East Asian Region as Defined by the IPCC Scientific Assessment Report

It would be wrong to read the guarded predictions for 'Southern Asia' as representing South-East Asian conditions in the future, since the former region is chosen to be representative of a particular climatological regime; the monsoonal reversal in South-East Asia takes a totally different form to that in Southern Asia, and the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is also important in South-East Asia. Moreover, the spatial resolution of current global climate models is very poor. This can be illustrated in many ways.

In the context of trying to assess likely regional climatic change in the South-East Asian area, one method is to consider the coastline represented in these models and, particularly, the areas of continents and islands that are common to all the models. This means of underlining the problems of poor spatial resolution is illustrated by (forward) reference to Figure 6.4, which shows three different representations of the South-East Asian coastline derived from three 'high-resolution' climate models and to Figure 6.5, which throughout uses a 'coastline' which shows only land areas which are common to all three of these models. The difficulty of poor resolution will be stressed throughout this discussion on likely climatic change in the South-East Asian region.

Modelling Climatic Change for the South-East Asian Region

Table 6.1 lists the scaled assessments of surface air temperature, precipitation and soil moisture changes derived for the IPCC from three high-resolution global climate models: the Canadian Climate Centre (CCC) model, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (USA) (GFHI) model and the UK Meteorological Office (UKHI) model. Note that the term 'high resolution' is used relative to other current global climate models; these three models offer spatial resolutions of approximately 3 '' latitude by 3 ° longitude. The results in Table 6.1 have been scaled to correspond to the IPCC 'best guess' global mean warming of 1.8 °C in 2030 (itself an underestimate of the final warming of 2-5 °C because of the effect of the thermal inertia of the oceans). This scaling is important because, although the three higher-resolution models give better simulations of the present climate and hence, it is hoped, better estimates of regional climates in the future, they also produce warnings which are larger than the overall model consensus achieved by the IPCC and termed 'best guess'. The scaling (by a factor of 1.8//Ts where /Ts is the climate sensitivity of the particular model) is believed to be reasonable, because precipitation and soil moisture changes are proportional to global mean changes in temperatures. These lPCC regional assessments are presented in Table 6.1 for two reasons: (i) to alert South-East Asian nations to the values achieved by these models for the Indian subcontinent; and (ii) in the hope that estimates of climatic change over the countries of the South-East Asian region can be achieved by extrapolating east and north respectively from the IPCC regions of 'Southern Asia' and 'Australia' (cf. Figure 6.1).

TABLE 6.1 IPCC Estimates of Changes in Surface Air Temperature, Precipitation and Soil Moisture from Three High-resolution Global Climate Models with Their Results Scaled to the IPCC 'Best Guess' Scenario

Region Temperature (°C) Precipitation (Percentage Change) Soil Moisture (Percentage Change)
Southern Asia
(5-30 °N, 70 105 °E)
CCC 1 1 -5 5 0 5
GFHI 2 1 0 10 -5 10
UKHI 2 2 15 15 0 5
(12-45°S, 110-155°E)
CCC 1 2 15 0 45 5
GFHI 2 2 5 0 -5 -10
UKHI 2 2 10 0 5 0

Source: Compiled from Mitchell et al. (1990).
Note: DJF = December. January, February; JJA = June, July, August.
a Based on the IPCC definition of the region.

Table 6.1 lists the estimated changes from pre-industrial times to 2030. The only consistencies are in (i) surface air temperature, which rises by between 1 and 2 °C over the IPCC regions termed Southern Asia and Australia; (ii) Australian precipitation, which shows no change in winter (June, July, August (JJA)) and a 5-15 per cent increase in summer (December, January, February (DJF)); (iii) Southern Asian JJA precipitation which increases by 5-15 per cent; and (iv) Southern Asian JJA soil moisture which also increases by 5-10 per cent. The IPCC Scientific Report cautions that for Australia, 'the models do not produce consistent estimates of the changes in soil moisture. The area averages hide large variations at the sub-continental level' (Mitchell et al., 1990: 158).

Recalling that neither of these IPCC regions covers more than a small part of the South-East Asian region, and that the region's climate is affected by the Asian Monsoon, the Australian Monsoon, the seasonal migration of the ITCZ and ENSO events, it is difficult to extrapolate from the IPCC tabulations to the area of interest here, except to say that temperatures might be expected to rise by 1-2 °C. For this reason, maps of surface air temperature, precipitation and soil moisture changes have been constructed for the South-East Asian region from the three sets of high-resolution global model results presented in the IPCC Scientific Report (Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums, 1990). These model simulations of a greenhouse-warmed South-East Asian climate are shown in Figures 6.2 6.4.

Figure 6.2 shows the equilibrium temperatures achieved for a doubled CO2 climate for the South-East Asian region. Temperatures are higher everywhere than in the 1 × CO2 (present-day) simulations. The South-East Asian countries are shown to have temperatures higher by 0-2 °C (CCC model) and 2-4 °C (GFHI and UKHI models). There is a tendency for temperature changes greater than 4 °C to occur to the north of the region of interest. In considering these predicted temperature changes, note that the depicted coastlines are neither exact nor those used in the models themselves, but those of a generic, equal latitude/longitude map used by the IPCC. The models' generalized land/ocean partitioning can be seen in Figure 6.4.

FIGURE 6.2 Model Predicted Surface Air Temperatures for Doubled CO2 ( 10-year means)

FIGURE 6.3 Model Predicted Precipitation Changes for Doubled CO2 ( 10-year means)

The South-East Asian precipitation changes (Figure 6.3) have also been displayed superimposed upon the generic IPCC coastline. There is much less coherence in these patterns than in the predicted temperature changes. Integrating over the region displayed, it is difficult to discern any overall changes and there is very little consistency, either between models or between seasons. The most important features of these maps are the magnitudes of some of the local changes. This is especially clear in Figure 6.3(a) which shows changes of +5 mm/day in oceanic areas to the east of South-East Asia. A similar pattern is also seen in Figure 6.3(c). These large changes in precipitation in the far western tropical Pacific are among the largest in the world in these model simulations in DJF, while in JJA the large changes in precipitation extend west into the Indian Monsoon region, and east across the Pacific.

FIGURE 6.4 Model Predicted Soil Moisture Changes for Doubled CO2 (10-year means)

Soil moisture changes are exceedingly difficult to predict, as they depend upon both precipitation and evaporation, and more crucially on the (relatively poor) parameterizations employed compared to those used for temperature and precipitation (cf. Pitman, Henderson-Sellers and Yang, 1990). None the less, the distributions in Figure 6.4 do exhibit some weak coherency. There is a general tendency for decreases in soil moisture to dominate increases and, at least in the GFHI and UKHI models, for decreases in the east of the mainland/peninsular region to be complemented by increases in the west. The lack of coherency is further complicated by the unmatched distribution of continental areas among the three models.

Consensus Climate Predictions for the South-East Asian Region

In an attempt to overcome some of the differences between the models' representations of the coastline, and between their predictions of future climatic change for the SouthEast Asian region, an agreed set of predictions has been sought. Achieving this agreement involves two stages: first, an agreed coastline was established, which includes only areas designated as land in all three models; and secondly, agreement among the three model predictions was sought. Figure 6.5 identifies the regions of 'agreed land' and of continental soil moisture changes (a) and (b), continental precipitation changes (c) and (d), and land and ocean temperature changes (e) and (f). In unmarked areas, there was no consensus between the three models. These figures summarize the earlier discussions of predicted climatic change in the South-East Asian region: (i) temperatures on the mainland will increase by 2-4 °C and on the islands by 0-4 °C; (ii) precipitation changes on the mainland are highly variable, but the island regions to the south may see increased precipitation; and (iii) soil moisture is very hard to predict but may decrease in some locations on the mainland.

Unfortunately, these ensemble estimates, derived from the three high-resolution climate models used by the IPCC, are of relatively little value for the region. There is little consistency between models, either in their representation of the land areas themselves or in the predictions of climatic changes. These two 'features' are, to some extent, linked since without land/sea contrasts and orography, local and regional climates cannot be captured.

This difficulty is, however, probably much less important for the climatic simulation of the region than, for example, capturing the effects of tropical cyclones and ENSO events. Neither of these crucial features of the climate system are, as yet, adequately simulated in numerical models. Moreover, day-to-day variability changes are still unknown, and although it is generally believed that the intensity of precipitation features, ranging from monsoons to local convection, will increase, there is no confirmation of this hypothesis and there are no estimates of the magnitude of the changes.

FIGURE 6.5 Model Consensus Climate Predictions for South-East Asia

Uncertainties and unknowns

The Effects of the Oceans. Transient Vs. Instanneous Simulations

Attempts to assemble an agreed, or consensus, view of future climatic changes for the South-East Asian region have so far been discussed solely in terms of global (atmosphere plus mixed-layer ocean) numerical model simulations of the equilibrium response to doubling CO2. The estimates have been drawn from the IPCC Scientific Report (Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums, 1990), but this report also quantifies the likely effect of coupling ocean models to atmospheric models, and evaluates the evidence for humaninduced climatic change. Figures 6.6(a) and 6.6(b) compare the predictions of surface air temperature changes for the region, derived from models constructed in two ways. An atmospheric model linked to a mixed-layer ocean model, similar to the models used to construct Figures 6.2-6.4, is used in Figure 6.6(a). This is compared with the simulation from a fully coupled ocean-plus-atmosphere model, running a transient (that is, gradually increasing) CO2 experiment, in Figure 6.6(b). Figures 6.6(a) and 6.6(b) show respectively a 10-year average derived from an equilibrium experiment (that is, instantaneously doubled CO,), and a 20-year average centred on 70 years, which is the point at which CO2 doubles in the transient simulation.

FIGURE 6.6 Comparisons of (a) Predictions of 10-year Mean Equilibrium Temperature Increases Simulated by an Atmospheric Model Linked to a Simple Mixed-layer Ocean Model: (b) the Temperatures Averaged over the 20-year Period of a Transient Simulation Using a Coupled Atmosphere-Plus-Ocean Circulation Model in which the CO, Reached Doubled Control Values; and (c) the Observed Surface Temperatures for the 1980s Plotted as Anomalies from the 1951-1980 Averages

The main features of Figures 6.6(a) and 6.6(b) are common to the global means when comparisons are undertaken between transient and equilibrium simulations. For a steadily increasing forcing, the rise in temperature is a (roughly constant) fraction of the equilibrium rise. Temperatures simulated in the transient coupled atmosphere-ocean models correspond approximately to those derived in the instantaneous experiment, but for a time that is earlier by a fixed offset period. Bretherton, Bryan and Woods (1990) assert that regional patterns of temperature and precipitation change generally resemble those of an equilibrium simulation for an atmospheric model, but are uniformly reduced in magnitude. These results are consistent with the current understanding of ocean circulation and sequestration of heat.

Thus, coupling a fully three-dimensional ocean model to the atmospheric model-used to generate the results considered in the preceding section- dampens the warming. Examining the results from a 'snapshot' taken from a 100-year transient experiment increases confidence in the equilibrium (instantaneous doubling) data assembled in discussing the model predictions for the region.

Confidence in Estimates and Observations

Numerical climate models predict that the human-induced greenhouse effect will cause: (i) the lower atmosphere and the earth's surface to warm; and (ii) the stratosphere to cool. The surface warming and its seasonal variation are expected to be smallest in the Tropics. The models also predict that surface air will warm faster over land than over oceans, and that a minimum of warming will occur around Antarctica and in the northern North Atlantic. The IPCC Scientific Report cautions, however, that 'our confidence in the prediction of the detail of regional changes is low.... There are less consistent predictions for the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere' (Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums, 1990: xi).

The Report therefore merely cautions its potential users about some important uncertainties which have major effect on impacts; for example, a modest increase in the mean temperature could, assuming no change in variability, imply that the number of hot days will increase, and that there will be fewer frosty nights. However, shifts in largescale weather systems, such as the mid-latitude depressions and anticyclones and the intensification of monsoons, are likely to affect the variability of weather at particular locations as well as mean values. At present, tropical cyclones are known to develop only over oceans that are warmer than about 26 °C. Numerical models predict that the area of sea with temperatures above this critical value will be enlarged. However, Houghton, Jenkins and Ephraums (1990: xxv) note that 'the critical temperature itself may increase in a warmer world ... [while] climate models give no consistent indication whether tropical storms will increase or decrease in frequency or intensity as climate changes; neither is there any evidence that this has occurred over the past few decades'.

It is interesting to compare the predicted temperature changes with the observed temperature rises over the 1980s. Figure 6.6(c) shows the 1980 9 surface air temperatures for the South-East Asian region plotted as anomalies from the 1951-80 average temperatures. The data are composites of land and ocean observations of surface air and sea surface temperatures, as described in Folland, Karl and Vinnikov (1990). Global distributions of 1980s anomalies show temperature increases greater than 0.75 °C over some areas of the northern hemisphere continents. The South-East Asian region, however, shows, on average, only about 0.25 °C temperature increase. This is in keeping with the numerical model predictions that the northern high latitudes will warm more than the tropical regions. The observed temperature variations (Figure 6.6(c)), at least in the 1980s in the region, seem to be opposite in distribution to the predictions (Figures 6.6(a) and 6.6(b)), with the greatest observed temperature anomalies occurring in the central part of the region, while smaller or no temperature increases are observed in the north.

This comparison is, of course, for one decade only and serves mainly to underline the fact that temperatures throughout the 1980s were high around the globe; the South-East Asian region was no exception. These observations of the 'warmest decade on record' have been seen by many as the first detection of humanity's additional greenhouse warming.

Climatic change and public policy


BOTH Chapters 6 and 7 are basically related and are therefore equally relevant in terms of policy response considerations. The comments here are more apposite to the first of these chapters, but they do not refer to the detailed climatology discussed by HendersonSellers. They focus mainly on matters pertaining to policy responses-an issue which is raised in both chapters but not treated in any detail. However, with regard to sea-level rise, Tjia (1989), using more than 150 radiometrically dated shoreline indicators, suggested that actual sea level within the South-East Asian region is expected to decline in the near future at rates between 1.5 and 2.0 millimetres per year. This decline is expected to compensate for the projected 20-centimetre rise in sea level due to the greenhouse effect so that the net rise by 2025 will only be between 13 and 15 centimetres. Further, it is interesting to note that a number of the observations made in Chapter 7 have been similarly observed by the Malaysian Meteorological Service, and they were reported in its Technical Reports (Cheang, 1990; Quah, 1984, 1988).

It is evident that a great deal of work is needed not only to document the exact influence of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon in South-East Asia but also to improve the existing climate models. Consideration of the more important climatic features like tropical cyclones, monsoons and ENSO events which have so much influence on the region's weather is especially important.

It is doubtful that anyone would dispute the views expressed about the generally poor climate predictability in the region. Detailed and accurate predictions on the magnitude of climatic change at regional and local levels are not possible on the basis of the state of knowledge in the early 1990s, and it will take a long time yet before precise predictions can be achieved in this part of the world. However, it is important to note that the governments of at least some South-East Asian countries are aware of global climatic change and its likely implications on human activities. They are making efforts to improve understanding of the nature and mechanisms of regional climate, evidence of climatic change, the likely climate scenario given a doubling of CO2 by 2030, the impact of such a climate scenario on agriculture, water resources, coastal and marine resources and policy options.

Detailed features of the generated scenarios may be somewhat exaggerated, or even underestimated, but they are nevertheless useful first approximations upon which policies and strategies can be based. Such policies can gradually be refined as more information becomes available. One good effort towards such an objective is reflected in a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) project on 'SocioEconomic Impacts and Policy Responses Resulting from Climate Change: A Regional Study in Southeast Asia'. While this project is probably not going to be the answer to prayers regarding climatic change, it is certainly a step in the right direction. The UNEP project was jointly undertaken in 1989 by Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The objectives of the project were to generate the climate scenario, assuming a doubling of CO2 by 2030; to assess the impact of such a scenario on some important activity sectors; and to select appropriate policies and strategies in order to respond to future climatic change.

TABLE 6.2 Examples of Climatic Change Impacts

  1. Rice yield decreases by 12-22 per cent, but may be offset by CO2 increases.
  2. Maize production is not significantly affected. It is more sensitive to solar radiation changes.
  3. Palm-oil yield will be affected if dry seasons and several months of reduced sunshine occur.
  4. The limitation to rubber cultivation is negligible if temperature increases by only 2 °C. A 3-15 per cent decrease will occur if there is increased drought. A rainfall increase of 10 per cent can cause a 13 per cent decrease in yield.
  5. In the Kelantan River basin, an increase of flood peaks and duration is forecast. A 30-35 per cent increase in water deficits in the dry season can also be anticipated.

Source: Condensed from Chong (1990).

TABLE 6.3 Examples of Possible Policy Responses

Agriculture and Water Resources

  1. Breeding new crop varieties.
  2. Maintenance of broad genetic base.
  3. Policy on more efficient control and use of water resources.
  4. Review policy on subsidies; possible increase in subsidies.
  5. Encourage more intensive agriculture; reduce land fragmentation.
  6. Diversification of employment opportunities among farmers.
  7. Awareness programmes for planners and project implementors.
  8. Comprehensive monitoring programme regarding climate change.
  9. Water resource use and management policy-priority of water use; water pricing; water regulation and distribution.

Coastal Resources

  1. Review existing structural measures to prevent erosion.
  2. Relocation of population and important infrastructural facilities from areas likely to suffer immediate inundation.
  3. Monitoring and assessment.

Source: As for Table 6.2.

In Malaysia, as a result of the project, a number of interesting prognostications have now become available with regard to climatic change. Tables 6.2 and 6.3 provide examples.

(introductory text...)

The El Niño-southern oscillation
ENSO and south-east Asia
Effects of ENSO on climate
Impacts of ENSO
ENSO in the past and future
Future work



THE El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects the climate, natural vegetation and wildlife, agriculture, human health and economies of many of the countries bordering the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Because of its pervasive influence on many aspects of life, it needs to be considered in discussions of sustainable development. There have been instances where ignorance of its effects has led to land degradation or long-term vegetation changes. It has implications for the health of the population in the areas it affects and these also need to be considered.

The influence of ENSO on South-East Asia has not yet been comprehensively mapped. It has an important and well-documented role in controlling the interannual climatic variations of Indonesia, but much work remains to be done to determine its climatic effects and its ecological, environmental, social and economic impacts elsewhere in the region. Throughout this chapter, therefore, examples of its effects and impacts will be taken from other areas, especially Australia and New Guinea (Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea) (from where extensive documentation of the phenomenon and its effects are available), to supplement information from South-East Asia. The relevance of ENSO, and this chapter, to sustainable development in South-East Asia, varies over the region. These variations depend on the strength of the phenomenon's influence in different parts and also on the use of the area by the local population.

The El Niño-southern oscillation

Variations in climate from year to year appear at first glance to be random. Examination of historical data, however, reveals a coherent global pattern of oceanic and atmospheric fluctuations called the Southern Oscillation. Extreme anomalies in this pattern involve dislocations of rainfall distribution in the Tropics, bringing drought to some regions and torrential rains to others (Ropelewski and Halpert, 1987, 1989). These anomalies typically last about a year. Related anomalies of the atmospheric circulation extend high into the atmosphere and polewards into the temperate zones, especially in the southern hemisphere.

FIGURE 7.1 Circulation during an El Niño Phase

FIGURE 7.2 Circulation during a La Nina Phase

FIGURE 7.3 Southern Oscillation Index (monthly means)

Some major changes in the ocean currents and temperatures are also related to the Oscillation. The best known of these is the El Niño, a marked temperature increase that occurs every few years in the eastern Equatorial Pacific with catastrophic effects on marine ecosystems along the west coast of the Americas. Because El Niño usually occurs with an extreme anomaly in the Oscillation, the two phenomena are often referred to jointly as 'El Niño-Southern Oscillation' or 'ENSO'. Periods with very warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the eastern Equatorial Pacific, and the global pattern of climatic anomalies that usually accompany this warm water, are referred to as El Niño events. A major El Niño event occurred in 1982-3 with severe droughts in Australia, Indonesia, parts of Africa, and India. A schematic of the atmospheric circulation during an El Niño is provided in Figure 7.1.

During the other extreme of the Oscillation, the eastern Equatorial Pacific is cold (a phenomenon now called 'La Nina') and heavy rainfall and flooding is observed over the areas usually affected by drought during El Niño events. (See Figure 7.2 for a schematic depiction of a La Nina.) Heavy rainfall in India, Africa and Australia during 1988 was associated with a La Nina event. The dislocations in rainfall distribution associated with El Niño and La Nina events mean that the areas affected tend to have more variable rainfall than is the case elsewhere.

ENSO is the result of interactions between the tropical oceans (especially the Pacific) and the atmosphere. The detailed form of this interaction is yet to be determined. Major research programmes aimed at modelling it are under way. Models of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere, apparently capable of reproducing and predicting some aspects of the phenomenon, have been developed (Barrett et al., 1988). A model capable of a realistic simulation of the complete phenomenon, however, has yet to be developed.

There is often confusion about the terminology used in discussions. El Niño events are just one extreme of the quasi-cyclic ENSO phenomenon. La Nina events are the other extreme. These are illustrated in Figure 7.3 which shows monthly values of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). This index, which reflects the behaviour of ENSO, is the standardized difference in pressure between Tahiti and Darwin. El Niño events occur when the SOI is at large negative values; La Nina events occur at large positive values. The SOI fluctuates quasi-periodically; the nature of this fluctuation is discussed below.

ENSO and south-east Asia

The relationship between Indonesian rainfall and the Southern Oscillation has been documented many times this century (Berlage, 1927; Nicholls, 1981; Quinn et al., 1978; Rasmusson and Carpenter, 1982). Braak (1919,1921-9) and Berlage (1927, 1934) demonstrated that rainfall during the early part of the Indonesian wet season (SeptemberDecember) was significantly related to the Oscillation. Abnormally low atmospheric pressure at Darwin (an indication that ENSO is in its 'cold' La Nina phase) usually signals an early start to the wet. Nicholls (1973) showed that droughts in New Guinea often coincided with El Niño episodes. Quinn et al. (1978) confirmed the relationship between ENSO and Indonesian rainfall, pointing out that droughts during the 'dry' season of easterly surface winds (May-November) usually coincided with El Niño events. Figure 7.4 shows a composite of Indonesian rainfall anomalies before, during and after El Niño episodes. The effect of El Niño events on Indonesian rainfall is substantial enough to be observable in tree rings (Murphy and Whetton, 1989). Barry (1978) and Wright, Mitchell and Wallace (1985) showed that cloudiness over parts of South-East Asia was reduced during El Niño events.

The pattern of Indonesian and New Guinea rainfall fluctuations was reexamined, using more extensive data, by Ropelewski and Halpert (1987, 1989). Their earlier work (1987) demonstrated that 80 per cent of the El Niño events from 1879 to 1982 were accompanied by below average rainfall between June and November. In their 1989 paper, they found that 90 per cent of La Niña episodes were abnormally wet in Indonesia and New Guinea between July and December. Allen, Brookfield and Byron (1989), examining earlier nineteenth-century data, found that several El Niño events (notably 1877-8, 1864 and 1804) were associated with Indonesian drought. Kiladis and Diaz (1989) composited temperature and precipitation records during El Niño and La Niña events, which showed that most of South-East Asia in the period September-May during El Niño events was warmer than for the same seasons during La Niña events. Significant precipitation anomalies were only evident over Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Figure 7.5 is a composite of Singapore rainfall during El Niño and La Niña episodes. It illustrates that rainfall is usually higher during La Niña episodes, as is the case also over much of Indonesia.

FIGURE 7.4 El Niño Composite Precipitation for Seven Indonesian Stations

Singapore rainfall during El Niño and La Niña episodes

Rasmusson and Carpenter (1982), analysing surface winds during El Niño events, found a weakened north-east monsoon circulation over the Philippines around the end of the calendar year during an El Niño. Wind anomalies at other times through the El Niño were weak and variable. The weak monsoon probably accounts for the finding by Ropelewski and Halpert ( 1987) that the Philippine precipitation signal associated with an El Niño was low rainfall between October and May, at the end of the event; whereas in Indonesia, rainfall was most suppressed during June-November.

The evidence available does indicate that ENSO influences the climate of much of South-East Asia. In the following section, the characteristics of climatic variations induced by the phenomenon are discussed. ENSO leads to quite different patterns of climatic anomalies across the areas it affects. These climate patterns should be considered when sustainable development strategies are being developed.

Effects of ENSO on climate

Rainfall Fluctuatians

The best known characteristic of ENSO is the tendency for rainfall anomalies to appear in many areas at about the same time. Thus, droughts in India, North China, Australia and parts of Africa and the Americas tend to occur approximately simultaneously (Ropelewski and Halpert, 1987; Williams, Adamson and Baxter, 1986). The review in the previous section indicates that droughts tend also to occur over at least parts of South-East Asia during El Niño episodes. At the same time, unusually heavy rainfall occurs in the central and east Pacific. These 'teleconnections', although interesting, are less important to specific regions than some other characteristics of ENSO, but all areas are likely to experience some of the characteristics. These areas should include the parts of South-East Asia affected by the phenomenon, although little work has so far been done to verify this.

High Variability

One feature of rainfall fluctuations in areas influenced by ENSO is a large interannual variability. Conrad (1941) examined the dependence of interannual rainfall variability on the long-term mean annual rainfall. He found that a function relating relative variability (defined as the mean of the absolute deviations of annual rainfalls from the long-term mean, expressed as a percentage of the long-term mean) to the long-term mean precipitation fitted his data closely. The relative variability decreased, in general, as the mean precipitation increased. Over some large areas, however, the relative variability deviated in a consistent way from the global relationship with mean rainfall.

Some of these deviations were due to the influence of the ENSO phenomenon on rainfall. Nicholls (1988a), using Conrad's data, found that the relative variability was typically one-third to one-half higher for stations in areas affected by ENSO compared with stations with the same mean rainfall in areas not so affected.

Nicholls and Wong (1990) confirmed, using post-1950 data and the coefficient of variation as a measure of relative variability, that ENSO does amplify rainfall variability in the areas it affects, relative to elsewhere. This effect was strongest at low latitudes and low rainfalls and so is especially relevant to semi-arid areas in the Tropics and subTropics. The amplification factor is substantial. The variance of annual rainfall in an area strongly affected by the Southern Oscillation might be, depending on latitude and mean rainfall, more than double that in an area with similar mean rainfall not influenced by the Oscillation. Further work needs to be done to examine the variability not just on an annual basis but in the seasons most affected by the phenomenon.


The large-scale nature of ENSO means that wide areas suffer from the same rainfall anomaly at the same time. In Australia, for instance, much of the central and eastern parts is usually in drought during an El Niño event. The same tendency should also apply in Indonesia. Droughts will be greater in scale than might be expected without the influence of ENSO. These large spatial scales, relative to the droughts in regions not affected, may complicate the measures for providing drought relief and imply that similar pressures on the environment will be exerted across much of the country at the same time.


In most parts of the world, it is assumed that the duration of droughts or wet periods are random variables. This is not the case where ENSO is experienced. Droughts, and pluvial or wet periods, tend to last about 12 months or so in these areas (Ropelewski and Halpert, 1987). El Niño and La Nina events also last about 12 months (Rasmusson and Carpenter, 1982) and this sets the time-scale of the rainfall fluctuations. This long life cycle is clear in Figure 7.3 which shows monthly SOI values from 1970 to 1989. The El Niño and La Nina events are marked. There is a clear tendency for them to last about 12 months.

Figure 7.6 shows the monthly rainfall anomalies at Jakarta for 1976-80. The monthly values of the SOI are also plotted on the figure. There was a strong El Niño in 1977-8, represented by the negative SOI values. (SOI values are unavailable for the first six months of 1977.) Jakarta rainfall was consistently below average from May 1977 to February 1978. This extended period of drought is typical of the situation during an El Niño. Similarly, during a La Nina, substantial rains tend to occur for about 12 months in the areas around the western edge of the Pacific that are affected by ENSO.

Phase-locking to Annual Cycle

These extended periods of drought or heavy rain do not occur randomly over time, in relation to the annual cycle, as demonstrated by Figures 7.3-7.6 and the results of Ropelewski and Halpert (1987) and many others. In fact, the ENSO phenomenon, and rainfall fluctuations associated with it, are phase-locked with the annual cycle (that is, they tend to recur at the same time of the year). The heavy rainfall of a La Nina tends to start early in the calendar year and finish early in the following year. The dry periods associated with El Niño events usually occupy a similar time period (see, for example, Figure 7.4). This means that if an extensive drought or wet period is well established by the middle of the calendar year, it is unlikely to 'break' until at least early the following year. The 1982-3 Indonesian drought provides another example. The drought started about April 1982 and lasted until at least January 1983. Such phase-locking has been found in most other variables associated with ENSO (Rasmusson and Carpenter, 1982).


This phase-locking is related to a biennial cycle which is a fundamental element of ENSO variability (Rasmusson, Wang and Ropelewski, 1990). There is also a lower-frequency variation, but it is the biennial mode which captures the major features associated with El Niño and La Nina episodes. The biennial cycle is observed over the Equatorial Pacific and Indian Oceans and is itself phase-locked with the annual cycle. It varies in amplitude from cycle to cycle and sometimes changes phase. Nicholls (1979, 1984) discussed how ocean-atmosphere interaction around Indonesia, modulated by the seasonal cycle, could result in a biennial cycle phase-locked to the annual cycle.

FIGURE 7.6 Monthly Rainfall Anomalies at Jakarta, 1976 1980

The biennial mode means that El Niño events will often be preceded and/or followed by La Niñas and vice-versa. In terms of rainfall, this means that year-to-year changes in rainfall can be extreme. Change from El Niño-related drought to La Nina and pluvial conditions can be rapid, and it usually occurs early in the calendar year. An El Niño-related drought in 1925 in Indonesia, for instance, was followed by three months (January-March 1926) of about double the average rainfall in Jakarta. The descent into drought can also be rapid. In Jakarta, the 1902 El Niño was accompanied by a drought which started after three months (December-February) of well above average rainfall. Each of the next 10 months received well below average rainfall.


The amplified climatic variability induced by ENSO and the temporal patterns of the variations leads to different distributions of extreme climatic events, compared with other areas with a more benign climate. Obviously, droughts and floods will be more severe in the ENSO-affected areas, including, presumably, South-East Asia. The biennial nature of ENSO, however, means that floods can quickly follow droughts. In Australia, such rapid changes from drought to flood have resulted in unanticipated failures of earth dams (Ingles, 1990). In other areas, such 'rare' events as heavy rains are considered to occur randomly in time, so the likelihood of 'pairing' a drought and a flood within a short time is considered highly unlikely. In Australia, and probably in many areas affected by the biennial nature of ENSO, this is not a reasonable assumption. These areas need to identify the frequency distributions of extreme events and consider the possibility that pairs or even clusters of 'rare' events might not be as rare as is the case in regions with more benign climates. Statistical models for extreme events developed in areas not affected by ENSO should be treated with some suspicion.

Winds and Temperatures

Rainfall is not the only aspect of the climate influenced by ENSO. Kiladis and Diaz (1989) reported increased temperatures throughout South-East Asia during El Niño events, relative to La Niña episodes. Figure 7.7 shows composite mean monthly temperatures in Singapore during El Niño and La Nina years (and the preceding and following years). Long-term mean temperatures are also shown. Cooler temperatures are evident from about May in the year before the El Niño through to about April of the El Niño year. From December onwards, temperatures are higher in the El Niño years and the following year, relative to the long-term mean and the La Nina years. A similar pattern could be expected throughout much of the region according to the results presented. Figure 7.7 also indicates the phase-locking to the annual cycle that is evident in temperature as well as rainfall anomalies.

The lack of cloud cover over parts of South-East Asia, such as Indonesia, during El Niño events suggests that increased radiational cooling at these times might lead to decreased minimum temperatures. Allen (1989) and Allen, Brookfield and Byron (1989) reported a tendency for frosts in the New Guinea highlands to be more severe and widespread during El Niño. The 1982 El Niño, for instance, led to frosts throughout the Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya highlands.

There are also clear variations in wind between El Niño and La Niña events, especially close to the Equator (see Figures 7.1 and 7.2). As mentioned earlier, the northeast monsoon over the Philippines during the northern summer tends to be weaker during an El Niño (Rasmusson and Carpenter, 1982). The south-east monsoon over western Indonesia and Malaysia tends to be stronger during an El Niño episode. These variations in the basic flow, in conjunction with the number of islands of the region, will result in many local variations in wind speed and direction between El Niño and La Nina years. In turn, these local variations will lead to local differences in precipitation or temperature that may be very different to the broad-scale anomalies associated with El Niño; for instance, Nicholls (1973) found that rainfall at Lae (on the coast) tended to be high during El Niño events, even though the opposite was the case over much of the rest of New Guinea. The increase in rainfall at Lae was attributed to the interaction between the changes in the prevailing winds associated with El Niño and the local topography.

Predictability of Climatic Fluctuations

The biennial cycle underlying the ENSO phenomenon and the phase-locking of this cycle to the annual cycle provide some regularity to the phenomenon and to climatic variables associated with it. This regularity allows a degree of predictability. The phase-locking means that ENSO, or an index of the phenomenon (for example, the SOI), will tend to change phase around March-May and only rarely at other times of the year. Thus, if the SOI is strongly positive (La Nina) during the middle of the year, it will probably stay in that phase until early the following year. So climatic variations normally associated with this phase of ENSO, and which occur towards the end of the calendar year, may be predictable simply by monitoring the SOI earlier in the year.

FIGURE 7.7 Mean Monthly Temperatures in Singapore during El Niño and La Niña Years

The work of Braak (1919, 1921-9) and Berlage (1927, 1934) indicated that early wetseason rainfall for Indonesia could be predicted using a simple index of the Southern Oscillation. Nicholls (1981) confirmed, using data from 1883 to 1965, that Indonesian rainfall in the early part of the wet season could be predicted with an index of ENSO, in this case atmospheric pressure at Darwin. Kiladis and Diaz (1989) found a relationship between the Oscillation and South-East Asian temperature from September to May (see Figure 7.7) which indicates that this rainfall could also be predicted using the Oscillation.

So while ENSO amplifies the climatic variability in the areas it affects, it also allows some degree of predictability of the year-to-year variations. This predictability can, if it is properly utilized, offset the greater variability, in effect, restoring the variability to levels similar to that experienced elsewhere. The use of the seasonal climate predictions made possible by ENSO should play a major role in sustainable development strategies in the areas affected by the phenomenon.

Impacts of ENSO

Impacts on Soil, Vegetation and Wildlife

In Australia, there is clear evidence that much of the natural vegetation is adapted to the high variability and temporal 'rhythms' associated with ENSO (Nicholls, 1991). Many plants in areas strongly affected by the phenomenon are well adapted to a regime of frequent droughts and periods of heavy rains of, typically, 12 months duration. In these areas, the El Niño-associated variability dominates the annual cycle. The relative strengths of the annual cycle of rainfall and the ENSO 'cycle' will obviously be different in the Tropics, so the vegetation there may be less clearly adapted. The effects of the phenomenon, however, might still be seen. Massive tree deaths. attributed to the drought, were reported from Borneo during the 1877 El Niño event (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989).

The high rainfall variability associated with ENSO, and the biennial cycle induced by the phenomenon, could increase the likelihood of fires, due to both natural and human causes. The long, wet periods followed rapidly by long, dry periods would enhance the likelihood of wildfires. Rapid growth during the pluvial season would dry quickly in the ensuing drought and then 'dry' thunderstorms could ignite the forests. Burning-off at inappropriate times, that is, during droughts, could also lead to wildfires. The major El Niño of 1982-3 led to enormous fires in the Equatorial rain forests of Borneo (Malingreau, 1987).

Extremes in winds and highly variable rainfall caused by ENSO can also lead to severe soil erosion. The biennial nature of the phenomenon, again, can aggravate erosion further. Thus, heavy rains in a La Nina, following an El Niño drought, would fall on bare soils, with less than normal interception by vegetation. In the New Guinea highlands, it appears that the biennial nature of ENSO leads to above average rainfall before and after El Niño-related droughts (Allen, Brookfield and Byron,1989), as is the case in Australia (Nicholls, 1991).

Therefore, a similar phenomenon throughout Indonesia and other parts of South-East Asia affected by ENSO can be expected. In these areas, the potential for soil erosion might be high for the reasons outlined above, especially if forests are removed to allow expanded areas of cropping or grazing. Stronger-than-normal south-east winds through the dry season during an El Niño could also lead to soil erosion, although wind erosion would be less of a problem in tropical South-East Asia compared with the semi-arid parts of Australia, for instance.

There is clear evidence from Australia, and elsewhere, that the climatic and ocean anomalies associated with ENSO affect wildlife. Limpus and Nicholls (1988) found that the number of green turtles nesting each year could be predicted by monitoring ENSO. Green turtles nest in various parts of South-East Asia, and in some areas, they are used for food. If their breeding elsewhere in the region is triggered by the phenomenon, the management of the turtle population might be facilitated by monitoring with the SOI.

Impacts on Agriculture

Malingreau (1987) showed that Indonesian crops are adversely affected by El Niñorelated droughts, such as those of 1972, 1976 and 1982. The severe drought of 1982-3 impaired the dry-season crop of 1982 and delayed the planting of the 1982-3 crop (Malingreau, 1987). At the national level, the main effect of the drought was to postpone the realization of Indonesian self-sufficiency objectives until 1984. Allen, Brookfield and Byron (1989) cite documentary evidence of crop failures and livestock losses throughout Indonesia in previous El Niño episodes (for example, 1914, 1877 and 1804). The eastern Borneo rice crop failed after the El Niño drought in 1877-8 and again following floods during the 1879 La Nina.

In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, El Niño episodes are often accompanied by a series of severe frosts (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989). These damage the aboveground growth of most of the crops, including sweet potato, the single most important food of the highlands. Again, frosts might be expected through the highlands of much of South-East Asia, where cloud cover is reduced during El Niño episodes. Thus, crops may be vulnerable to frost damage during these periods. Heavy frost and even freak snowfalls in Irian Jaya led to food shortages during 1982 and early 1983 (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989).

The high variability of rainfall and the potential for severe frosts, in areas affected by ENSO throughout South-East Asia, suggest that care needs to be taken in planting appropriate crops. Crops able to thrive under a range of rainfall regimes, from dry to wet, might be more appropriate in these areas rather than crops more suited to consistent tropical climates where ENSO does not have a major impact.

Land-management practices also need to be developed with consideration to the high variability of climate and the temporal pattern of rainfall anomalies imposed by the conditions. Imposition of European land-management practices in parts of Australia where ENSO affects climate has led to long-term changes in vegetation. The best known of these changes is in the area now known as the Pilliga Scrub (Austin and Williams, 1988; Rolls, 1981). Much of this area of 400 000 hectares was open, grassy country with only about eight large trees per hectare when Europeans arrived in the 1830s. Frequent burning by the Aborigines and grazing by indigenous marsupials restricted the opportunities for trees and shrubs to establish themselves. Fire germinated the seeds of the trees and shrubs, but rat kangaroos ate many of the resulting seedlings before they could be established.

The introduction of sheep reduced the number of rat kangaroos by destroying their cover and food. A severe drought during the major El Niño event of 1877-8 further reduced the number of indigenous marsupials. The following year, a major La Nina event (Wright, 1975), was very wet. The few large trees seeded well and when stock owners burnt to destroy grasses with seeds that got into their sheep's wool, seedlings came up thickly, unhindered by the grasses which would usually compete with them for space. This time, there were no rat kangaroos to eat the seedlings and the trees grew unchecked.

Over the next decade, there were several further periods of establishment, again synchronized with El Niño-La Niña oscillations. The European rabbit, also an enthusiastic eater of seedlings, arrived in the area in the late 1880s and prevented further establishment until myxomatosis reduced the rabbit population in 1951. The first successful release of myxomatosis occurred in 1950. Earlier releases of the disease had not led to widespread effects. Extensive rains and flooding in 1950, associated with a major La Nina, contributed to the successful establishment of the disease by providing ideal breeding conditions for the insects that spread it.

In 1917, the Forestry Commission stopped burning in the Pilliga Scrub and by 1950, large amounts of forest litter had accumulated. So had decades of seed production. The forest dried in the El Niño event of 1951, following good growth during the La Nina of 1950, and a major fire started in November 1951. In the absence of rat kangaroos and rabbits, the new growth induced by the fire had nothing to stop it.

In less than a century, Europeans had unintentionally transformed the area from grazing land into the dense Pilliga Scrub supporting sustained timber harvesting. The ENSO phenomenon played a critical role in this transformation. The biennial nature of it, and of the associated climatic fluctuations, appear to have been especially important in determining these changes. In the establishment of the Pilliga Scrub, for example, the temporal pairing of El Niño and La Nina events (1877 and 1878; 1950 and 1951) was a major factor, not just extreme rainfalls falling randomly in single years. The very large variability of rainfall caused by the ENSO phenomenon was also important. Heathcote (196:S) notes that there was considerable concern early in the twentieth century that the combination of grazing and the high variability of Australian rainfall was leading to progressive degradation of the native vegetation in semi-arid areas.

Austin and Williams (1988) and McKeon et al. (1990) cite other examples where the intense climatic events associated with both extremes of ENSO resulted in major longterm vegetation degradation. In western Queensland, there was a rapid increase in the sheep population during the above average rainfall years of the early 1890s. Major El Niño events between 1899 and 1902 resulted in very low rainfall and a rapid drop in animal numbers. Heavy utilization of edible grasses and shrubs during this drought led to a spread of inedible plants and carrying capacities seem to have been permanently impaired (Heathcote, 1965; McKeon et al., 1990). In the subtropical grasslands of southern coastal Queensland, the rapid change in species composition to bunch spear grass appears to have resulted from overgrazing with sheep during the El Niño-related drought of 1881-2 (McKeon et al., 1990). More recently, low beef prices in the mid1970s led to increased stocking rates in Queensland. These years were wet, the result of the 1973-5 La Nina, but attempts to maintain the high stocking rates into the 1980s with their drier, El Niño-related conditions has led to pasture degradation, species changes and soil erosion (McKeon et al., 1990).

Similar long-term vegetation changes could be anticipated to occur in the parts of South-East Asia affected by ENSO, unless land-management strategies are designed to take into account the phenomenon. Such major, long-term changes make sustainable development more difficult than might be the case in less variable climates. On the other hand, the predictability of the climatic fluctuations, afforded by ENSO, may allow some of its deleterious effects to be offset by tactical land-management responses. Attempts are under way in Australia to combine climate forecasts prepared by monitoring ENSO with pro-active land-use strategies, both for cropping and grazing. These should lead to higher, more consistent yields and to less land degradation.

Impacts on Human Health

The ENSO phenomenon appears to have considerable potential for affecting human health in various parts of South-East Asia. During the 1982-3 El Niño, there were reports of isolated outbreaks of cholera throughout Indonesia related to the effect of drought on water supplies. A total of 340 deaths from starvation were also reported (Canby, 1984), although reliable information on this is difficult to obtain. In Irian Jaya, food shortages also apparently led to some deaths (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989). There were, many reports of gastrointestinal diseases due to the shortage of good water in Indonesia during the severe drought related to the 1877 El Niño (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989). Other nineteenth-century El Niño episodes also led to food shortages throughout Indonesia. In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, frost damage to food crops during El Niño periods has led to famines in the past (Allen, Brookfield and Byron, 1989). During La Nina episodes, with their concomitant heavy rains and flooding, an increase in the prevalence of arboviruses (for example, Japanese encephalitis) might be expected. In Australia, such a pattern exists with epidemics of Murray Valley encephalitis occurring only during La Nina events (Nicholls' 1986).

All countries suffer from droughts and floods. It is sometimes suggested that, since not all countries have food shortages as a result, factors other than climatic variability are required to explain why droughts in some areas lead to famines. The higher climatic variability (that is, more severe droughts and floods) in countries affected by ENSO may provide a partial explanation of why droughts in these countries can lead to severe food shortages whereas elsewhere they do not. Simply put, the droughts in such countries will, in general, be more severe than in other areas.

This is not to say that the relatively high climatic variability in low-latitude countries affected by ENSO will necessarily lead to highly visible health impacts. Many observers have noted that drought itself cannot be considered the sole cause of famines. Digby (1901) reported an investigation of the Indian famines of the late-nineteenth century by The Revd J. T. Sunderland published in 1900. These famines occurred during El Niñorelated droughts. Sunderland dismissed the failure of the rains as the cause of the famines. He noted that when drought was severe in some parts, other parts had plenty of rain; that irrigation, which was widespread, provided certainty in cropping; and that transport was good across the country, allowing ready conveyance of food from areas of abundance to areas of scarcity. Sunderland decided that the real cause of the famines was the 'extreme, the abject, the awful, poverty of the Indian people'. This extreme poverty kept most of the population on the very verge of suffering even during years of plenty and prevented them from storing anything to tide them over years of scarcity. The Indian, thus, 'finds starvation invariably staring him in the face if any disorder overtakes that little crop which is the only thing which stands between him and death'.

Sunderland then went on to determine the cause of the poverty. He attributed it to the 'enormous foreign tribute', which 'drains away her wealth in a steady stream that is all the while enriching the English people, and of course correspondingly impoverishing the helpless people of India' (Digby, 1901: 166). Digby agreed that the nineteenth-century famines occurred 'not because rains fail and moisture is denied; always, even in the worst of years, there is water enough poured from the skies on Indian soil to germinate and ripen the grain, but because India is steadily and rapidly growing poorer'.

Glantz ( 1987) reviewed recent studies on the famine-drought nexus in Africa and reached a similar conclusion; namely, that drought cannot be regarded as the major or sole source of the agricultural crisis existing in most African countries. Drought is very often a contributing factor to other underlying problems afflicting societies that are dependent on agricultural production. Garcia (1981: 219) in a study of droughts and famines in 1972-3 (another major El Niño event) also concluded that his 'case-studies provide confirmatory evidences that droughts . . . are not the sole or even primary cause of internal disequilibrium in the society. They merely reveal a pre-existing disequilibrium.'

The conclusions reached by Garcia and Glantz differ substantially from the view of famines prevailing in the 1960s. At that time, many observers regarded the drought itself as responsible for food shortages and famines in various parts of Africa. Late in the nineteenth century, notwithstanding the analysis by Sunderland, drought was widely regarded as the primary cause of Indian famines. Such views led to technological 'solutions' to famine. Often such technological solutions tend to favour cash-crop production for export which can actually worsen local food availability (Glantz, 1987). The conclusion that social, economic and political problems (what Garcia refers to as a state of 'disequilibrium') lead to vulnerability to drought implies that removal of the source of this disequilibrium is necessary to prevent climate-related health problems.

The influence of social, economic and political structures in determining whether climatic anomalies in a particular region will lead to famine or other health problems can explain why some countries, with a climate strongly affected by ENSO, do not suffer food shortages that lead to famines, while in others (for example, northern China and India), the inexorability with which famine followed drought during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has now been broken. The conclusion that non-physical factors may determine whether the possible health problems associated with climatic anomalies will be realized in a specific country or at a specific time does not, however, invalidate the fact that increased climatic variability heightens the potential for health problems. A highly variable climate can provide the frequent severe droughts and floods which set the scene for potential food shortages and even famine. But other factors must operate to realize this potential.

Implications for Sustainable Development

The substantial effect of ENSO on interannual climatic variations in many areas of the world, including at least parts of South-East Asia, suggests that its role needs to be considered in the development of a sustainable environmental future. In this section, a few examples of how ENSO may impact on sustainable development are provided. The list is by no means exhaustive; the widespread effects of ENSO mean that it will impact on sustainable development strategies in many ways, some of which are unpredictable.

The ways in which information about ENSO can be used are categorized here according to whether they represent the development of long-term procedures (strategies) or short-term responses (tactics). Thus, a decision to plant a different crop because a drought has been forecast (by monitoring the phenomenon) would be a tactical response to the information provided. A decision to always plant crops suited to a highly variable climate would be a strategic response to the problems.

The impacts of ENSO on human health are relevant to sustainable development. As noted above, the high climatic variability increases the potential for climate-related food shortages and epidemics of gastrointestinal illness and arboviruses. Affected countries need to be aware of the higher probability of climatic anomalies on the potential threat to human health. Tactical responses and strategic action might be necessary to minimize the consequences of climatic anomalies related to ENSO. A tactical response could be the use of greater prophylactic measures (for example, spraying to control mosquitoes) when a La Niña event (with concomitant heavy rains) is under way, because of the greater likelihood of arboviral epidemics. A strategic approach would be to stockpile greater food supplies than might be necessary in an area of lower climatic variability. The wide spatial scales of the phenomenon, which means that food shortages might occur over large parts of South-East Asia concurrently, also need to be considered. These spatial aspects would complicate the use of internal food-relief strategies to overcome shortages unless adequate stockpiles are developed.

Strategic and tactical approaches to the problems raised by ENSO in agriculture and land management can also be devised. Since, as noted above, soil erosion and wildfires may be more frequent and severe in areas affected by ENSO, strategic responses, such as the use of tillage practices appropriate to areas of highly variable rainfall, might reduce these deleterious effects. Similarly, recognition of the higher danger of wildfires calls for the development of forest-management strategies to minimize the risk of fires. The choice of crops suitable to a highly variable climate, rather than those suitable for more consistent climates, would also be a strategic response.

Tactical approaches would include the use of seasonal climate outlooks that ENSO can provide to determine whether to burn off, for example. Thus, slas-hand-burn operations might be restricted during an El Niño event to minimize the risk of fire. Tillage might be reduced at the end of major El Niño events when the heavy rains associated with the breaking of the 'El Niño' drought might increase soil erosion. Leaving residual vegetation and crop stubble in the fields at such times may also reduce erosion. Tactical use of seasonal climate outlooks may also be useful in crop planning; for example, in some years, two crops may be possible when the wet season starts early. The date of the onset of the wet season could be predicted with ENSO.

These are just a few examples indicating how knowledge of the climatic effects of ENSO in South-East Asia, and their impacts on the ecology, environment, agriculture and economy might be used to help attain a sustainable environmental future. Many others may present themselves later. Future use of the expanding knowledge may prevent the long-term environmental changes that have occurred elsewhere through the interaction between ENSO and land-management practices designed for less variable, but less predictable, climates. But whether ENSO will continue to affect South-East Asia as it has done in the past needs to be monitored. If, for example, ENSO stops operating, this would mean a less variable climate. A change in the global climate might conceivably lead to a change in the behaviour of the ENSO phenomenon.

ENSO in the past and future

It is clearly important for South-East Asia to be able to predict how ENSO might be affected by global warming. Several suggestions have been made about how this might be done, including the use of paleoclimatic information, simple theories of ENSO and numerical models. Most of these approaches are flawed and produce conflicting predictions. Therefore, no reliable predictions of a likely ENSO reaction to global warming can be made at this stage. In the long run, a coupled ocean-atmosphere model capable of realistically simulating the present-day behaviour of the phenomenon must be developed. It could then be used to predict any reaction to global warming. Such a simulation is not yet available, although several groups have developed models which reproduce some aspects of ENSO. Some models of ENSO are sensitive to the background model 'climates' (Enfield, 1989). If the models are adequately simulating the real behaviour of ENSO, this sensitivity would suggest that global warming may produce marked changes in its behaviour.

Until a credible model is available, perhaps the best approach to predicting the phenomenon's future behaviour is to examine its past behaviour. If it is sure that change has not been marked in, say, the last 10,000 years, it can be confidently assumed that it is strong enough to survive global warming on the grounds that it has survived past climatic changes. On the other hand, evidence of considerable variations, such as frequency of occurrence, would indicate that it was not very robust with respect to climatic change, as suggested by the rudimentary ENSO models presently available.

The SOI is plotted for over a century, 1880-1990, in Figure 7.8. The time series shows little evidence of major changes or instability in behaviour, despite the 0.5 °C global warming observed over this period.

Unconventional data sources must be used to plot the behaviour of ENSO prior to the middle of the nineteenth century, because of the paucity of appropriate meteorological data. Nicholls (1988b) used documentary sources to show that ENSO was operating and affecting both sides of the Pacific in the first half of the nineteenth century. Quinn, Neal and Antenuz de Mayolo (1987) plotted the strong and moderate El Niño events (using documentary records of heavy rainfalls in northern Peru) that have occurred since 1525. Enfield (1989) demonstrated that El Niño intensities and intervals between events seem no different now than they were four centuries ago. Lough and Fritts (1985) reconstructed the SOI back to 1601 from tree-ring data and also found no clear trends in its behaviour. Murphy and Whetton (1989) found an ENSO signal in Java tree rings from between 1514 and 1929. They compared tree rings in years identified as El Niño events by Quinn, Neal and Antenuz de Mayolo (1987) with those of other years and found a tendency for reduced tree-ring width (implying drought) in the year before El Niño events were observed in the eastern Pacific. The heavy eastern Pacific rains associated with El Niño normally come at the end of an event (for example, 1983 at the end of the 1982-3 event). All these different lines of evidence imply that ENSO has been robust with respect to climatic changes of the magnitude of the 'Little Ice Age', a period of globally lower temperatures that extended roughly from 1500 to 1850.

Whether ENSO exhibited its present-day behaviour earlier than this is difficult to say, although several studies of proxy data such as ice-cores, coral cores and sediments suggest that at least some El Niño events occurred thousands of years ago. Enfield (1989) reviews some of this evidence. A different approach was suggested by Nicholls (1989). As noted earlier, ENSO causes highly variable rainfall in the areas it affects. The wildlife and vegetation in at least some of the areas (for example, Australia) is very well adapted to highly variable rainfall, implying that ENSO may have been operating over evolutionary time scales in much the same way as today. If so, it has survived major climatic changes and might be expected to survive global warming of the magnitude predicted from the enhanced greenhouse effect.

FIGURE 7.8 Annual Average Southern Oscillation Index, 1880-1990

From the evidence available up to the early 1990s, there seems little reason to believe that major changes in ENSO will occur due to global warming over the next few decades. Certainly there is no way, yet, of predicting the changes. A definitive answer, however, requires the production of a model capable of simulating ENSO's present-day behaviour.

Future work

Further work is needed to document the exact influence of ENSO throughout South-East Asia. Exhaustive studies, such as those by Allen (1989) and Allen, Brookfield and Byron ( 1989) for the highlands of Papua New Guinea should be completed for the entire region. Improvements in the accessibility and quality of climate data are needed if this is to be done. Some interesting interactions between ENSO and the background climate can be expected, because of the strong seasonal climatic variations in this region. The effect of ENSO on rainfall at Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), for example, is illustrated in Figure 7.9. Rainfall here usually exhibits twin peaks, as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) passes over the station in June and October. During La Nina episodes, these peaks are exaggerated; while in El Niño episodes, they are almost removed and a new peak rainfall appears in August.

Further work is also needed to assess impacts of climatic anomalies associated with ENSO in the region. Effects on agriculture and human health, in particular, need to be better documented. The implications of the high variability and temporal patterning of ENSO-related climatic anomalies for forest management, soil conservation and wildlife management also have implications for the development of a sustainable environmental future for the region. Finally, ways of using the information provided by ENSO about the region's climatic variations (including the seasonal predictability) to enhance the environment, economy and lifestyle of the region need to be developed.

FIGURE 7.9 Mean Rainfall and Composite Rainfall in El Niño and La Nina Years at Kota Kinabalu (Sabah)

The South-East Asian region is likely to continue to be affected in much the same ways as it is now, at least for the foreseeable future. As populations increase, greater pressures will be placed on the environment. These can combine with the highly variable climate produced by ENSO to yield further rapid and irreversible changes to the environment. Amplification of climatic variations caused by ENSO in South-East Asia and other areas will make sustainable development more difficult than will be the case in the unaffected areas. Both the knowledge of the way ENSO influences the climate and the predictability provided by the phenomenon need to be improved and utilized in the quest for sustainable development.

(introductory text...)

Prediction of the 1991 ENSO event in Indonesia
Editorial comment


NICHOLLS has prepared an excellent and comprehensive review on the El NiñoSouthern Oscillation (ENSO) with particular emphasis on its impact on drought and flooding rain in South-East Asia. Therefore, there is little room for discussion. However, some additional information on the ENSO phenomenon from an oceanographic viewpoint can be offered, and also a plan of integrated inquiry and the development of capabilities in the region, both for research and for predicting ENSO.

Located between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans and between the Asian and Australian continents, the South-East Asian seas are strongly influenced by the monsoonal climate pattern. The South-East Asian seas, dominated by the Indonesian seas, form the only tropical interoceanic link between a reservoir of warm surface water in the western Pacific and the eastern Indian Ocean. The heat and water flux between the two oceans through this link is estimated to be considerable and has a large, perhaps even global-scale impact on the ocean-atmosphere system.

The ENSO phenomenon generates adverse climatic effects regionally over the whole Pacific basin, even globally. The constant westward Equatorial tradewind pushes the warm surface water of the Pacific, piling it up in the western Pacific ocean just north of the Indonesian archipelago. Apparently, a 'western Pacific warm pool' is a key factor in triggering ENSO. Therefore, an international programme called COARE (Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment) is now under way to study the interaction of oceanography and meteorology in an area between 140 and 180 °E, 10 °S and 10 °N, just off Papua New Guinea. This experiment is part of an International Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) programme. Some of the results of studies and modelling have been presented in the last International TOGA Scientific Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii during 16-20 July 1990.

The South-East Asian countries participate actively in various international programmes to study the impact of global change on ENSO. Aside from TOGA, some examples of other programmes are:

Committee for Climate Changes and the Ocean, both the Indian Ocean Panel as well as the Pacific Ocean Panel;

Global Sea Level Observing System, which uses a network of tide gauges installed in the region;

Regional Ocean Dynamics (an ASEAN-Australia co-operative programme);

Subcommission of the Western Pacific (of IOC); and

World Ocean Circulation Experiment.

Prediction of the 1991 ENSO event in Indonesia

With all the limitations of lack of technological capabilities and equipment, researchers in the South-East Asian countries themselves have started to develop capabilities for predicting ENSO and sea-level rise. In co-operation with the Regional Office for Science and Technology in South-East Asia of UNESCO in Jakarta, Indonesian oceanographers offered an early prediction of an ENSO event in 1990-1. They relied particularly on anomalous coastal flooding that took place on the north coast of Java in November 1989, and again in December 1990, interpreting this as the consequence of a wave projected eastwards through the Indonesian archipelago from the Indian Ocean. In January 1991, using this information and rainfall data, they issued a statement predicting an event in 1991 that would be less intense than that of 1982-3, but stronger than the small event in 1986-7. This turned out to be a correct prediction, and it is something of a coup for the Third World scientists involved, who succeeded in making a long-range prediction without the help of high-tech monitoring capabilities and little in the way of computer capabilities.

The story began in mid-November 1989, when the old city of Jakarta was suddenly flooded by sea water to a depth of 30 40 centimetres above the normal high-water mark. This happened in fine, calm weather, and it imposed massive damage on food storages thought to be safe from flooding. By coincidence, a United Nations Development Programme-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNDPUNESCO) training course at a sea-coast laboratory was delayed by the flooding, and the assembled Indonesian scientists turned the occasion into an on-the-spot workshop. The extent of the flooding implied that a very great deal of energy was involved, and suggested that the event was therefore of global significance.

Efforts to attract international scientific interest in the November 1989 phenomenon proved fruitless; most oceanographers dismissed the event as a consequence of coastal subsidence, and of no climatological significance. The Lembaga llmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI) and UNESCO then held an international workshop in March 1990, with a principal focus on global climatic change as it affected the coastal environment. This meeting, and a national meeting in October, concluded that no such standard explanation fitted the facts.

By mid-October 1990, however, it was becoming clear that the onset of the annual wet season was delayed. Then, in November, a further unusual phenomenon was noted by a UNESCO scientist studying behaviour patterns among birds in relation to predicted global climatic change. Collard or Oriental Pratincoles, last seen in Jakarta during the 1982-3 drought, reappeared in the city. These plover-like birds move slowly on the ground but fly like swallows, catching much of their insect food on the wing. They winter in dry, open country in northern Australia, but in November 1982 and again in 1990, small flocks were seen hawking insects in the southern suburbs of Jakarta.

By mid-December 1990, the wet season was clearly abnormal, not only in lava but also in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. By this time, an anomalously warm pool in the central Pacific, accumulating since early 1989, was becoming pronounced, with cyclogenesis further east than normal in the Pacific, leading to cautious international prognostications that an ENSO might be developing. Then the city of Jakarta again experienced coastal marine flooding on 3 December 1991. LIPI and UNESCO issued their prediction on 4 January 1991.

Editorial comment

Soegiarto went on to appeal that much greater attention be paid to unconventional indicators, such as bird behaviour and unusual levels of the sea, and that Third World scientists should be involved in an extensive monitoring network, especially in the critical region of South-East Asia and northern Australia. At present, many significant anomalies go undetected by the remote-sensing and instrumental network, on which prediction principally relies. Nicholls, whose own paper had stressed the use of unconventional data, and of biological responses in particular, welcomed this suggestion which was taken up in discussion as a proposal that should be adopted by the conference as a whole.

The discussion was also extended to correlates with the anomalously wet, anti-ENSO or La Nina events which commonly either precede or follow an El Niño, as described in Nicholls' Chapter 7. James Fox drew attention to stem borer damage in the rice crop, the correlation of which with low dry-season rainfall in East Java was first studied by Van der Laan (1959). This, it seems from subsequent correspondence between Nicholls and Fox, can tentatively be shown to be particularly severe one year after a La Nina event, that is, in a dry year following an unusually wet one.

A similar correlation between the same pairing of rainfall anomalies and low production of sweet potatoes in the highlands of Papua New Guinea was remarked upon by Allen; the wider question of the agricultural significance of this pairing was taken up in a subsequent paper by Brookfield and Allen (1991). At the meeting, Allen stressed the need to pay attention to extremes, rather than averages. Many social systems in the region contain elements which are adaptations to extremes, with continuing institutions that are like ghosts, responsive to extremes in the past.

As is noted in the Introduction to Part II, the anomalous wet season of 1990-1 was followed by a severe and prolonged 1991 dry season in Indonesia, as also in a large part of north-eastern Australia. By August 1991, large forest fires had again broken out in Kalimantan and Sumatra, burning some 30 000 hectares in Kalimantan by October. The rice crop in lava was also seriously affected by the drought.

(introductory text...)

Climatic change in tropical Asia, 1910s-1980s
Problems in climate-agriculture relationships: Rice yields in three areas
Flow of impacts of climatic change on agriculture
Concluding remarks


PROBLEMS for agriculture arising from climatic change are reviewed in this chapter. In 1984, the author summarized similar problems (Yoshino, 1984b). This chapter is an updated version, in the context of new findings on global climatic change. Parry, Mendzhulin and Sinha (1990) reviewed, globally, the potential impact of climatic change on agriculture and forestry. They point out that present-day vulnerability to climate is substantial. Of the land area of the developing countries, 63 per cent is climatically suited to rainfed agriculture, and the corresponding figure is about 84 per cent in South-East Asia. However, the topographically and pedologically suitable area is far smaller. After a review of the facts of climatic change in the region, the chapter presents as examples some data on crop climate relationships in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Hainan Island, South China. This leads to a more general discussion of relationships between climatic change and agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Climatic change in tropical Asia, 1910s-1980s

Yamamoto (1990) has calculated rates of secular change of air temperature during the 1910s-1980s in the various regions of the oceanic areas. There are several important findings related to tropical Asia. During this period, the range between maximum and minimum temperature is the largest in the zone 50 70 °N and the smallest in the zone 10 30 °N. Since 1970, curves show a warming tendency in the zones 50-70 °N and between 10 °N and 10 °S, but a cooling in the zone 30-50 °N, and no clear tendency in the zone 10 30 °N over the Pacific. A recent study for Indonesia (Sutamihardja and Sutrisno, 1991) revealed evidence of a clear increase of minimum and maximum air temperatures at Jakarta during 1866 1989 (Figures 8.1-8.2). Although there are problems with the data, so that those for 1944-51 in Figure 8.1 should be questioned, and data for the period after 1970 in Figure 8.2 must be rejected, the increases during the last 50 years are striking.

The heat-island effect of a rapidly growing city should, of course, be deducted from the warming due to global tendencies. There are also long-term variations of rainfall in the Asian Tropics, but they differ from region to region, so that it is hard to draw a general conclusion. Year-to-year variations in rainfall have important effects on agricultural activities but, in the Asian Tropics, their range of fluctuation, cycles or periodicities and abrupt changes, have not yet been clearly analysed. Henderson-Sellers (Chapter 6) has discussed the large differences in the GCM modelling results for tropical Asia, and clearly further information is needed before any prediction is possible concerning the regional consequences of doubling carbon dioxide (CO2). Meanwhile, it is worthwhile to analyse present problems, especially where these are of a nature that could be modified significantly by global climatic change.

FIGURE 8.1 Secular Change of Annual Minimum Air Temperature at Jakarta, 1866-1989

FIGURE 8.2 Secular Change of Annual Maximum Air Temperature at Jakarta, 1866 1989

Problems in climate-agriculture relationships: Rice yields in three areas

Sri Lanka

The case of paddy (rice) production in Sri Lanka is of relevance, because it demonstrates the complexities of climate-agriculture relationships in an area that has several elements in common with South-East Asia. It is discussed with reference to results obtained by Yoshino and Suppiah (1984).

There are two cropping seasons in Sri Lanka corresponding with the northeast monsoon, or Maha season, and the south-west monsoon, or Yala season. Sowing dates in the former season extend over several months, but over only a short period in the latter (Yoshino, 1984b: 95). Most of the dry-zone districts (roughly, the north-eastem part of Sri Lanka) show a significant relationship between harvested area and rainfall in the Maha season, while in the wet-zone districts (roughly, the south-westem part of Sri Lanka), the significant relationship is with rainfall in the Yala season. But there are some districts which show strong relationship in both seasons, as they are affected by both monsoons. Figure 8.3, calculated from data over 20 years (1960 80), relates deviations in harvested or sown area to seasonal rainfall deviations for three places.

In the dry zone, Maha season rainfall which is less than one standard deviation below the mean has caused severe crop losses, extending into the subsequent Yala season and, in some cases, into the following Maha season. The failure of the south-west monsoon (Yale) results in water-deficit conditions in the wet-zone highland paddy lands. Excessive rainfall in either or both seasons causes floods and waterlogged conditions in the lowlands of the country. In the driest part of Sri Lanka, there is a unique relationship in the range of anomalous negative departure of rainfall below -10 centimetres: the relationship is positive; but above -10 centimetres, the rainfall has no effect on the harvested area. The reasons for this relationship are not clear.

FIGURE 8.3 Three Types of Relationships between Rainfall Deviation and Harvest Deviation in Sri Lanka

In Figure 8.4, the secular changes of total paddy area harvested and sown for the whole of Sri Lanka over 20 years, and the average seasonal rainfall of all of Sri Lanka, are presented, using data drawn from Yoshino et al. (1983). From this figure, it can be seen that paddy production is influenced more by rainfall in the Maha season than in the Yala season. In fact, the area sown minus area harvested has the closest relationship to the rainfall. A total product departure from the calculated value, which is an experimentally calculated value in view of the secular increase in area, is significantly correlated for the Maha season, but not for the Yala season. However, absolute values of sown area, harvested area and total product have no significant correlation with rainfall. This is due to the sharp increase in these values during the 20 years under consideration, not to an increase in the rainfall parameters.

On the basis of individual years, a number of other interesting effects can be seen; for instance, a low Yala rainfall coincided with low harvested and sown areas in 1976, but not in 1966. Table 8.1 presents the years of minimum sown and harvested area: 1965, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1979. These are compared with minimum points on the rainfall curves, and the years marked according to perfect fit, relatively good fit and non-fit between rainfall and agriculture. Years for minimum sown and harvested area in the Yala seasons of 1965, 1969, 1972 and 1975 correspond to the rainfall minima in the preceding Maha seasons, in each of which, rainfall was below about 800 millimetres. Table 8.1 also compares conditions of drought in the 1964-5 and 1974-5 Maha seasons. In the 1974 5 Maha season, the drought was most serious, rainfall being less than two standard deviations below the mean. The sown and harvested areas, however, were smaller in 1964-5 than in 1974 5, not because of rainfall but because of development of cultivation techniques and irrigation systems.

FIGURE 8.4 Secular Change of Rainfall, Area Sown and Area Harvested for the Whole of Sri Lanka, 1960/1-1979/80

TABLE 8.1 Fitness of Minimums of Yala Sown Extent (Y.S.) and Yala Harvested Acreage Y.H.) to the Minimums of Yala Rainfall (Y.R.) and Maha Rainfall (M.R.) in Sri Lanka, 1961-1980


Y.R. Minimum


Y.S. Minimum Y.H.. Minimum M.R. Minimum M.R. (mm)
1965 1965 x · 741
1969 1969 x · 787
(1972) 1972 x . 766
1973 (1973) o x 1 008
(1975) 1975 x . 585
1976 (1976) · o 825
1979 1979 o x 1 036
    Average (1961 -80) 977

Source: Yoshino et al. (1983).
Note: · = perfect fit: o = relatively good fit; x = non-fit.

The timing of cultivation is a serious problem for water management in Sri Lanka. It depends upon water being available at the proper time. The phenomena described above show something of the real nature of this problem. Domroes (1978) wrote that the relationship between crop yields and drought conditions is complicated, and that rainfall conditions may not immediately affect crop production. It is therefore of interest that in the worst cases noted here, when deficient Maha rainfall carried its effect over into the succeeding Yala season, Maha season rainfall was less than a standard deviation below the mean. Perhaps this represents a critical climatic value in this complex relationship.

Indonesia: The Drought of 1982 in Java

Indonesia covers a wider climatic range than Sri Lanka. In the months between November and February-March, the northwesterlies bring humid air, in a season generally termed the north-west monsoon. There are some local differences in rainfall distribution in accordance with topography and position in relation to the prevailing wind direction. During the period from April to October-November, Indonesia is influenced by the relatively dry southeasterlies from across Australia.

Of the total area of Indonesia, around 14.2 million hectares are classified as arable land. This arable land can be divided into several types, among which rice-field (sawah) land and upland are most important. Sawah land, in which rice is grown under flooded conditions, can be subdivided into irrigated, rainfed and swamp land. Upland agricultural areas have greater variety (Oldeman, 1984). Three-fifths of sawah land and more than one-third of the upland areas are located in Java.

Since 1967, the average yield of rice has increased markedly, from a fairly constant 2 000 kilograms of rough rice per hectare, to reach 3 170 kilograms per hectare in 1978. Yields in the dryland areas showed a much smaller improvement, from 1 100 kilograms per hectare in 1968 to 1 300 kilograms per hectare in 1978. Because of the large year-toyear variation of rainfall, and the differing water supply conditions, there is great variety, even in Java, in the seasonal patterns of planting and harvesting. Table 8.2 shows the contrast between different parts of the island. The main harvest peaks are between April and June, which coincides with the end of the wet season, but there are different crop calendars in some areas. In Tuban, East Java, there is a sharp concentration in the harvest period, soon after the end of the short December-to-April rainy season; elsewhere, multiple cropping gives a wider annual spread of production peaks.

Malingreau (1987) has analysed the effects of the severe drought of 1982 in Java. In the main producing areas, the 1982 dry-season crop was planted in April-May, more or less on schedule, but started to suffer from the water shortage as the season progressed. In all parts of Java, the harvested area was reduced more than 10 per cent in 1982, compared to previous dry seasons. Then, because of the late arrival of the monsoon at the end of 1982, wet-season planting was delayed, so that the rice was in the ground only by the end of December instead of early November, as normally. The resulting compression of the 1983 wet-season harvest in April put heavy pressure on harvest labour, and on the milling and storage systems. Moreover, many farmers planted corn rather than rice, because the rainfall was still insufficient at the end of 1982. This led to a further reduction in rice production in 1983, especially in East Java.

TABLE 8.2 Share of Monthly Harvested Area of Wetland Rice in Total Annual Harvested Area in Selected Regions in Java (per cent)

Region J F M A M J J A S O N D
West lava  
Garut 6 8 6 8 14 12 9 7 6 6 7 11
Karawang 0 0 0 7 32 13 1 1 16 24 4 1
Central Java  
Kebumen 0 5 22 17 7 4 15 21 6 1 0 0
Sragen 4 20 10 13 17 15 7 5 1 1 1 0
East Java  
Tuban 1 0 1 15 43 23 2 1 3 5 2 1

Source: Oldeman (1984).

Supplementing production data with innovative use of remote sensing, Malingreau (1987) concluded that the most important effect of the drought was a drastic reduction in the growth rate. A satellite-derived vegetation index for an area in West Java showed a peak value in June 1982 only 60 70 per cent of that during other dry seasons in a threeyear period; there was then no recovery of the vegetation index in the second half of the year. The drought affected both the dry-season crop of 1982 and delayed the planting of the 1982-3 wet-season crop. This is a similar pattern to that found in Sri Lanka, discussed above.

Hainan Island, South China: The Tropical Margin

A different sort of climate-agriculture relationship is exhibited on Hainan Island, South China. The northern boundary of the true Tropics in South-East Asia might be placed at the southern limit of cold-wave invasion in winter; these waves extend into continental South-East Asia. The frequency and magnitude of cold waves differ according to largescale synoptic events and regional-scale topography (Yoshino, 1988). In the eastern part of South China, cold waves occur quite frequently under the influence of anticyclones over the region. In the most striking cases, the temperature fall at ground level may be more than 20 °C. The so-called 'cold-dew winds' (hanlufeng) which blow during the flowering period in the autumn are also important (Yoshino, 1984a, 1986).

Rice production in Hainan has increased substantially since the introduction of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) varieties in the mid-1970s. With fastermaturing cultivars, there has been a substantial increase in the early rice crop, to now about four-fifths the size of the late rice crop and, under good conditions, giving even better yields. However, the full potential productivity is not realized. The early rice cultivars present the major problem. They are sown from December to May and harvested in 160-170 days. Solar radiation in the ripening months is more than adequate, but the greater part of the growing period of early rice is the dry season. Irrigation is necessary, and winter sweet potatoes are also grown as a dry crop. But the actual crop calendar depends strongly on the incidence of cold waves, winter monsoons and also typhoons in late summer. Combinations of crops would provide better insurance against these hazards.

Flow of impacts of climatic change on agriculture

Summarizing the impacts of global environmental change since the 1960s caused by human activities on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, a tentative flow chart derived from Yoshino (1991) is shown in Figure 8.5. The striking acceleration of human activities, including population increase during those years, is the starting point of the flow. It results in the set of effects labelled 'Environmental Change 1'. Through the warming by greenhouse effects, these lead directly to the second group of consequences. The increase in photosynthesis is an important element here, being a response of plants, and is tentatively given equal weight with changes in the atmosphere, oceans and soils. Further consideration is needed on this point. This second group of changes then leads to impacts on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, which in turn feed back to the beginning stage of the whole process, caused by the expansion of arable lands, destruction of natural vegetation, change of land use and accelerated desertification. There are also feedbacks in the ocean and atmosphere.

FIGURE 8.5 Flow of Impacts of Environmental Change on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The problems listed in the last box of the figure are particularly important in the Asian Tropics. What is not shown, however, is adjustment or adaptation of the relationships between climate and agriculture. Parry (1990), Parry, Mendzulin and Sinha (1990) and Parry and Zhang (1991) have demonstrated the need to examine possibilities which include changes in land use, crop type and crop location, and changes in technology such as irrigation, fertilizer use, control of pests/diseases, soil management, farm infrastructure, and crop and livestock husbandry. These presently unquantifiable possibilities should be studied region by region in the Asian Tropics, because rice cultivation supports high densities of population and can be greatly affected by both climatic change and such adjustments and adaptations.

Concluding remarks

Climatic change can only be discussed against present expectations and, though the future remains unclear, there can be no doubt that there will be large regional differences in the Asian Tropics (Yoshino and Urushibara, 1981). The rapid rate of population growth makes the potential impacts of climatic change on agriculture very serious in this region. Regional scenarios should be studied in relation to the effects of global warming on agriculture, as well as of monsoonal variations. Different crop-climate relationships in nearby regions in the same season, and also in the same region in different seasons, need to be taken into account. As has been seen, drought may project its influence on to the following season's crop by delaying the next planting. Moreover, crop substitution may aggravate the impact of drought on food supplies. Cold waves in the border region of the Tropics cause damage to tropical crops. and future crop selection needs to be taken into account. Co-operative studies on these problems should be internationally conducted. The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (HDGEC) should provide the vehicles for such co-operation.

(introductory text...)

The ongoing indonesian climatic change
Possible impact on rice
Editorial comment



ALTHOUGH modern man has, in his history, experienced climates warmer than the present one (Lamb, 1982), he has no knowledge of the consequences of man's interference with the global climate. Simulation models, such as the General Circulation Model (GCM), are therefore useful tools, which provide us with an idea of the consequences of human tampering with the climate. The differences in the output of the models, as presented by Henderson-Sellers (Chapter 6), merely show that the present understanding of the mechanisms of climate does not match the need to foresee the future. One point to be learned from the models' output is that increasing the earth's atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) content will increase the atmospheric temperature. They further show that the temperature increase will differ between latitudes, as well as between seasons.

The ongoing indonesian climatic change

The Indonesian Committee on Climate Change Monitoring directed that the simulated change should be compared with the ongoing one. This requires simulating climatic change from an initial 286 parts per million of CO2 to an assumed final content of 340 parts per million, as exists in the early 1990s. Since the means to model transient climatic change does not exist, the findings of the observed situation will be presented.

Hidayati (1990) has studied the change of climate in Jakarta and the surrounding areas. She found a very significant change of 0.03 °C per year in the maximum temperature. The increase through 1949-87 was smaller than that over 1916-87; while between 1970 and 1987, the change was negative. The change during the east monsoon (June-August) was larger than that during the west monsoon (December-February). The minimum temperature, although also significant, increased only by 0.01 °C per year over 1916 87. In contrast to the change in the maximum temperature, the minimum temperature shows a progressively higher rate of increase over time. Seasona] change fluctuated, notably showing a decrease over 1940 70. However, Hidayati (1990) went on to show that the total change is partly, if not totally, due to enhancement of the heatisland effect brought about by Jakarta's increasing population (Figure 8.6).

Rainfall over 1864 1987 increased by a mean 0.5 millimetres per year, with a highly significant positive change during the west monsoon and a nonsignificant negative change during the east monsoon. This suggests that the fluctuating rate of temperature changes could be affected by the change in the heat-balance components, which will camouflage any true global change presumed to be taking place at present.

To resolve the question of whether there is a climatic change anywhere in Indonesia which is not local in character, the Agrometeorology Group (1991) at the Bogor Agricultural University recently undertook another study. It focuses on data from climatological stations which are thought to be little affected by the development taking place in Indonesia. The preliminary result shows that of the 12 stations examined, 8 exhibited a definite change in the last 15 years. The magnitude was between 0.29 and 0.63 °C, or about 0.02-0.04 °C a year since 1970. Figure 8.7 shows the result at Kenten. It might, therefore, be assumed that there is a real change of climate in Indonesia. The negative changes found by Hidayati, for Jakarta, could perhaps be ascribed to feedbacks in one or more climatic elements, resulting from the development of the city.

Possible impact on rice

Notwithstanding the debatable magnitude of the simulated changes of climate, the study provides a basis for the estimation of potential impacts of climatic change. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) model output was used for the changed-climate scenario. The dependent variable was the yield of lowland rice in the northern coastal plain of the Citarum River basin, West lava. Results from the empirical model by Irawati (1988) showed that the yield during the January-June harvest decreased by an average of 3.6 per cent; on the other hand, that of the July-December period increased by 3.0 per cent. The annual change was an increase of 0.1 per cent on the average (Figure 8.8).

FIGURE 8.6 Annual Average Maximum Temperature against Population at Jakarta. 1916-1987

FIGURE 8.7 Monthly Average Temperature at Kenten (South Sumatra). 1975-1990

These results were checked using a basic crop growth simulation mod_l (LID), outlined by Penning de Vries et al. (1988) for the three planting seasons of 1983. It was found that while the yield of the June planting under the changed-climate scenario decreased slightly, the other two either equalled or exceeded the yield under the present climate. In Hokkaido, Japan, Yoshino et al. ( 1987) found increases of up to 25 per cent over the yield under the present climate. Thus, there is no reason to doubt the results of Irawati's model, and it may be concluded that climatic change alone would not alter rice yield seriously.

However, rice production could suffer serious set-backs from secondary causes. First, there would be heavier erosion in the upstream area, which may have to be abandoned and reforested. Secondly, some of the fertile coastal alluvial land would be inundated by the sea-level rise. The three coastal districts of the Citarum River basin would lose a total of more than 20 000 hectares of paddy fields. In the district of Subang alone, more than 25 000 hectares would be inundated, of which almost 12 000 hectares are irrigated farm lands which, with two plantings annually, produce about 110 000 tonnes of rice and almost 4 000 tonnes of maize and soya bean. To maintain the present level of the three districts' production, the yield would have to be increased by 37.5 per cent beyond the current yield.

FIGURE 8.8 Comparison of Yield Ratios under 2 x CO2 and 1 x CO2 Climate, 1974-1984

Yoshino et al. (1987) present data indicating that by planting mid-to-late maturing varieties, the negative impact of the climatic change could be reversed. In fact, with this technology, rice yield in Hokkaido could be boosted under the 2 x CO2 climate, to surpass the present yield by 16 (lowest) to 47 per cent (highest). It might therefore be necessary to switch to late-maturing varieties to balance the loss in production in the inundated coastal plains and the abandoned upstream areas. Whether this would compensate for the total loss in production remains to be tested.

One important aspect of global climatic change remains to be clarified. This is the effect of the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) content on the rate of photosynthesis. None of the models considers the increased CO2 concentration. By logic, however, the increased air temperature is expected to speed up the biochemical processes in the photosynthetic chain. In turn, the carbon intermediate sink is kept constantly large. Add to this the higher ambient CO' concentration, and the CO2 gradient would be large at all times. Even if the temperature range of CO2 assimilation, as reported by Uchijima (1975 6), is controlled by stomata! closure, the CO2 assimilation rate can be expected to be higher than at present.

Thus, rice yield could benefit from the atmospheric CO2 increase, assuming there is no reduction in the irradiance of the surface. This hypothesis needs to be tested in an environment of increased temperature and relative humidity.

Editorial comment

De Rozari particularly stressed the serious consequences of a rising sea level for Indonesia, with so much of its best rice land very close to sea level. Even a small rise might be sufficient to cause the country to lose the self-sufficiency in rice production it has attained. Especially for Java, there is a need to identify the most vulnerable areas, and to decide which of them is worth engineering protection. There is also a need to determine which upstream areas need to be abandoned and revegetated.

The problem of sea-level rise was also discussed in relation to Bangkok and southern Thailand. The question is complicated by upstream dams, behind which it is necessary to hold water during the dry season to sustain electricity generation. This has the unfortunate effect that, during the dry season, salt water reaches further inland, adversely affecting tree crops; moreover, pollution can also extend upstream, to reach the water intakes used for domestic supply. In a marginal situation, the effects of sealevel change, rainfall shortage and in terference are all present and not easy to separate. Sensitivity to the consequences of global climatic change in these environments is, however, very clearly needed.

Further comment was provided by Rerkasem of the Multiple Cropping Centre at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He too emphasized the importance of recognizing urban heat-island effects in evaluating long-term temperature trends. In regard to Yoshino's Sri Lankan data, he confirmed the generality of the relationship between rainfall and the planted area. In the lower part of northern Thailand, the transplanting time of photosensitive rice can often be upset by the unreliable onset of rainfall (CMU/CUSRI, 1983). Wet-rice fields have to be prepared as soon as the amount of soil water is adequate for ploughing. If the onset of the rains is delayed, the time available for land preparation, between ploughing and transplanting, is shortened so that, with inadequate farm labour and machinery, significant areas remain unplanted. In drought years, the reduction in the planted area can be as high as 30 per cent, and serious losses of planted cropland occur in about two years out of every five.

Rerkasem also called attention to some consequences of the thinning of the ozone layer, permitting more Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation to reach the earth's surface. This might be beneficial in altering the competitive balance between crops and weeds (IRRI, 1990). On the other hand, it may be that UV-B radiation plays a vital role in pollen germination in crop plants (Jackson and Linskens, 1979). If this were upset, then pollen failure would, if complete, cause total loss of crop yields.


THE range of environmental and related issues in South-East Asia is very wide; they cannot all be dealt with in one conference, or one book. This part takes up four subjects in some depth; two are essentially agricultural, one is a specific problem that has risen to major significance since 1982, and the other concerns the marine environment. At the conference, each of these issues, and also those treated in Part IV, was given an hour and a half in order to permit time for a full discussion. Some of these matters were covered in depth, and related areas of significance were introduced.

Chapters 9 and 10 take up questions raised above and treat them in much greater depth than in Chapters 1 and 2. The Green Revolution in rice production began in South-East Asia, at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at Los Baños in the Philippines. Since the mid-1960s, the development and diffusion of new rice varieties, and of the agro-technology required to make best use of them, have transformed food production in the region. Mainly from this cause, regional rice production has more than doubled between 1970 and 1990.

The 'father' of the rice revolution, the plant-geneticist Te-Tzu Chang, is the author of the first paper in Chapter 9. He does not dwell on achievements, however, but rather discusses the problems that have arisen to threaten the sustainability of these advances, and the management improvements that are required in order to make further progress. He offers a detailed set of prescriptions for better systems of management that could sustain gains to date, extend them to wider areas, and press some way further forward, refraining from any cornucopian prognostications arising from the new advances in biotechnology.

Chang is followed by the anthropologist James Fox, who has had deep involvement with these problems in Java. From this experience, he writes much more than just a discussant comment, but rather a companion paper that expands and further deepens the argument. The two papers in Chapter 9 are a pair, as the presentations on which they are based were a pair in Yogyakarta.

It is urged that much more attention in research and public assistance be given to farmers in the upland, unirrigated areas, and in Chapter 2, Concepcion has already stressed the growing pressures on this land. The question of the upland areas and their management is the specific topic of Allen's Chapter 10. He draws on years of field experience principally in Papua New Guinea, but in this chapter he reviews the often alarmist literature on other areas and finds important contrasts in the degree of unsustainability of upland management. He also stresses the historical recency of most steepland occupation, and the dramatic effect of new roads, new crops and new off-farm jobs in creating a destabilizing, unfamiliar situation to which today's upland farmers are trying to respond.

In discussion, Hardjono takes a more gloomy view from her research in West Java, but comes to the same basic conclusion as that reached by both Chang and Allen: a new set of public policies and attitudes in relation to the hitherto neglected upland areas is urgently required. Rerkasem takes up a question of the meaning of intensification, which was prominent in Allen's verbal presentation; this led to an exchange of practical as well as theoretical significance.

In 1982-3, large forest areas in eastern Borneo were burned and, as has already been noted, there were new fires in 1991. Wirawan has studied the real impact of these fires on forest ecology for several years, adding greatly to what is known about them, and modifying substantially some early statements about the destruction. In Chapter 11, he provides a comprehensive statement on the results of research, his own and that of others, in Kalimantan, and at the same time takes up themes earlier developed by Potter (Chapter 5) and Nicholls (Chapter 7). Some important proposals are made for better control, proposals that might advantageously be heeded in 1992 after the second set of major fires in less than a decade. The two discussants, Kartawinata and Soerianegara, broaden the scope of review to a regional level.

A large part of South-East Asia is sea, much of it quite shallow and, being at low latitude and enclosed, not often disturbed by high winds; higher-energy seas surround the Equatorial archipelago on all sides. The marine food resources are of major importance to the region's population, but the seas include principal international shipping routes, contain important oil and gas fields, and are also the sinks for a growing volume of pollution from the increasingly populous land. In Chapter 12, the only discussion of the marine environment in this book, E. D. Gomez examines this competition, and the increasing interference, and reviews the problems of managing this international environment. Discussing his paper, Soegiarto details some international initiatives, and the participation of United Nations agencies.

(introductory text...)

An overview of the 'green revolution' in south-east Asia, 1970-1989
Problems of the green revolution
Areas for future endeavour


An overview of the 'green revolution' in south-east Asia, 1970-1989

THE 'Green Revolution' in rice over the 1970s and 1980s was based mainly on the use of irrigation water, high-yielding varieties (HYVs), chemical fertilizers, and the control of insect pests by chemicals, multiple monoculture of the rice crop and various forms of government support. The combined impact of these components on rice production was most obvious in South and South-East Asia, mainland China and South Korea.

In South-East Asia, the increase in grain production was greatest in those areas where water could be regulated or used for irrigation, the rate of HYV adoption was high, quick acting fertilizers were liberally used, major insect pests were controlled by chemicals and/or varietal resistance, and attractive incentives were provided by government subsidy or price support. Growing two or more crops of rice on the same land further added to production (Chang, 1979). However, the unprecedented rise in grain yield was confined to the more favourable production environments, under irrigated and rainfed-wetland cultures, and in areas without political or military strife. Patterns of change in production vary markedly from one country to another (Barker, Herdt and Rose, 1985; Hsieh, Flinn and Amerasinghe, 1982).

Even within a favoured rice-growing region, rice yields per crop have been variable and affected by a range of factors. Climatic factors, including drought, flood, or the alternation of the two, adversely impact on grain yield over a wide region; for example, 1972 was a flood year while 1982 and 1987 were drought years. Grain yields are generally higher in the dry season than in the wet season, largely due to the difference in solar radiation intensity.

Disease and insect outbreaks have been important. Irrigation coupled with heavy nitrogen fertilizer use, and continuous monoculture of one rice variety, have together led to heavier and more widespread infestations than before. The most destructive pests were the brown planthopper and the tungro virus disease.

Variations in the supply of fertilizers at equitable costs have had notable effect. Oil crises in the 1970s, and a rise in fertilizer price since the mid-1980s, have had dampening effects on rice production (Chapman and Barker, 1987). This is the case in the Philippines where rising fertilizer costs and a stagnant rice price have resulted in production drops (David, 1988).

FIGURE 9.1 Trends in Rough Rice Production and Yield in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia, 1969-1990

FIGURE 9.2 Trends in Rough Rice Production and Yield in Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, 1969-1990

There are also other and unquantifiable elements. Government subsidies or pricesupport programmes have been a major factor in stimulating or depressing rice production. J. J. Fox (1991) and David (1988) have documented these effects for Indonesia and the Philippines, respectively. Moreover, rice farms vary greatly in area, tenure status, technology adoption, farmers' experience, capital availability and other production factors (see Barker, Herdt and Rose, 1985). With the persistence of both biological and socio-economic constraints, on-farm yields continue to lag behind those potentially attainable (K. A. Gomez, 1977). Ineffective transfer of improved technology from the researchers to the farmers accounts for part of this gap.

Historical accounts of the Green Revolution in rice have been given by Chandler (1968), Chang (1987, 1988), Dalrymple (1986) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, 1972). Herdt and Capule (1983) and Dalrymple (1986) detailed the spread and distribution of HYVs in different countries. By 1987, the HYV area in SouthEast Asia exceeded 18 million hectares (David, 1991). The contribution of specific factors (irrigation, HYV, fertilizer and others) to rice production increases in Indonesia and the Philippines during 1965-80 was studied by Herdt and Capule (1983).

Rice production in the region rose from 53.5 million tonnes in 1970 to 112.4 million tonnes in 1990. The rate of increase was 28.7 per cent during 1968-79 and 34.8 per cent during 1980 9; the corresponding yield increases were 21.4 and 23.9 per cent. Within South-East Asian countries, new technology has had little impact in Cambodia and Malaysia. Grain yield per hectare showed a small increase in Malaysia, while Cambodia experienced a distinct drop in most years due to continued military strife. Laos made a notable gain in both production and yield. Myanmar had one of the largest gains in grain yield (82 per cent in 1984); however, the three top-ranking varieties are not the HYVs (Win and Win, 1990). There was an 84 per cent yield increase in Indonesia, largely due to the new technology and government support. The Philippines and Vietnam followed with 55 and 51 per cent increases, respectively. Thailand's rice production grew by 47 per cent, but due more to increases in planted area (a peak of 30 per cent in 1985) than in grain yield which was nil (IRRI, 1988b). Production and yield changes in eight countries of the region are shown in Figures 9.1-9.2.

Problems of the green revolution

The Green Revolution in rice was certainly a much welcomed development during the late 1960s and the early 1970s when the spectre of region-wide food shortage had been forecast. It has staved off the feared crisis, but various developments associated with it have given rise to a range of new problems. Most of these problems can be attributed to the inappropriate use of new technology, but others were neglected by decision-makers (Chang, 1988).

Water Use

Costly irrigation projects have often failed to attain the expected effectiveness and efficiency of usage due to poor management. Both technical problems and human factors are involved in the disappointing result. Rising construction costs of new projects, less suitable sites for prospective projects and low returns from past efforts are important factors leading to a drop in new irrigation works (Brown, 1989; Chang, 1988). The annual rate of increase in the irrigated land area in South-East Asia has dropped from the 3-4 per cent average of 1970 85 to 1.5 per cent during 1985-8 (David, 1991). Prospects for a new expansion in irrigated land are therefore limited (IRRI, 1989; Levine et al., 1988). Moreover, nearly all irrigation works are adversely affected by silting, salination and erratic weather. Distribution systems are generally ineffective and wasteful, while water will undoubtedly become more costly. Meanwhile, irrigated land areas near urban centres are contracting at alarming rates.

Use of poor-quality underground water and excessive pumping have resulted in rising soil salinity or alkalinity which also leads to zinc deficiency. Decline in soil productivity due to the changes in soil properties is becoming more widespread (De Datta et al., 1979; Pingali, Moya and Velasco, 1990). Partly due to prohibitive costs, drainage works are generally neglected. Floods are another yield-destabilizing factor in many parts of mainland South-East Asia. In waterlogged soils, standing water of shallow depth also constrains yield.

Pest Infestation

Continuous planting of a few genetically related and similar HYVs, often under double or triple cropping over a wide area, has led to the appearance of new biotypes in variable insect pests or pathogens and to the repeated breakdown of varietal resistance of the vertical type, causing large yield fluctuations. Pest incidence was aggravated by staggered planting dates within a region (Chang, 1988). Such repeated pest infestations by the brown planthopper, causing heavy damage to rice crops, have occurred in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam (see Dyck and Thomas, 1979), and the phenomenon has been aptly described as a 'boom and bust cycle' (R. A. Robinson, 1976). Insect pests with a short life span, with inherently large variability in field population, such as the brown planthopper, can quickly react to a change in the resistance gene of the new cultivar; they do so by shifting their population structure to a different biotype that can overcome the defence mechanism (mainly of non-preference by the insect) of the newly bred cultivar. When grown under double or triple cropping, the effective life span of a resistant variety is reduced to 3-5 years. Sequential release of resistant varieties with the same lineage of descent, such as IR36, IR42, IR64 and IR70, are prone to favour rapid shifts in insect biotypes (Chang, 1984, 1988; Saxena and Barrion, 1985). A large number of the HYVs not only have the same semi-dwarfing gene (sd 1 ) but also the Cina cytoplasm, a combination that renders them more vulnerable to serious epidemics (Chang, 1984; Hargrove, Cabanilla and Coffman, 1988).

Indiscriminate use of wide-spectrum insecticides reduces the natural enemies of the rice pests and has led to the resurgence of the brown planthopper following repeated applications of the chemicals (Heinrichs and Mochida, 1984). Inappropriate application methods also raise production costs without attaining effective control, while excessive chemical residues harm the ecosystem.

Efficiency of Fertilizer Use

Most rice farmers have yet to obtain full returns from their inputs of chemical fertilizers, especially nitrogen, because of improper methods of application, principally the use of top dressing only, by delayed application (often due to delayed arrival), by poor weed control or ineffective water management, leading to leaching, volatilization or runoff. The efficiency of nitrogen fertilizers is less than 40 per cent (Craswell and Vlek, 1979; De Datta, Magnaye and Moomaw, 1968).

Restricted use of phosphorus, potassium fertilizers, other elements in the 'minor' category (calcium, sulphur, iron, silica, boron) and organic fertilizers, where nitrogen is the sole additive, may lead to an imbalance in soil nutrients. Excessive nitrogen use in some instances may have adverse environmental effects.

The 'Yield Plateau'

A record crop yield per season of 11 tonnes per hectare was established by planting IR8 and IR24 in the late 1960s (see Chang, 1988). Later releases have not surpassed the apparent yield ceiling, although the grain yield per hectare per day has been raised by 40 50 per cent in the earlier-maturing varieties. Enriching the air with carbon dioxide (CO2) could increase grain yield by 10 per cent (Yoshida, 1981). Hybrid rice may add 15-20 per cent to the yield, but the technology is beyond the reach of rice farmers in South-East Asia.

Production Costs and Government Support

The return from nitrogen use in relation to the rice price has been continuously eroding from 1 (N): 10 (rice) in 1972 to 1: 5 in the mid-1980s (Chapman and Barker, 1987). Continued rising costs of labour and chemicals, especially nitrogen fertilizers, have markedly increased the cost of production inputs all over the region. Wetland rice, especially when it is manually transplanted, will remain a labour-intensive crop. The real price of rice has been steadily declining on the world market since 1976 (David,1991) and will continue to do so (World Bank, 1990c) because of the cheaper price of wheat. Unless government support continues or the output/input ratio is raised, the incentive for increased yield quickly disappears. The Philippines and Indonesia have experienced difficulties in maintaining a balanced rice economy after attaining self-sufficiency. Massive and continued government support became burdensome. In contrast, continued production increases in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam were sustained by expanding export markets.

While the main beneficiaries of the Green Revolution are the HYV adopters, the rice consumers and the government, most urban consumers are not aware of the farmer's arduous role in increasing food production. As a result, rice farmers often lack public support when they face problems beyond their ability to cope. In most areas, rice farmers have yet to organize themselves into community-wide organizations such as rural cooperatives, irrigation associations and seed producers' associations.

Change in Farming Systems

Wherever higher rice yields can be obtained with the new technology, farmers tend to replace other crops in the production system, often a legume, by planting another crop of rice. Similarly, the area planted with a green manuring crop in the winter season has also declined in the 1970s and 1980s. These changes may affect human nutrition in terms of plant-protein supply. A legume crop in the winter season not only helps to sustain soil productivity but also interrupts the continuous presence of rice plants in the field-one means of reducing rice pest populations. Although no serious malnutrition has been reported from HYV areas' milled rice alone, containing sufficient protein and essential amino acids to support a labouring adult, is inadequate to meet the needs of a growing child (Hegsted, 1969).

Equity among Rice Farmers

During the 1970s, socio-economic scientists were concerned about the income gap between large and small rice farmers who adopted the new technology. After years of extensive research and surveys, such a fear proved to be largely unfounded (Anderson et al., 1985; Herdt and Capule, 1983; Kikuchi and Hayami, 1982). On the other hand, the gap between farmers in favoured (irrigated and well-watered rainfed-wetland) areas and subsistence fanners in rainfed areas, especially the dryland and deepwater environments, continues to widen. The subsistence farmers have yet to benefit from modern technology (IRRI, 1989).

Another little appreciated fact is that rice can support more people per hectare of land than other cereals (Lu and Chang, 1980); hence, human population growth usually accompanies the adoption of irrigated rice (Chang, 1987; Hanks, 1972). The positive association between rice-production increases and population growth can be readily gleaned from available statistical data. While the adoption of HYVs has levelled off in the major rice-growing nations of tropical Asia, human expansion continues at an unabated pace (Brown, 1989; Concepcion, Chapter 2).

Areas for future endeavour

With a view to stimulating discussion, the following areas for future endeavour are proposed:

1. Water use must be made more efficient and less detrimental to soil productivity-irrigation projects in South-East Asian nations are rapidly reaching affordable limits. Conserving the existing resources and maximizing water-use efficiency for rice and other crops in the rotation system are of paramount importance to sustained land productivity. Rice is very much a water-consuming plant (King, 1966). Wasteful irrigation practices must be curbed. Varietal differences in water-use efficiency should be explored and implemented. Meanwhile, the use of gravity-flow or underground water of high salt content must be controlled in order to check salination.

2. The restoration of biotic diversity in major cultivars is an important area of concern. Host resistance can be made more effective and durable only when the genetic diversity in commercial cultivars is reinstated, resistance genes are appropriately deployed for different seasons and/or areas and in relation to the prevalent races of the rice pest. More stable forms of pest resistance need to be developed. In addition, varietal mixtures, multiline varieties and intercropping will help to slow down population changes in a pest. New resistance genes may be exploited in distantly related grasses.

3. Chemical fertilizers should be used more efficiently in combination with other plant nutrients or soil ameliorants. The efficiency of nitrogen fertilizers can be raised significantly by improved formulation, deep placement in the soil, proper water management and weed control, and more refined timing in top dressing. The addition of other mineral elements will help to remedy nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. Supplementing chemical fertilizers with organic matter promotes a productive soil structure in the long run, and biological nitrogen fixation on subsistence farms will boost production and reduce costs.

4. Innovations from biotechnology have to be widely implemented. In addition to the popular focus on genetical engineering by molecular manipulations, equally fertile areas of application exist in the biological control of insects and diseases and the enhancement of biological nitrogen fixation by soil microbes. Research by multidisciplinary teams of scientists will open up new fields for crop production by diverse means. Concurrent developments in cellular and molecular biology have already demonstrated promise in tapping useful genes in novel gerrnplasm of distant relatives, especially when the rice plant is well adapted to tissue culture and cellular manipulation (Chang and Li, 1991).

The rice plant can also increase its tolerance to waterlogged conditions and provide potential for root-zone nitrogen fixation to other dryland cereals by virtue of its aerenchyma tissues in the stems and roots-a feature that may grow in importance as the global warming trend leads to sea-level rises and flooding in coastal or lowlying areas (Chang and Vaughan, 1991).

Rice is a C3 plant and, therefore, relatively poor in both photosynthetic efficiency and water use compared to C4 plants such as maize, sorghum and sugar-cane. Biotechnological advances may improve the efficiency of rice in these aspects through wide hybridization and gene transfer by tapping the gene-pool in C4 grasses (Chang and Vaughan, 1991). In the more immediate future, improving the harvest index of rice varieties from 0.5 to 0.6 appears to be an attainable goal in raising grain production in proportion to the total biomass of the plant. A yield of up to 15 tonnes per hectare for irrigated rice in the Tropics is a plausible target (Akita, 1989).

5. Improved production technology plays a vital role in lowering costs. The need to improve the output/input ratio in rice production can be met by developing innovations that will reduce labour use and time lag in growing the labour-intensive rice crop. Better soil tillage tools, seeders, fertilizer applicators, transplanters, weeders, reapers and grain threshers are in various stages of development. As the movement of rural males to urban areas will continue and expand, an increasing proportion of the on-farm chores is being handled by women and children. New machinery and tools should be gender neutral so that they will ease the manual chores rather than displace the workers; hence, small family-sized machinery will win initial acceptance, while larger machinery run on a community-wide co-operative basis will be more efficient.

6. Improved farming practices incorporating traditional agrosystem conservation methods and cropping patterns can be promoted. Crop diversification effectively reduces pest epidemics, increases plant-protein supply and helps to sustain land productivity. A legume, or green manuring crop, would grow during the winter months in many areas, while wetland-rice cultivation and aquaculture could be complementary. In hilly areas, practices such as interplanting of different crops, hedge-row planting and terracing will reduce soil erosion. Agroforestry is a new promising venture for such areas and diversified farming generally boosts and stabilizes farm income.

7. Increased aid to subsistence farmers in rainfed areas requires effective action programmes. Dryland, deepwater and tidal swamps occupy about 22 per cent of the total rice land area in South-East Asia. These farmers have not benefited from the modern technology that launched the Green Revolution or received sufficient public assistance. Their concentration in environmentally fragile areas poses a great threat to the ecosystem of the adjacent regions, especially those downstream. Such a vulnerable situation exists particularly in the case of upland (dryland) rice in hilly areas. Variable water supply, low soil productivity and meagre production inputs are common denominators in all three types of rice culture. The indispensable varietal improvement efforts should be reinforced by affordable production packages that will sustain land productivity.

In upland areas, soil erosion can be reduced by zero tillage, interplanting rice with deep-rooted plants, mulching the soil surface, and contour planting or terracing. Soil nutrient supply can be augmented by crop-diversification schemes including legumes, and nutrient recycling expanded by crop-livestock integration. The upland rice plant can be modified to develop more extensive roots and a greater competitiveness with weeds.

In deepwater and tidal swamp ecosystems, rice varieties with increased tolerance to variable water depth and adverse soil factors are needed so that more stable crop production, rather than unrealistic yield increases, can be attained. Ratooning-allowing new shoots to grow from basal stems after cropping-and green manuring would raise cropping intensity, while fish production could be incorporated into the farming system. Pest control should rely more on genetic resistance and biological control rather than chemical control. Among the different rice cultures in South-East Asia, the deepwater and tidal wetlands offer greater potential for expanded rice cultivation.

Production constraints in rainfed areas are more location- and season-specific than in the irrigated areas. Rainfed rice cultures also suffer from a lack of experiment stations and trained workers to handle the complicated production problems in their areas. Therefore, on-farm testing will assume a greater importance in research and development before the improved technology is passed on to the growers. Rice farmers themselves need to be closely involved in the testing process, more as partners than mere recipients.

Above and beyond the above scientific endeavours, greater inputs into the politico/socio-economic aspects of agricultural reconstruction are imperative to meeting the future demand for rice. National policy makers must exercise strong and clear political will, in helping the beleaguered rice farmers in obtaining equitable returns from rice cultivation. The close association between a balanced national rice policy and steady growth in rice production in a given country is apparent in each of the South-East Asian countries (Parker, Herdt and Rose, 1985; David, 1988; J. J. Fox, Chapter 9A; IFPRI, 1977) and also indicated in Figures 9.1 and 9.2. On the other hand, government policies need to be periodically reviewed and modified in the light of changing circumstances. Support from the general public will add weight to the farmers' voice in the decisionmaking process (Chang, 1988).

Rice farmers themselves need to be more strongly organized in production and marketing activities. There is ample evidence to show the increased effectiveness of organized farm communities in dealing with irrigation works, integrated-pest management practices, use of modern farm machinery, and communal use of seedling nurseries, grain combines, grain driers, pure-seed nurseries and mechanized transplanters (J. J. Fox, 1991; Shen, 1974). Grain godowns and rice mills can be set up on a community basis in anticipation of increased production. South-East Asian countries can learn from the successful experience of Taiwan in the early 1970s (Shen, 1974).

Technology transfer from the rice researchers to the growers has been a weak link in raising on-farm yields even after the improved technology is proven sound and workable. Many extension workers in the region lack farming expertise and experience which are essential in winning the farmers" confidence. Their numbers are insufficient for the widely scattered farms, although the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has devoted many resources to the training of extension workers in rice production (IRRI, 1985). Again, Taiwan's experience shows the importance of vocational schools in producing innovative farmers and production specialists. Most countries in the region do not provide sufficient educational opportunities for promising farm youth, who wish to pursue a career in agriculture.

In the developing countries, their limited national research resources could be more fully used if nations facing common problems formed a research consortium to share gerrnplasm, research findings and expertise. Such networks for rainfed-wetland, deepwater, tidal-swamp and dryland rice were initiated in tropical Asia during the 1980s, with the IRRI serving as the co-ordinating agency.

In conclusion, all sectors of society must collaborate in conserving a productive and sustainable rice ecosystem which is vital to future food security in the region. Rice farmers need increased help in order to continue their lifelong service to mankind. It will be an unprecedented challenge for all concerned to maintain rice production increase at the annual rate of 2.6 per cent over the 1990s (World Food Council, 1991) in order to cope with the projected human population expansion.

(introductory text...)

An outline of Indonesia's achievements in the green revolution
The problems of expanding production in Indonesia
Assessing the yield potential of the green revolution
Diminishing biotic diversity and increasing vulnerability
Facing the problems of sustainability
Rice production and sustainability in the 1990s
Editorial comment



THE range of environmental and related issues in South-East Asia is very wide; they cannot all be dealt with in one conference, or one book. This part takes up four subjects in some depth; two are essentially agricultural, one is a specific problem that has risen to major significance since 1982, and the other concerns the marine environment. At the conference, each of these issues, and also those treated in Part IV, was given an hour and a half in order to permit time for a full discussion. Some of these matters were covered in depth, and related areas of significance were introduced.

Chapters 9 and 10 take up questions raised above and treat them in much greater depth than in Chapters 1 and 2. The Green Revolution in rice production began in South-East Asia, at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at Los Baños in the Philippines. Since the mid-1960s, the development and diffusion of new rice varieties, and of the agro-technology required to make best use of them, have transformed food production in the region. Mainly from this cause, regional rice production has more than doubled between 1970 and 1990.

The 'father' of the rice revolution, the plant-geneticist Te-Tzu Chang, is the author of the first paper in Chapter 9. He does not dwell on achievements, however, but rather discusses the problems that have arisen to threaten the sustainability of these advances, and the management improvements that are required in order to make further progress. He offers a detailed set of prescriptions for better systems of management that could sustain gains to date, extend them to wider areas, and press some way further forward, refraining from any cornucopian prognostications arising from the new advances in biotechnology.

Chang is followed by the anthropologist James Fox, who has had deep involvement with these problems in Java. From this experience, he writes much more than just a discussant comment, but rather a companion paper that expands and further deepens the argument. The two papers in Chapter 9 are a pair, as the presentations on which they are based were a pair in Yogyakarta.

It is urged that much more attention in research and public assistance be given to farmers in the upland, unirrigated areas, and in Chapter 2, Concepcion has already stressed the growing pressures on this land. The question of the upland areas and their management is the specific topic of Allen's Chapter 10. He draws on years of field experience principally in Papua New Guinea, but in this chapter he reviews the often alarmist literature on other areas and finds important contrasts in the degree of unsustainability of upland management. He also stresses the historical recency of most steepland occupation, and the dramatic effect of new roads, new crops and new off-farm jobs in creating a destabilizing, unfamiliar situation to which today's upland farmers are trying to respond.

In discussion, Hardjono takes a more gloomy view from her research in West Java, but comes to the same basic conclusion as that reached by both Chang and Allen: a new set of public policies and attitudes in relation to the hitherto neglected upland areas is urgently required. Rerkasem takes up a question of the meaning of intensification, which was prominent in Allen's verbal presentation; this led to an exchange of practical as well as theoretical significance.

In 1982-3, large forest areas in eastern Borneo were burned and, as has already been noted, there were new fires in 1991. Wirawan has studied the real impact of these fires on forest ecology for several years, adding greatly to what is known about them, and modifying substantially some early statements about the destruction. In Chapter 11, he provides a comprehensive statement on the results of research, his own and that of others, in Kalimantan, and at the same time takes up themes earlier developed by Potter (Chapter 5) and Nicholls (Chapter 7). Some important proposals are made for better control, proposals that might advantageously be heeded in 1992 after the second set of major fires in less than a decade. The two discussants, Kartawinata and Soerianegara, broaden the scope of review to a regional level.

A large part of South-East Asia is sea, much of it quite shallow and, being at low latitude and enclosed, not often disturbed by high winds; higher-energy seas surround the Equatorial archipelago on all sides. The marine food resources are of major importance to the region's population, but the seas include principal international shipping routes, contain important oil and gas fields, and are also the sinks for a growing volume of pollution from the increasingly populous land. In Chapter 12, the only discussion of the marine environment in this book, E. D. Gomez examines this competition, and the increasing interference, and reviews the problems of managing this international environment. Discussing his paper, Soegiarto details some international initiatives, and the participation of United Nations agencies.

An outline of Indonesia's achievements in the green revolution

If one focuses too narrowly on agriculture, it is possible to overlook the fundamental changes that were required for the effective adoption of the new technology in a large nation such as Indonesia. To achieve its goals, Indonesia had, first of all, to establish an agricultural support system consisting of: (i) an entire network of seed-production facilities to produce HYVs of rice; (ii) research facilities with experimental stations throughout the country to provide the knowledge necessary to adapt the technology to local conditions and to monitor its development; (iii) an extension service with the capacity to instruct and inform farmers in new methods of agriculture; and (iv) an administrative bureaucracy able to direct national policy to local areas.

Indonesia, however, had to do far more than just provide an agricultural infrastructure. It also had to make major investments to: (i) improve its irrigation systems; (ii) develop a massive fertilizer industry to support agricultural production; and (iii) create a national transport and storage network for distributing agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, and a further network of storage facilities for rice and other agricultural products.

Furthermore, it was necessary to establish an entire rural banking system to channel credit to rice farmers to assist them in their initial adoption of the new inputs. In addition, a network of local co-operatives was created to support farmers. Finally, but no less important, Indonesia had to establish and coordinate a management and logistic planning authority with the capacity to oversee and adjust a pricing policy that would maintain a favourable relationship between rice and fertilizer to foster production. (2)

That Indonesia managed to achieve its principal goals during the course of two decades is a well-known story. (For a recent account, see J. J. Fox,1991.) In the late 1960s and in the 1970s, Indonesia was the largest rice-importing nation on the world market. By 1985, it had achieved technical sell:sufficiency in rice, had reserve rice stocks of approximately 2 million tonnes and, though not exporting rice, was involved in 'lending' rice to Vietnam and the Philippines. At the start of the rice intensification programme, production averaged around 11 million tonnes of milled rice. By the mid-1980s, it had more than doubled to over 25 million tonnes and by 1989, it had reached 30 million tonnes. By the late 1980s, Indonesia had become a major producer (and exporter) of urea fertilizer, capable of an annual production of over 5 million tonnes of urea. It was also producing over 1 million tonnes of triple super-phosphate and more than 650 million tonnes of ammonium sulphate. Irrigation systems, particularly in Java, had undergone substantial rehabilitation and improvement. The country also had, as a result of its rice programme, a network of over 5,000 rural banks that had begun by providing subsidized credit for rice; and by the 1980s, they had developed into institutions offering both general rural credit and attractive rural savings plans. Furthermore, most indicators showed a marked improvement in the rural standard of living.

Thus, as Indonesia entered the new decade of the 1990s, it could claim enormous success in achieving its goal of increasing rice production, in modernizing its agricultural capacities, and in improving the welfare of its population. The problems faced appeared to be those created by success. Yet at no time in the previous decades was there a greater concern with issues of sustainability and a greater uneasiness about the possibilities of future production increase. There were several reasons for this situation which need to be considered in relation to past practices.

The problems of expanding production in Indonesia

Each year from 1967 to 1989-with two exceptions, 1972 and 1975-saw an increase both in production and yields in Indonesia. In 1990, however, production steadied and then, in the dry El Niño year of 1991, actually declined slightly. During two previous El Niño episodes in the 1980s, there were continued increases in both production and yield, despite the lack of rain. The question whether Indonesia was reaching some son of yield plateau was asked.

Indonesia's goal in its rice intensification programme was to achieve maximum production; but initially she felt it necessary to attain self-sufficiency. Once selfsufficiency was reached, production increases were still needed, not just to match population growth but also to meet the growing demand for rice from an increasingly prosperous population. A strategy of maximum production meant laying stress on the most favourable growing areas with ready access to high inputs. Begun in 1987, the Indonesian government's programme (known as Supra Insus) was a high]y regimented plan directed towards this end. (3) The favoured areas in Indonesia were the four provinces of Java and a number of other important rice-growing provinces: Bali, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara and South Kalimantan. Thus, 11 out of 27 provinces were the mainstays of Indonesian rice production.

The island of Java has consistently contributed about 63 per cent to total production since the beginning of Indonesia's rice intensification programme (J. J. Fox, 1992). The key to this increased output on Java was not the opening up of new cultivation areas but the more effective utilization of existing land- higher cropping intensity and improved yields from established irrigated rice fields (sawah). Elsewhere in the country, production was less dependent on increasing intensity and yields, and more on the opening up of new growing areas. Yield figures highlight this difference between Java and the other islands. Java's average yields rose from 2.58 tonnes per hectare in 1968 to 4.98 tonnes per hectare by 1989, whereas yields elsewhere only rose from 2.15 tonnes per hectare in 1968 to 3.52 tonnes per hectare by 1989 (J. J. Fox, 1991: 80). Thus, during the period of its intensification programme, Indonesia experienced a widening gap in yields between Java and the rest of the country. Moving into the 1990s, Indonesia faced two questions: whether Java's yields would continue to increase, and whether the other islands would begin to close the gap with Java in yields, following its pattern of intensification.

The context for these questions was set by developments in Java itself as rapid industrialization, the growth of urban centres, and the demand for more residential and industrial land exerted pressure to take prime agricultural land out of production for other uses. Although the government took measures to shift more sugar-cane planting from lowland sawah to upland fields in the late 1980s and, in the longer term, to shift its cultivation from Java to Sumatra, other high-value crops began to be planted more extensively on sawah, thus further reducing the availability of this land for the production of rice.

Assessing the yield potential of the green revolution

Chang notes that the crop yield per season of 11 tonnes per hectare was set by two of the earliest HYVs, IR8 and IR24. Later varieties have not delivered similar yields, although some, with shorter maturing times, have surpassed these levels calculated on a yield per hectare per day basis. A yield of 11 tonnes per hectare, even though under ideal trial conditions, is significantly higher than the average of either 3, 4 or even 5 tonnes per hectare reported for other parts of South-East Asia. The evidence would seem to indicate that there are no inherent biotic constraints to prevent rice yields from continuing to increase from their current levels. Although there still remain various uncertainties about the use of hybrid technology for rice, especially in the Tropics, development of such hybrid strains may also offer the possibility of further yield increases in the future.

If there is one lesson that farmers in Indonesia have learned-if indeed they ever had to learn what they already knew-it is that quality seed is crucial for high production. Despite serious set-backs shortly after the HYVs were introduced, these varieties ultimately proved their worth to farmers in those growing environments where they were indeed suitable. Overzealous government initiatives to foist these varieties into environments where they were clearly unsuited only undermined the credibility of government efforts.

It takes a number of successive generations to breed a new variety of rice in sufficient quantities to be distributed to farmers for planting in their fields. Early in its intensification programme, in addition to establishing government nurseries, Indonesia introduced a colour-coded certification system to identify for farmers the quality and 'generation' of the seed that was being sold. Generally-or at least, ideally-farmers, particularly those in Java, would then use this seed and its progeny for three successive seasons before obtaining 'new generation' seed from a nursery source. In pursuit of higher yields, the government endeavoured, in the late 1980s, to provide and to foster the planting of 'first-generation' seed for each planting season. By this time, however, the range of HYVs available to farmers was limited to a tiny fraction of the total number that had been bred for introduction. The biotic diversity of rice in Indonesia, as indeed throughout South-East Asia, had been greatly diminished.

Diminishing biotic diversity and increasing vulnerability

Chang is not only responsible for initiating the Green Revolution in rice. Through his work of genetic conservation at the IRRI and as Director of its Germplasm Center, he is also responsible for exerting exceptional efforts to lessen some of the most seriously detrimental consequences of the rapid spread of HYVs of rice. Rice is a self-pollinating plant that readily pollinates across contiguous fields, thus continuously producing new varieties. Over millennia, as rice spread throughout South-East Asia, it developed enormous local variability. In Indonesia alone, it is estimated that there were well over 8,000 traditional cultivars of rice (Bernsten, Siwi and Beachell, 1982: 8). The greater part of this variety (and the even greater range found elsewhere in South-East Asia) was displaced in less than a decade by the new HYVs. From a historical perspective, the dissemination of the new varieties of rice at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s was indeed explosive.

Many researchers (Barker, Herdt and Rose, 1985; Dalrymple, 1986; Hargrove, Cabanilla and Coffman, 1985; and Hargrove, Coffman and Cabanilla, 1979, among others) have noted the rapidity with which the new HYVs were adopted by farmers and also by breeders in national breeding centres, where first-release varieties were used as genetic material for developing new, local high-yielding types. Thus, for example, the semi-dwarf variety IR8 was released in 1966. By the late 1960s, it is estimated that approximately 25 per cent of Asia's rice land was planted with IR8 or similar semi-dwarf varieties and about 40 per cent by 1984 (Hargrove, Cabanilla and Coffman, 1985: 3). By 1982, the IRRI estimated that just one variety, IR36, was grown on 11 million hectares of rice land, making it the most widely grown strain of any crop at any time in world history ( IRRI, 1982).

The spread of the new HYVs in Indonesia was certainly as rapid as elsewhere in South-East Asia and possibly more far-reaching in its effects on other rice varieties. Basically, there were four phases to the dissemination process of new strains in Indonesia's rice intensification programme (J. J. Fox, 1991). The first phase from 1967 to 1974 involved three important IRRI varieties derived maternally from the Indonesian variety, Petal These varieties were IR5, IR8 and C4 (the last was developed at the University of the Philippines). Others were bred from these. Two closely related 'sister' varieties, Pelita 1 and 2, were bred in Indonesia from IR5, IR22 and IR24 (the last two were derived from IR8). By the 1974-5 wet-rice season, approximately 53 per cent of the country's irrigated rice consisted of four varieties: IR5, IR8, C4 and Pelita. Pelita varieties alone accounted for 26 per cent of all irrigated rice. In seven years, Indonesia's rice production increased by over 34 per cent, but it was at this stage in the mid-1970s that the rice programme suffered its first major set-back, a severe outbreak of a hitherto minor pest, the brown plant-hopper (BPH: Nilaparvata lugens Stal.).

This outbreak and a succession of similar BPH infestations that continued for several years through to the late 1970s required a shift to the use of 'pest-resistant' seed varieties in an attempt to protect against planthopper devastation. The second phase of Indonesia's intensification programme involved a search for new pest-resistant varieties. The IRRI was able to release several new varieties of rice-again involving further breeding of Peta-that were resistant to the BPH. Six of these-IR26 and IR30, released in 1975 and IR24, IR28, IR32 and IR34, in 1976-were quickly adopted to replace earlier nonresistant varieties. However, the sequential release of these resistant varieties, all with similar parentage, provided the conditions whereby rapidly developing populations of the BPH could quickly adapt to feed upon them. Their 'resistance' was quickly overcome and Indonesia continued to experience severe BPH outbreaks. Only with the release of IR36 in 1977-also derived from Peta but with a far more complex array of genetic resistance-were the BPH outbreaks of the 1970s overcome. By this time, the 1979-80 wet season, 67 per cent of all irrigated fields were planted with HYVs, and in many areas, this planting was dominated by one particular variety, IR36.

The third phase of Indonesia's intensification programme, through to the mid-1980s, saw the continuing importance of IR36, and also the introduction of locally bred rice varieties that were well-adapted to local conditions. These varieties bore Indonesian names such as Cisadane, Cimandiri, Cipunegara, Sadang and Krueng Aceh. Two of these, Cisadane and Krueng Aceh, surpassed IR36 both in taste and yield potential. Together, these three important and popular varieties-Cisadane, Krueng Aceh and IR36-carried Indonesia to its targeted goal of self-sufficiency in 1984. Between 1968 and 1984, production had grown from 11.38 to 25.93 million tonnes per hectare of milled rice, an increase of over 127 per cent. Shortly after achieving this goal, Indonesia began to experience new outbreaks of the BPH on its widely planted new varieties of rice, such as Cisadane and Krueng Aceh. Separate outbreaks had begun earlier in Sumatra on IR42, a sister variety of IR36; IR36 resistance to the BPH, however, continued to hold.

Indonesia's response to these new, and potentially more threatening, outbreaks involved, as in the past, the release of a new resistant variety of rice, IR64. More importantly, this response was also directed to some of the ecological causes of the problem. By beginning to take account of the ecological factors required to sustain production, this new response marked the next phase in Indonesia's intensification programme, recognizing that these factors meant rethinking the original assumptions that pervaded the 'packet' of technical recommendations disseminated as part of the Green Revolution.

Facing the problems of sustainability

New Genetic Material

The crucial technology of the Green Revolution consisted of important new genetic material: short, stiff-strawed, photoperiod-insensitive rice varieties that tillered profusely and produced heavy panicles of grain. These varieties were highly responsive to nitrogen fertilizers but, unlike taller varieties which tend to fall over as their stalks lengthen, a high proportion of the uptake of nitrogen in the new HYVs went into the production of grain. Because of this capacity to utilize nitrogen, an essential requirement of the technology was increased application of nitrogen fertilizers. Other fertilizers were critical but nitrogen fertilizers were essential.

The 'appropriate' level of application is in fact a complex question and one that has continued to confront farmers, policy makers and scientists alike. The solution varies, depending on whether concern is with affordability, with improved average yields or with maximum yields. Indonesia's national strategy called for maximum yields and thus, from the outset of the programme, it committed itself to a substantial fertilizer subsidy.

Efficiency is a further issue of importance (De Datta, 1987). Since studies have shown that in applying urea on to flooded rice fields, there is an average recovery of only 30 per cent of the fertilizer nitrogen by the rice crop, much research and experimentation has been directed to improving the efficiency of fertilizer management. More generally, the effects of high levels of fertilizer use on the environment are also important. The production of methane from flooded fields, and the more pressing concern with nitrate and phosphorus contamination of rivers, aquifers and surface water are questions to be addressed.

Fertilizer Subsidy

Indonesia's fertilizer subsidy began as a subsidy for nitrogen; but by the end of the 1970s, it had become a general subsidy for all fertilizers used for rice (urea, ammonium sulphate, triple superphosphate and potassium chloride). This subsidy provided rice farmers with all their fertilizer requirements, regardless of their different costs, at a single, relatively low farm-gate price. Generous subsidies, coupled with the government's own high fertilizer recommendations, prompted farmers to adopt application levels that were some of the highest in all of South-East Asia. By the time Indonesia achieved self-sufficiency in the mid-1980s, the cost of this fertilizer subsidy had ballooned to approximately one-third of the entire development budget. This increasing subsidy was itself unsustainable and forced a re-evaluation. In the late 1980s, while still continuing to expand its production, Indonesia began to reduce the levels of its fertilizer subsidy, to create a differential price structure for nitrogen and non-nitrogen fertilizers, and to reduce its official recommendations for the application of fertilizers, especially triple superphosphate. Having urged farmers over the decades to increase their use of fertilizers, the government found it a daunting task to persuade farmers to begin immediately to reduce their application levels.

Pest Control

The third element of the technology of the Green Revolution involved the use of modern pesticides to prevent crop loss and ensure high production. In retrospect, it is possible to see the profound effect of pesticide use on shaping the Green Revolution and development of its essential seed component. Initial introduction and rapid adoption of a small number of closely related HYVs reduced genetic diversity. Genetic uniformity invariably sets the stage for widening crop vulnerability to disease and destruction by insects. The heavy and routine use of pesticides, high applications of nitrogen fertilizers, the closer spacing of plants, and a continuous monocrop culture involving double or triple cropping-all these practices in combination-also increased vulnerability. As the risks of crop loss increased, the use of pesticides escalated. Farmers throughout Indonesia were instructed in the use of pesticides which were often represented as 'medicine' for growing plants. They were advised to conduct spraying at regular intervals during the growing cycle. Pesticides were subsidized by the government at levels that often exceeded that for fertilizers and were included in the various formal packets of the intensification programme. Periodic outbreaks of BPH infestations appeared to confirm for farmers the need for regular pesticide use and, on irrigated rice in particular, this rose steadily.


Indonesia's use of pesticides was in line with that of other countries in Asia. Despite increasing applications, in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, BPH outbreaks occurred not just in Indonesia but throughout South-East Asia, India and China. Why a minor pest of rice that had previously merited no more than a footnote in the standard textbooks should suddenly become the major pest threat to rice in all of Asia became the subject of intensive investigation. Gradually, in the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s, the phenomenon of 'resurgence' began to be understood. The answer lay in understanding the complex balance of predator-prey relationships that had developed and persisted over centuries in the rice-growing environments of Asia. As the evidence began to accumulate, it became clear that the BPH was an extremely vulnerable rice pest. IRRI researchers identified well over 100 predators or parasites that preyed upon the BPH. Its great strength was its ability to breed and spread rapidly. This breeding capacity gave it enormous powers of resurgence, which none of its predators possessed.

The BPH is a fast-breeding invader pest. It has a short generation time, high fertility, enormous tolerance of crowding and tremendous mobility, thanks to its complex development cycle that produces winged progeny every other generation. Lodged in the stalks of rice, the eggs of the BPH survive, sheltered from insecticide spraying; and, as the larvae of these hoppers emerge, they suck the juices of the rice plant. In large numbers, they are capable of sucking a healthy green crop of rice to a withered, 'burnt' brown in the course of a day or two. At severe infestation levels, the spread of the BPH is rapid and relentless, resulting in widespread devastation known as 'hopperburn'.

This pest presents a double danger. It is also the carrier of a virus that causes a disease technically known as 'grassy stunt', which manifests itself in what superficially resembles a normal verdant crop but, in fact, the rice plants do not form grains. The result is an empty harvest. Often, this disease appears in the crop that follows a heavy infestation of the BPH. Another hopper-the green planthopper-is the carrier of a more serious virus known as tungro. Together, the two planthoppers, if not kept in balance, offer formidable threats to rice cultivation.

The introduction and increased use of broad-spectrum insecticides that accompanied the dissemination of high-yielding rice-seed varieties altered predator-prey relationships in sawah environments. Certain insecticides were more damaging to the parasites and predators of the BPH-useful spiders, beetles and dragonflies-than they were to their intended target. In effect, insecticides actually cleared the way for the BPH by destroying its natural enemies, allowing it enormous scope to burst forth, expand and multiply. Sublethal doses of insecticides may even have stimulated female reproduction. Retrospective interpretation of the evidence from the 1970s, based on IRRI research findings, indicates quite clearly that the BPH outbreaks that disrupted Indonesia's intensification programme from 1974 to 1979 were insecticide-induced (Heinrichs and Mochida, 1984: Kenmore et al., 1984). By the mid-1980s, instead of continuing to emphasize the value of pesticides, the IRRI began to insist on the 'judicious' use of such chemicals, to support an increasing variety of research on biological controls, and to recommend the newly rediscovered strategies of integrated pest management (IPM). (4)

By 1979 in Indonesia, with the introduction of reliable resistant varieties such as IR36, the need for insecticides should have receded. Instead, pesticide usage increased dramatically. Subsidies on pesticides, whose real costs were not borne by farmers themselves, tended to promote indiscriminate and injudicious use: and excessive application had the effect of accelerating natural selection by BPH populations to allow them to feed on previously resistant varieties of rice. To a certain extent, it can be said that Indonesia, by its pesticide subsidy, proceeded to finance its subsequent BPH outbreak in the mid-1980s.

Faced with an outbreak situation potentially more threatening than any in the 1970s, President Suharto adopted the advice of his national scientific advisers. On 5 November 1986, he personally issued a presidential decree (INPRES, 3/1986) embodying a series of ecological measures to overcome the spread of the BPH. The most prominent of these measures was a ban-for use on rice-on 57 varieties of insecticides (including the entire spectrum of organo-phosphates) implicated as resurgence-causing agents. Only certain carbamates were allowed to be used in severe outbreak conditions. The decree also recommended the use of a new, highly effective juvenile hormone that prevented the development of the BPH to reproductive maturity. The presidential ban was immediately implemented with remarkable effectiveness for the 1986 7 rainy season.


More importantly, for the long-term prospects of the Green Revolution, the decree embodied a commitment to a national policy of IPM that replaced regular calendar spraying with a range of biological and cultural controls, plus judicious spraying only after identifiable thresholds of insects were exceeded. With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Indonesia also committed itself to the training of 2.5 million farmers in the techniques of IPM. Furthermore within two years of the decree, Indonesia reduced and then eliminated all subsidies for pesticides.

From an international ecological standpoint, Suharto's decision in November 1986 is of fundamental importance. Having the previous year been awarded recognition for the success of Indonesia's intensification programme, Suharto took the decision to give priority to biological, as opposed to largely chemical, means of pest management. Indonesia is the first country in the world to take such a major step to protect its primary crop, and its continuing success from 1987 to 1990 in increasing production should have demonstrated to the world that IPM methods are viable and effective.

Rice production and sustainability in the 1990s

In assessing Indonesia's achievements in its rice intensification programme, it is insufficient to call attention only to remarkable yield improvements and spectacular production increases or simply to emphasize the enormous developments that have occurred in agricultural infrastructure and supporting rural institutions. It is also important to point to the ways in which Indonesia has modified the original technology of the Green Revolution. As it entered the 1990s, Indonesia continued to develop its national programme of IPM and was endeavouring in stages, without altering its commitment to higher rice production, to reduce its overuse of fertilizers and the subsidies that promoted such actions. Both of these initiatives, begun in the late 1980s, mark a dramatic change in direction from the policies of earlier intensification efforts.

However, in one vital respect-its genetic base-Indonesia's rice production is more precariously poised than in the early 1970s. In the early 1990s, a smaller set of HYVs accounts for a larger percentage of Indonesia's total rice harvest than at any time in the past. In the 1989-90 rainy season, four IRRI varieties of rice-IR64, IR36, IR42 and IR46-plus two Indonesian-bred varieties-Cisadane and Krueng Aceh-accounted for all sawah rice planted in Indonesia. Three of these varieties-Cisadane, IR64 and IR36-made up over 55 per cent of all irrigated rice. In Java, Indonesia's major riceproducing island, this proportion is even more pronounced: in the 1989-90 rainy season, the top three varieties accounted for 79 per cent of sawah rice planting. All these highly productive varieties are closely related, share the same semi-dwarfing gene and possess the Cina cytoplasm (Chang, Chapter 9; J. J. Fox, 1991; Hargrove, Cabanilla and Coffman, 1985; Hargrove, Coffman and Cabanilla, 1979).

Figure 9.3 provides, in a single consolidated pedigree, a graphic representation of all the major rice varieties (shown in dark outlined boxes) with Cina cytoplasm that have been planted in Indonesia. The figure includes the early 'improved varieties' that preceded the IRRI varieties that were introduced into Indonesia in the late 1960s. Of all the varieties shown on this pedigree, only a few are still planted in the early 1990s. (Indonesia's six principal varieties in 1989-90 are shown in shaded boxes.) Thus, as Indonesia's production has increased, it has come to rely on an ever more slender genetic base. The potential risks from bacterial, viral or pest attack are too great to allow this situation to continue through the 1990s. The varietal basis of Indonesia's rice production must be diversified to provide security for its production.

FIGURE 9.3 Consolidated Pedigree of Major Rice Varieties with Cina Cytoplasm Planted in Indonesia since the 1940s

Indonesia also has special responsibilities in regard to the distinctive javanica-rice varieties that are now found almost exclusively on the islands of Bali and Java. Throughout these two islands, however, these varieties have been substantially displaced by improved HYVs. Yet there are still some villages that, for cultural as well as ecological reasons, cultivate javanica-rice on a viable basis. These villages could be considered 'living gene banks' and should be allowed-indeed encouraged-to continue their cultivation. In West Java, there exist groups of villagers known collectively as kesepuhan who continue to cultivate traditional rice varieties (not just javanica-rice) as part of an ancestral cult (Adimihardja, 1983, 1989). The genetic as well as the cultural importance of these practices should be recognized and be given scope to continue.

Indonesia's primary goal remains that of increasing its rice production to meet a growing demand from an increasing (and more affluent) population. This has been made all the more difficult in 1991 by an El Niño drought year that has seriously affected production. As a predominantly Muslim country, peak consumption periods associated with the feasts of Idul Fitri and Idul El Ad shift in accordance with the Islamic calendar. Beginning in the 1990s, these periods of peak consumption will occur before the principal harvest of the year. This is similar to the situation Indonesia faced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a consequence, in 1991, to provide a buffer stock as well as to make up a deficit in production, Indonesia has purchased strategic quantities of rice on the world market.

Despite two years that have shown no substantial growth, the potential for increasing rice production in Indonesia is still considerable. No yield plateau has yet been reached. Increased production in the 1990s is now more likely to occur in steady increments rather than in dramatic jumps. For this reason, it is probably best to cease talk of a Green Revolution. This label may have been appropriate to characterize the early results that followed the introduction of new genetic material, but this revolution has now been thoroughly 'domesticated'.

The stage has thus perhaps been set for the next revolution in rice agriculture which will again involve the introduction of radically new genetic material. Rice scientists at the IRRI now envision the development of a new 'ultra-high yielding variety' of rice. Such a rice strain is still an ideotype-a vision of a breeding target for the future. This rice would be up to 30 per cent more productive than present HYVs, with yields from 13 to 15 tonnes per hectare. Its architecture would be strikingly different with fewer tillers (1-6 tillers compared to present rice plants' 20-25 tillers), but all these tillers would ideally bear panicles. One IRRI breeder's optimistic hope is that such an ultra-high yielding variety could be available for distribution to farmers in 5-8 years (IRRI, 1991).

Were this to occur, this new ultra-high yielding rice would, it is expected, begin a new Green Revolution approximately 30 years after the first. A new cycle would begin, but perhaps this time with a better understanding of the ecological dimensions of rice cultivation. Undoubtedly, the new ultra-high yielding rice will bear some genetic relationship to the HYVs. It is reasonable to expect, however, that the genetic differences between this rice and present rice varieties will be considerable. This new rice will draw on a diverse store of genetic material now preserved in the gene banks at the IRRI and elsewhere. It is therefore likely that the new rice will owe a particular debt to Chang's efforts in preserving such germplasm for future generations.

A final comment is worth making in relation to the Indonesian experience over the past quarter century (1965-90). The simple availability of new technology does not automatically ensure its use, adaptation, and development. Indonesia's success in achieving high production and its gradual adaptation and development of productive rice technology is the result of firm political commitment to a particular development strategy. A reasonable question to ask is whether this same commitment will continue through the 1990s.

Editorial comment

Professor Mubyarto of Gadjah Mada University underscored several of the points raised by the principal speakers, including the successful increase in production, its heavy use of water and chemical inputs and, because of the cost of these inputs, dependence on government support. He also stressed the inefficiency of nitrogen use, and then went on:

It is remarkable that the success of rice farmers, to help 'solve' the rice crisis of the 1960s over the region, has been quickly forgotten by urban rice consumers and most government people outside the rice-production system. The result is lack of support when rice farmers face problems, for example, declining terms of trade. In Java, during 1976 88, the rice terms of trade declined by l] per cent, the lowest being in the major riceproducing region of East Java, where the decline was 22 per cent.

While rice farmers have been 'penalized' by their own success, non-rice farmers, notably the rainfed subsistence farmers, have been the hardest hit. Their real incomes have been left behind and the income gap between the two groups of farmers forever widens.

In response to this and other questions, Chang noted that the very strong preference for rice as a food in South-East Asia itself created problems of resource allocation. The HYVs, in particular, are not well-suited to all environments, and the reasons for reluctance to adopt them, in Kalimantan for example, include acid soils and water, as well as the low price of rice, the cost of chemical inputs, and problems with pests. There are, however, some very good adaptations, and J. J. Fox noted one in a Timor valley using limited resources in a triple-cropping succession involving dry crops, irrigated local rice and high-yielding rice; this is a good example of flexible use of the new technology.

There was concern about the loss of biodiversity with the dominant use of new varieties. Over 6,800 Indonesian rice varieties are now preserved at the IRRI, and there are still many unknown varieties on the islands; however, their number is diminishing. The number that has been lost is unknown. Another problem is the effect of pesticides on fish cultivation in the wet-rice fields, formerly an important source of protein. Even in southern Peninsular Malaysia, where the Green Revolution has had limited impact, these fish are now often inedible because of high pesticide residues. In Java, the problem is made worse because pesticides are also heavily used in the upland vegetable gardens, and they contaminate the water running off into the rice lands.

A final problem was stressed by Chang: that of the heavy dependence of Green Revolution farming on government support, whether in the form of materials or subsidies. He painted a picture of 'experts' and bureaucrats, gingerly making their way along the bunds in patent leather shoes, as an integral element in the new rural scene.

  1. The development of rice cultivation in Malaysia .since the 1970s is a complex subject. Compared to Indonesia. rice cultivation has been de-emphasized while a considerable urbanization of the rural Malay has occurred. An excellent book on this subject is Brookfield. Abdul Samad Hadi and Zaharah Mahmud (1991).
  2. It is essential lo recognize that Indonesia's goal of self-sufficiency in rice was identified by President Suharto himself'. as was the decision to restrict imports once self'-sufliciency had been attained. This decision to produce rather than import rice was a national political decision. Economic calculations were developed within this specified parameter. Thus, the government's pricing policy has always been a critical component of national rice-producfion efforts. From the beginning of' its rice intensification programme. Indonesia adopted a complex set of pricing mechanisms for rice. fertilizers and pesticides, which were regularly adjusted to achieve national production goals. Until the mid-1980s. policy favoured relatively high subsidies for inputs. However. beginning in 1987, a more nuanced policy was adopted with the intention to promote high production while reducing subsidies and curtailing overuse of inputs. For a discussion of' various aspects of these pricing policies with a view to future strategies. see Pearson et al. ( 1991).
  3. For a good account of the Supra Insus programmes and their attendant difficulties. see Husein Sawit and Ibrahim Manwan ( 1991).
  4. Two useful IRRI symposia volumes that mark the stages in addressing the brown planthopper problem and in rethinking pesticide use are: Brown Planthopper: Threat to Rice Production in Asia (1979) and Judicions and Efficient Use of Insecticides on Rice (1984). As the importance of IPM was given increasing emphasis. the IRRI published a useful guide put together by an entire group of researchers (Reissig et al.. 1986) and. Iater. another little book with colour photographs which identified beneficial insects. spiders and diseases that attack rice pests (Shepard, Barrion and Litsinger, 1987)

(introductory text...)

The expansion and intensification of upland agriculture, 1850-1950
Upland agriculture, 1950-1990: Logging, roads, markets and cash
The environmental consequences of upland agricultural expansion: Sustainability and unsustainability
Attempted solutions
What is to be done?



THE problems of upland land degradation in South-East Asia received wide publicity during the 1980s. Scientists and environmental lobby groups, sensitized to world-wide soil erosion, and later to the contributions of tropical land-use change to global climatic warming, have decried the rapid rates of land clearance and deforestation in a number of South-East Asian countries. Some present a picture of looming environmental disaster (for example, Donner, 1987; Eckholm, 1976). While these concerns must be taken seriously, the sometimes highly emotional arguments from the developed world have tended to oversimplify the causes, and also the long-term consequences, of land degradation and deforestation in the Tropics.

Poor cultivation practices almost always result in land degradation and consequent losses of productivity, and this is true in uplands and lowlands alike. In some areas, forest clearance followed by cultivation has resulted in severe environmental damage, but in others forest clearance occurred hundreds of years ago and, at least until recently, the land has been cultivated without serious damage. Moreover, some tracts severely degraded in the past have been rehabilitated with or without state or institutional help. The South-East Asian region provides a rich variety of examples where the causes and consequences of land degradation can be examined. They enable some general statements to be made, and some possible solutions to the problems to be examined.

Explanations and solutions need to be sought in context. Simply to review the situation in each country would be to miss the essential point about the primary cause of events in the uplands of the region. As shall be seen, degradation is widespread, and so too is intensification. In this latter respect, experiences in South-East Asia are common to most agricultural systems throughout the developing world. There is, as Ruthenberg (1980: 35766) shows, a very general tendency to move away from more permanent systems, from less intensive to more intensive practices, towards higher-yielding crops and towards greater use of 'support energy'. The reasons for intensification therefore underlie any discussion of land-use change. It is simplistic to attribute all intensification to population pressure, following Boserup (1965). Other explanations of a perceived need to increase production also have to be taken into account; humans do not live by subsistence alone. This has practical as well as theoretical importance, for even if the population problem is successfully solved, a sustainable future will not have been created if some other force is also driving agriculture to intensify.

Although it is necessary to discuss wider trends in regional agriculture, including those in the lowlands, this chapter concentrates on the problems of the uplands. Their definition as a class of land is, however, difficult. In South-East Asia, the term is often used rather loosely to refer to unirrigated land but, if water is available, it is possible to irrigate almost any land, even steeply sloping land, if someone is willing to pay the costs. Nor is altitude a useful criterion; if 'uplands' imply steeplands, or hill and mountain country, they may begin at sea level. Irrigable land of low relief may be found at over 2 000 metres above sea level. Similarly, slope is not a helpful classifier; some very steep land is found at low altitude, and some almost level land is found in the highest areas occupied by people, now or in the past.

Using Spencer's (1949: 28) definition, 'uplands' could be defined as containing a core of 'hilly to mountainous landscapes of steeply inclined surfaces and the table lands and plateaus Iying at higher elevations'. It might be added that the discussion concerns land which is not flood-irrigated, not the immediate coastal fringe, estuarine or alluvial plains and swampland, nor is it seasonally flooded. Broadly, this definition by exclusion is followed in this chapter. Uplanders and lowlanders distinguish themselves as different groups of people in several of the South-East Asian countries, the one class of persons having a generic name for the other. It would be desirable to take account of this perceived basis of classification also, but in practical terms it is not feasible.

The expansion and intensification of upland agriculture, 1850-1950

The Antecedents of Modern Upland Settlement

Forest clearing for agriculture in the South-East Asian uplands began over 5,000 years ago. Pollen preserved in swamps in the high-elevation interior of Papua New Guinea provides evidence that substantial forest disturbance first occurred there between 5,000 and 4,000 years BP (Before Present) and was well established by 2,300 BP (Walker and Flenley, 1979). In Central Taiwan and Sumatra, the earliest forest disturbance is probably of a similar age (Hutterer, 1983a). While there is no direct archaeological or palynological evidence that the disturbance was for the purpose of agriculture, there are few other causes which can be sensibly ascribed. Agriculture is inferred from 5,000 years BP on Taiwan and from 3,000 years BP in Sulawesi. In South China and northern Thailand, the beginning of rice cultivation is placed at 3,000 years BP, and irrigated rice, from 1,000 years BP (Bellwood, 1978: 161).

It would probably be a mistake to assume that this very early agriculture was restricted only to a form of shifting cultivation on upland sites. There is evidence from a well-researched site in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea, at an altitude of 1 500 1 600 metres, that swamp drainage was being employed prior to 5,000 years BP, probably in conjunction with shifting cultivation on slopes around the swamp (Golson, 1981). From this same site comes indications of soil washing off the slopes around the swamp and sealing in some features of the drainage systems.

Elsewhere in the Papua New Guinea highlands, studies of the sediments in a number of small lakes provide evidence of sharply increased deposition from 300 years BP, when it is assumed that an expansion of agriculture occurred within the lake catchments. From its earliest beginnings, upland agriculture was the cause of accelerated soil erosion, yet much of the land around these sites is still occupied, and some of it intensively cultivated, today.

A Period of Revolutionary Change

Despite these early agricultural beginnings, the period of 'revolutionary' change in SouthEast Asian agriculture occurred between 1850 and 1950, sometimes, but not everywhere, preceded by a century or half-century of much lesser change. This applies to most of the uplands as well as the lowlands. In the space of about 100 years, millions of hectares of formerly seasonally inundated ground in the lowlands were converted into wet-rice fields; the forest land which surrounded them was developed into commercial plantations and permanent mixed-crop, dry-field cultivations by smallholders. Large areas of hill forest were converted into swiddens for upland rice (Dobby, 1955). The organized states of precolonial South-East Asia were based on irrigated rice, but the expansion of wet-rice areas as a result of massive public works, drainage and canal building under colonial administrations during the 100 years from 1850 was on a vastly larger scale. This transformation has been described as the 'first Green Revolution, (Barker and Herdt, 1979: 8).

Uhlig (1984) provides data which testify to this amazing transformation of the SouthEast Asian landscape. In Burma's Pegu province, wet-rice areas increased from 228 000 hectares in 1855 to 1.25 million hectares in 1880 and the national total from 1.6 million in 1860 to 5 million hectares in 1931. Wet-rice areas in Thailand grew from 1.5 million hectares in 1907 to 6.9 million hectares in 1927 and 8.6 million hectares in 1979. In the Philippines, the big expansion began only after the American colonization. There, wetrice cultivation increased from about 1.4 million hectares in 1931 to 2.6 million hectares in 1968. The massive changes brought about by the drainage and irrigation works by the Dutch in Indonesia are well-known (Boeke, 1953). However, Palte (1989: 39-40) provides graphic description of the earlier expansion of irrigated rice fields (sawah) on the Panarukan plain in Java between 1805 and 1845.

The relationship between population and food supply is a complex one and this is not the place to argue the various cases for cause and effect. Nevertheless, during 1850 1950, South-East Asian populations clearly increased beyond the capacity of the land then under cultivation to satisfy the demand for food production. The response of populations all over the region was to move on to previously unworked or little-worked ground. In Java, the majority of upland areas were not brought into production 'until the possibilities for irrigation were exhausted, (Palte, 1989: 40). The pattern of occupation was influenced by social and political factors, but was primarily a consequence of growing population pressure on the available land and water resources in the lowlands. Penetration into previously uncultivated uplands began in the 1820s, largely around the Yogyakarta plain where heavy taxes and labour duties were imposed, and a war disrupted farming on the plain.

The most important expansion into the uplands in Java took place between 1860 and 1925, when the forced cultivation system gave way to taxation, and roads, railways and tramways opened up new regions. Large numbers of people took the opportunity to escape onerous taxes and corvée labour by illegally occupying and cutting upland forests for agriculture. The colonial government contributed by clearing large areas of forest for coffee plantations, and then ceding unused portions to settlers.

The appearance of coffee rust, which devastated much of Indonesia's coffee estates, also led to the abandonment of upland areas planted with coffee and to their occupation by subsistence farmers. Concerns over watershed protection, and widespread destruction of forest, resulted in severe government discouragement of upland occupation, but a third phase of expansion occurred from 1942 to 1950 when control over forest land was disrupted by the Japanese occupation and the national struggle for independence (Nibbering, 1991b: 25; Palte, 1989: 48-9).

A different picture can be assembled from Thailand, although the outcome is broadly similar. Between 1855 and 1930, Thai rice exports increased 25 times while, over the same period, the Thai population, dependent on rice as a staple, grew to 12 million. Rice yields per unit area declined, however, and the inevitable outcome was a rapid increase in the cultivated area. More than half of this occurred on the Central Plain, where canal construction was funded from stat! revenues (Johnson, 1975, quoted in Hirsch, 1990). From 1912 to World War 11, the rice trade suffered a number of reversals, between which growth was slow. Hirsch (1990) and Uhlig (1984) imply that it was the failure of the rice-export trade to grow, and a combination of pricing policies, marketing structures and ecological imperatives, which led to a sudden expansion in upland agriculture and an increase in the importance of upland crops relative to rice. Production increased, not as a result of successful intensification or crop diversification in the rice areas, but because land was available in the uplands and markets were available for the crops which could be grown there-maize, cassava and sugar in particular (Uhlig, 1984: 125).

Expansion before Markets

Elsewhere in the region, expansion of upland agriculture occurred during this period (1850-1950) in the absence of markets or the state. In the Papua New Guinea highlands, growth began more than a century before 1850. There is abundant evidence that existing agricultural systems have intensified and expanded during the last 300-400 years (see, for example, Strathern, 1982). The widespread adoption of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), a previously unknown or little-used crop, allowed agriculture to be extended to an altitude of 2800 metres, well above the economic altitudinal range of likely previous staples such as taro (Colocasia esculenta). In addition, land which could no longer support taro because of declining soil fertility was brought back into cultivation under sweet potato (Clarke, 1977). It has been argued that the driving force behind these changes was increasing population numbers, increasing social and political differentiation, and the need to produce more pigs, which are used as a means of indemnification in social relations and conflicts between groups (Allen and Crittenden, 1987; Modjeska, 1982). Similar arguments have been advanced to explain the very rapid expansion of precolonial upland agriculture in Hawaii (Kirch, 1984).

The Philippines present yet another story. Many upland parts of the country were occupied by tribal groups prior to Spanish colonization in the 1500s. The Digos-Padada valley in Davao province, Mindanao, for example, was occupied by four major tribal groups, with smaller groups of Muslims on the coast (Simkins and Wernstedt, 1971). When one of the tribal groups came into conflict with the Spanish government in the nineteenth century and was dispersed, Christians from elsewhere in the Philippines began to occupy the abandoned land. Fields cleared in lower hill-slope forest were quickly converted to grass, but more forest was cleared inland and population densities remained low. Migration into the area continued, however, and between 1903 and 1918 the population increased by 65 per cent, then doubled between 1918 and 1939. Most settlers were concentrated in the lower valley, leaving the interior largely in the hands of tribal groups. After World War 11, however, the settlement frontier moved inland rapidly and by 1965 there was almost no land in the valley that was unoccupied or uncultivated.

Although upland agriculture has expanded all over the South-East Asian region, and increasing population has everywhere been associated with this expansion, it cannot, in many cases, be said to be the only cause. The reasons are varied and complex and it is not possible to make many general statements about the process. In Thailand, and perhaps in Papua New Guinea, intensification and expansion occurred before critical population pressures arose, and then the need to increase production for social and political reasons was as important as population growth. Even the Indonesian case does not stand on the basis of population pressure alone. Government policies, land taxes, compulsory labour, war and an increased access to upland areas, all contributed to the expansion of upland agriculture in Java. Elsewhere, as in the Philippines, migrant populations at relatively low densities have caused considerable land degradation, but they have moved inland into uncultivated forest, rather than intensify production on existing fields. Population increases are relevant in all cases, but sometimes as a cause, and sometimes as an effect, of agricultural expansion and intensification.

Upland agriculture, 1950-1990: Logging, roads, markets and cash

New Elements in the Pattern of Change

The discussion now turns more specifically to developments over the last 40 years. Upland agricultural systems in the region have continued to be challenged by rapidly growing populations (see Concepcion, Chapter 2). In addition, forests which were not subject to clearing by earlier agricultural expansion are now being logged at a high rate, and logging has lately extended into quite hilly regions. Roads for loggers also provide access for farmers and settlers, both to the logged-over land itself and to distant markets. Demands for cash (to pay for consumer goods, children's education) and for agricultural inputs which have become a necessity in the face of continuing declines in yields, combined with better access to markets, have led to a rapid increase in the cultivation of high-value crops for sale. These crops, such as vegetables, frequently extract a greater cost in terms of erosion and loss of soil nutrients than the 'traditional' upland crops of rice, maize, cassava and other grains and tubers or, in Thailand, opium.

In the lowlands, wet-rice land is reaching its ultimate expansion through the conversion of mangrove swamps to rice land, and the use of tidal irrigation in coastal estuaries. Chang (Chapter 9) makes the point that, following the Green Revolution, the further expansion in area and in yields of irrigated rice is now strictly limited, and that existing lowland systems are under increasing stress from the high costs of maintenance and inputs. Elsewhere, Chang (1987) argues the case for a direct link between increases in rice production in South-East Asia and increases in her population. He goes on to observe that while the growth in production which followed the adoption of the Green Revolution high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of rice has reached a plateau, the populations of Asian countries continue to grow. The clear implication is that, if further production increases from wet-rice areas are limited, the burden of food supply for this rapidly increasing population will fall on upland cultivation systems.

In a study on Indonesia, J. J. Fox (1991: 81-3) comes to similar conclusions about rice production. Although Indonesian rice production (unhusked dry-rice paddy) increased from 15 to 45 million tonnes between 1968 and 1988, demand is estimated to go on increasing at between 2.7 and 3.0 per cent per year, which will require a 34-39 per cent increase in rice production by the year 2000; this is the same increase as occurred between 1968 and 1988. Fox is cautiously optimistic that these challenges can be met, but notes in passing that in Java, some of the better, irrigated land, where the production increases could be expected to occur, is being taken out of rice production in favour of higher-earning crops.

The Link with Timber Production

During 1850 1950, governments in the region attempted to create and protect forest reserves, with varying degrees of determination and success. Over the 1970s and 1980s, however, the general release of control from government to private operators, the logging of forests with modern equipment, such as bulldozers, tractors, timber jinkers and chain saws, and the penetration of roads into huge tracts of previously 'unroaded' land have brought about a new era of forest clearing and agricultural expansion. The deforestation issue has been raised in several previous chapters, particularly by Brookfield (Chapter 1) and Potter (Chapter 5), and the important aspect of fire is discussed by Wirawan (Chapter 11). The link with land degradation has been touched on, but needs to be examined more specifically and considered as a separate issue.

Soil erosion and the degradation of land need not be inevitable outcomes of forest clearing, especially where rapid woody successions colonize areas cleared of forest. In Kalimantan in the late 1980s, for example, the rates of deforestation caused by logging followed by clearing for agriculture and settlement were estimated to be between 600 000 and 1.2 million hectares per year (Potter, 1991). The opened, 'roaded', logged-over and damaged forest is very much easier to enter and clear than closed, undisturbed rain forest. Movement into the areas of large numbers of new settlers, both governmentsponsored and spontaneous migrants, has impacted heavily on the logged-over land.

A similar pattern is found in the Uthai Thani district of Thailand where by 1985 forested land was less than 41 per cent of the total land area and deforestation was continuing. Land settlement by outsiders was 'facilitated in no small part by the clearance of large areas of forest under concession to the state-run Thai Plywood Company.... Construction of roads has also been crucial' (Hirsch, 1990: 56). In northern Thailand, strategic roads built to assist defence against insurgents first brought loggers, and then cultivators, into large areas that, in consequence, rapidly lost their forest cover.

The average rate of deforestation over 1976-80 for the whole of Indonesia was estimated at 550 000 hectares per year, compared to 325 000 hectares in Thailand, 230 000 hectares in Malaysia, 120 000 hectares in Laos and 100 000 hectares in the Philippines (Ooi, 1987: 7). The main causes are stated to be shifting cultivation, unorganized and spontaneous encroachment on forest land, squatting, migration of landless and displaced lowlanders into upland forested areas, refugee encroachments and government-sponsored land settlement, transmigration in Indonesia and state-sponsored agricultural development schemes in Malaysia in particular.

Linkage with External Areas

Improvements in communications, particularly roads, has also been an important influence in non-logging areas. The Gunung Kidul district south of Yogyakarta, in Java, was already largely deforested by 1904 when remaining teak forests were taken over and managed by the colonial forest service. This limestone area was connected to the outside world in the 1930s by a dry-weather bullock track and, although the roads were later improved, in 1949 it was still possible for Indonesian nationalist forces to take shelter in the area after they had been driven from Yogyakarta by the Dutch. By 1989, an asphalt road ran through the whole area and many hamlets were connected to this road by allweather, gravel roads. Minibuses travelled frequently along the main road, and villageowned vehicles were reasonably common. Villagers could travel to Yogyakarta and back in a day and to the district centre and market place in less than an hour (Nibbering, 1991b: 71-2). They now have much-improved access to off-farm employment, the city and regional markets, cheaper farm inputs, information and primary and secondary education for their children.

The most dramatic change in conditions of access has been in the populous central highlands of Papua New Guinea, which until the 1950s had no road to the coast. Now a network of several thousand kilometres of roads links all densely populated areas to the coast at Lae and Madang, bearing a heavy traffic of buses, minibuses and trucks. In more accessible areas, there have been major changes in land use, incorporating a range of cash crops. Coffee from this region, only a pioneer crop in the 1950s, is now a leading export. With the development of both urban and rural markets, trade in foodstuffs has become important. There is extensive movement of people, leading to an actual reduction in the population of some marginal areas, despite continued high rates of natural increase. The conditions of production and consumption, even in areas distant from the roads, have been transformed.

Consequences of Changes in Crops

A major trend, which distinguishes the 1970s and 1980s from the previous 150 years, is the partial switch from subsistence staples to high-value cash crops, particularly vegetables. As shall be described below, declining soil fertility and subsequent declining yields have eventually forced farmers to purchase off-farm fertility-maintenance inputs-inorganic fertilizers in particular-to maintain yields. This alone requires farmers to have access to cash. With better access to markets, burgeoning demand for vegetables in towns and cities, a greater awareness among upland parents of the value of education for their children, and an increased desire for manufactured consumer goods, the switch to high-value crops and the partial substitution of subsistence staples for purchased foods is an economically rational and socially desirable action for farmers. However, it is not always ecologically sensible.

First, despite high and increasing application rates of inorganic fertilizers, declining soil fertility remains a feature of many areas of vegetable growing; it is reported, for example, in West Java and the Kundasang area of Sabah (Imam Ali, personal communication; Hardjono, 1991). In addition, many farmers find that, because of poor management or the quality of their land, they cannot afford the costs of the inputs and, as a consequence, they enter a downward spiral of decreasing yields and an increasing inability to purchase the required fertilizers to improve yields.

Secondly, soil erosion is a serious problem in many vegetable-growing areas. Annual cropping increases the exposure of soils to rainfall, and farmers are reluctant to terrace because of the costs and the technical difficulty. At Kundasang, migrant ethnic Chinese farmers view vegetable growing as a means of raising capital for onward investment in non-farming activities, and they appear to have few concerns for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise. Topsoil is sometimes deliberately scraped off plots to reduce weed infestation, and crops are maintained in the subsoil by inorganic fertilizers.

The unsafe use of pesticides (many of which are banned elsewhere in the world), often used at rates well above those recommended, is common. Indigenous Kadazan landowners in the hills surrounding Kundasang are adopting some of these practices, in particular the use of spray irrigation and fertilizers and pesticides. However, most cannot achieve the production levels of the immigrants, nor are they as successful at judging the market and producing the highest-value crops (Imam Ali, personal communication). They are thereby putting the land, in which they have a long-term interest, at risk.

Where farmers cannot afford the costs of off-farm inputs, they may eventually be forced out of farming altogether by indebtedness. Poorer farmers in the Uthai Thani district in Thailand, confronted with declining yields, increasing soil compaction, weeds and pests, seek labouring opportunities from wealthier farmers in order to buy fertilizers, pesticides and tractor time. Some farmers are forced to lease their land to wealthier villagers and seek off-farm employment in towns, in order to pay off debts, and because they lack the capital to farm the land themselves (Hirsch, 1990: 74).

The outcome of increased commercialization and monetization of upland farming economies has not everywhere been negative. In his detailed study of agricultural change and environmental degradation in the Gunung Kidul district in Java, Nibbering (1991b) found that increasing use of off-farm inputs and improved access to markets, greater offfarm wage-earning opportunities, and greater political security have brought about improved social, economic and environmental conditions in this district. He argues that, during the 1950s and 1960s as pressure on land increased, farmers' returns to labour declined steadily because fields could not be cultivated further without the costly construction of terraces, and without working increasingly marginal land which had to be brought into production at high cost. In the 1970s, when farmers gained access to fertilizers and pesticides and changed cropping techniques, this situation changed. As returns to labour increased, farmers began to invest more in ecologically sound practices, particularly in tree planting, which supplements farm incomes through the sale of timber, but which also greatly improves the local agricultural environment and increases the supply of fuelwood.

The environmental consequences of upland agricultural expansion: Sustainability and unsustainability

The evidence on sustainability of these developing upland agricultural systems is contradictory. In some areas, improved access and incorporation into the market economy have apparently brought about the rehabilitation of previously degraded areas, while in other locations, the 'mining' of forest and soil resources has continued unabated. Most researchers in upland ecology concentrate on soil erosion in already cleared land as an even more serious ecological threat than deforestation. Shifting cultivation has long been viewed, particularly from within the region, as the major problem. But it must be recognized that in many of the areas discussed-cleared and settled by or before the 1930s and 1940s-shifting cultivation has long since given way to more permanent agriculture. It is continuing pressure on this land which is giving rise to concern.

The great expansion of agriculture from the lowlands into the uplands, which occurred throughout South-East Asia from the 1800s onwards, resulted in widespread degradation of the land. Across the whole region, the outcomes were similar. The conversion of forest to grassland, soil erosion and declining soil fertility led to the move away from shifting cultivation in the direction of permanent cultivation. The ability of watersheds to retain water from rainfall has declined, and rapid runoff has resulted in severe flooding damaging lowland wet-rice systems.

In almost every case where the sequence is known, or can be reconstructed, the earliest upland farmers practiced forms of shifting cultivation in which soil fertility was maintained by a natural regrowth fallow, and soil erosion was minimized because most of the land was protected by a tree and scrub cover. As more migrants arrived, and populations continued to expand, all cultivable and accessible land was occupied, fallow lengths decreased, and large, previously forested areas were converted into scrub and grassland. This situation had been reached in Java by 1920 (Booth, 1988: 100). Cropping of the same tract of land was more frequent, and complete tillage became common, together with the application of animal manure to maintain soil fertility (Palte, 1989). In the Philippines, even in areas where shifting cultivation had been practiced for hundreds of years, fallow lengths declined and there was a 'trend towards a cultivation cycle based on the annual cropping calendar of the dominant subsistence crop' (Cruz, 1986b).

In a number of areas in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, permanent sweet potato cropping systems based on complete tillage and composting have been developed since the conversion of forest to grassland. At their most elaborate, these systems involve throwing the soil into large mounds within which plant matter imported from nearby fallow, as well as from the garden site, is composted. Under this system, and others involving complete tillage of the surface, some significant areas are now cultivated permanently, with only short fallow gaps of, at most, a few months between each crop.

These technologies were developed on flat-to-rolling land and on alluvial plains, where they appear sustainable; in the composted-mound system, a high rate of soil formation more than offsets any loss from erosion. However, these intensive systems have been extended on to the hill slopes and valley sides as populations have increased. Here, they give rise to rapid loss of topsoil and accompanying rapid declines in soil fertility. On volcanic-ash soils on steep slopes in the Tari basin, sweet potato yields fell from 8 to 2 tonnes per hectare in less than 40 years, whereas on alluvial plains and recent colluvial soils, yields can be maintained at 12 tonnes per hectare for over 50 years (Wood, 1984). The outcome is the abandonment of fields on the slopes, the establishment of a tall grass disclimax maintained by irregular burning, and the continued clearing of forests higher on the valley sides.

Consequences can be measured in terms of human welfare. Everyone participates in a social system in which status and security depend on inflationary ceremonial exchanges (Allen and Crittenden, 1987). In order to keep up with their competitive neighbours on the better land, men on less capable soil must push their land or themselves harder-their women in particular. The effect is apparent in the author's analysis of the birth weights of more than 2,900 children born in the Tari basin. There is a statistically significant 150-gram difference between the weight of children born in the best area and those born on the poorer land.

It is difficult to quantify the meaning of these changes in terms of soil erosion, or soilfertility decline, across the whole of South-East Asia. It must be assumed that, on land which was not adequately terraced, severe soil erosion occurred when permanent cultivation systems first became established, in the absence of terracing or other soilfertility maintenance techniques. But, as Nibbering (1991b) explains for Indonesia, the conditions of soil type, slope, rainfall intensity, vegetation cover, and cropping and cultivation practices vary so much from place to place that soil losses may differ by orders of magnitude between areas in relatively close proximity. He concludes, very sensibly, that it is probably an unrewarding task to seek to establish erosion rates, and even if it were possible to do so within acceptable levels of confidence, little would have been achieved towards solving the problem of the erosion itself.

Attempted solutions

Migration and Resettlement

Throughout the region, numerous attempts have been made to address the problems created by the expansion of upland agriculture in the 1800s and its modern manifestations. Perhaps the best known attempt to reduce the pressure on land in Java-the Indonesian transmigration project which drew many of its recruits from upland areas-is now widely seen as an environmental threat in itself, and as a major contributor to the deforestation taking place in the outer islands. Transmigration settlers are poorly cared for, relative to, for example, Malaysian FELDA settlers; in Kalimantan, they have been required to be largely self-sufficient in food, a factor which has led them into annual cropping on land which has been placed in a capability class for tree crops only.

A good deal of resettlement from upland areas has been of a more spontaneous kind, and it has generally been to lowland areas, especially to the towns and cities. Although a proportion of those who have moved from the highlands of Papua New Guinea now live in planned land-development areas where they cultivate tree crops, a larger number has settled in and around the urban areas. The same has happened in the Philippines and in Java. Within the uplands, there is migration from more remote areas to regions where cash cropping is more rewarding, and where off-farm employment is readily available. There is little data on the basis of which these movements might be quantified, but there can be no doubt concerning their substantial volume.

Social Forestry

Programmes which directly address the problems of deforestation, and the rehabilitation of degraded land, are the social-forestry schemes which are found in a number of SouthEast Asian countries. In the Philippines, social-forestry projects have been concerned with environmental issues, but they are also explicitly designed to improve living conditions, provide employment, augment incomes and make rural communities more self-reliant (Aguilar, 1986). In contrast to previous attempts to control upland forest clearing, which relied unsuccessfully on exclusion of people from the forests, coercion and punishment, the newer projects allow people to remain in the areas under a form of 'managed occupancy'.

Although it is difficult to generalize about the success of these projects because the outcomes have been so variable, it is apparent that, after enthusiastic beginnings, reforestation and terracing targets have rarely been met. The major difficulties facing such projects appear to be the quality of government extension agents, their rapid turnover and a continuing tendency for them to pressure farmers into participation. In one scheme in the Philippines, increasing coercion resulted in extensive burning after a number of years of declining frequency of forest fires (Aguilar, 1986).

Reforestation, or regreening, has a long history in Indonesia. The colonial government recommended planting leucaena on deforested hillsides as a precursor to terracing (Nibbering, 1991b: 169). The independent Indonesian government's first National Regreening Week was held in 1959. Soemarwoto (1991) observes that the outcome of regreening programmes has been variable, but the rate of deforestation is clearly still exceeding the rate of regreening. He also observes that tree planting alone does not necessarily reduce erosion and may even interfere with soil-water conditions.

What is to be done?

This chapter has attempted the impossible: to review a complex topic across a highly varied region without becoming overly superficial. Nevertheless, it is clear that a major transformation of upland environments has occurred in South-East Asia since around 1850 and that it continues in the early 1990s at a rapid and unsustainable pace. The transformation has arisen in important measure from large population increases, which have been associated with increased food production from lowland wet-rice systems, and improved health and living conditions. lt has further involved major movements of people from the lowlands into the uplands, the clearing of forests from a vast area of land and the intensification of agricultural systems. Later, improvement in transport and communication networks. access to markets and the commercialization of agriculture, including the increased use of purchased fertilizers and pesticides, have generated new conditions that impact upon different areas in different ways.

A December 1990 seminar on technologies for sustainable agriculture in upland SouthEast Asia included contributions on economics, land tenure, farming systems, agronomy and soil management, but no clearly discernible overall solution was offered (Blair and Lefroy, 1991). Following a detailed study of deforestation in the Philippines, Kummer (1990b) concludes that the history of forest use in individual countries is important, and population increase is not a critical explanation of recent deforestation, but elite control over forest land and corruption is extremely important, at least in the Philippines. Whatever the causes, the solutions to deforestation are not amenable to technical solutions. As Kummer argues, the fundamental issue is who has the right to use the forest resource.

Soemarwoto (1991), who has long pondered these problems, has put forward a proposition to reverse some of these consequences. In general terms, he argues that past solutions, which have had at their core land rehabilitation and reforestation, have demonstrably failed. Therefore, solutions are required which give priority to the needs of people and leave the environment to rehabilitate itself, once the people can be persuaded to leave it alone for a while. Soemarwoto argues that, in order to do this, the lives of the rural poor must be improved. Their agricultural systems will have to be intensified even further in order to reduce the amount of land necessary for support. Off-farm employment will have to be increased, training for off-famm work improved, a reduction in the rate of population increased through family planning, and improved and fairer marketing schemes instituted. Of the cases reviewed in this chapter, Nibbering's offers the greatest support to Soemarwoto's proposition. The people of the Gunung Kidul district began their own land rehabilitation when their social, economic and political conditions improved.

What remains to be done therefore is to convince political leaders, bureaucrats and South-East Asia's burgeoning middle classes that their futures are inextricably linked to the lives of rural people and to the upland environments in which these people live.

Pitfalls of the intensification debate


THE argument that traditional agricultural systems, such as shifting cultivation, are energy efficient needs to be handled with caution. The available data are highly variable, depending on attributes. In New Guinea, for example, Rappaport (1971) reported an energy output/input ratio for Tsembaga slash-and-bum agriculture of about 16: 1, and the highest value under the most favourable conditions of 20: 1. However, recalculation of the same data, with inclusion of the energy used in burning the field, drops the ratio to 0.11: 1, thus indicating that shifting agriculture is just as dependent on an energy subsidy to achieve high production with low human labour input as is modem mechanized agriculture (Rambo, 1981).

Moreover, high biodiversity (characteristic of shifting agriculture) is not necessarily less vulnerable to changes in physical conditions (May, 1974). Time lags in a system with patchy distribution of pests can contribute to the destabilization of the ecosystem (Conway, 1983).

The object of intensification is to increase the productivity of an agricultural system. This may take several forms, including application of herbicides and pesticides, addition of fertilizers, introduction of new varieties, mechanical tillage, continuous cropping or an alternation of crops (Conway, 1983; Trenbath, Conway and Craig, 1990). However, the consequences of intensification may also take different forms. The intensified system may not behave as anticipated. Pesticide resistance is an example. Other internal and external elements and processes may also be affected in undesirable ways. Intensification should be considered in terms of its effects on system properties. These include productivity, sustainability. measures of social equity, autonomy and solidarity (see, for example, Conway, 1986; Conway and Barbier, 1990; Marten and Rambo, 1988). The trade-off between effects on these properties may offer guidelines on management of intensified systems, of assistance in the problems now faced by man.

Immediate needs in upland Java

Editorial comment


ALLEN'S Chapter 10 is closer to the real problems of upland farmers in South-East Asia than was the somewhat detached overview of intensification he presented in Yogyakarta. He is certainly right when he states that new approaches and attitudes are needed, but the problem lies in waiting for these to be developed. As Indonesians say, nasi sudah jadi bubur (the rice is already overcooked). A great deal of environmental damage has already been done. The question concerns steps that can be taken now. This comment relates specifically to Java, and especially to West Java, where the author has undertaken a study of upland farming problems (Hardjono, 1991).

Java in the early 1990s has more than 100 million people. At the same time, it also has some very serious environmental problems, most of which are related to land use. With steady population growth, wet-rice cultivation has been unable to support the increase in numbers, despite ever-greater intensification. The result has been the extensification of agriculture into upland areas. It is here, in the uplands, that the question of sustainability is perhaps at its most pressing.

Writing of Papua New Guinea, Allen mentions problems created by socially determined production surpluses. Many of Java's upland farmers have incomes that place them not very tar beyond the fulfilment of physiologically minimum requirements. In endeavouring to meet these needs, they have unfortunately resorted to land-management practices that, on the whole, have negative environmental consequences. Most farmers in upland Java cultivate dry arable crops, though in some areas agriculture takes the form of relatively intensive vegetable growing which, at least in the short run, is more profitable. Eventually, however, both forms of upland agriculture lead to land degradation when they are practiced on steep slopes. This is reflected in declining soil fertility and in erosion, which has implications for those who live in the lowlands.

Farmers in Java are no longer able to move to new areas, yet their soil-management techniques are inadequate to ensure sustainable use of the land. A shortage of land prevents them from practicing fallowing, and the majority cannot afford to buy inputs to maintain productivity as well as their own basic income levels. This circle of poverty is very difficult to break. yet it must be done in the interests of the environment.

Population reduction in the uplands is one obvious course. Those who are cautiously optimistic about future trends in the Indonesian economy see the movement of labour out of low-income occupations in the uplands into nonagricultural employment as the answer to pressure on land resources. Unfortunately, given present trends in non-agricultural labour absorption, it will be many years before this transfer takes place on a sufficient scale to have meaningful effect on upland populations. There is very little opportunity for non-farm work in the uplands themselves, while industrial expansion in and around major urban centres tends increasingly to be capital-intensive, rather than labour-intensive, in nature.

Similarly, government-sponsored transmigration from Java, while it has provided land for large numbers of upland farm families in the 1970s and 1980s, cannot be expected to continue as a means of population reduction. The many reasons include environmental deterioration in the dry-farming regions outside Java. Obviously, only family planning can reduce population pressure in the uplands as in other areas. Its importance cannot be sufficiently stressed, but it will be many decades before the effects can be felt. In the meantime, the starting point towards more sustainable upland agriculture must lie in government attitudes and policies.

The word 'programmes' has been deliberately avoided because there have been many, and there is little to show for them. Moreover, the government has attempted to find one system or model that can be applied everywhere, not only in upland Java but in dryfarming regions throughout Indonesia. The Bimas programme, developed as the vehicle for Indonesia's rice intensification in the 1970s, was essentially a one-package programme for all growers of irrigated rice. Although there are many wet-rice ecosystems, basically one approach was offered to all. In the uplands, the differences from region to region are far greater. Yet dry-crop programmes, such as that for maize improvement, and later the attempts to develop soya bean cultivation, have tended to ignore biophysical variations. They have adopted an approach under which the same extension services and inputs are offered to all participants. Furthermore, they have usually been stimulated by market considerations, rather than by the suitability of the land to the crops involved. Such an approach has achieved, predictably, only limited success.

Programmes involving reforestation and regreening have likewise tended to be unsuccessful; they have not taken into account the immediate needs of individual farmers. With access to only a smallholding, the farmer's main concern is with food production for his own household. Attempts to develop cash crops, such as tea, have run into the same constraint. Given the limited land available per household, the returns are too low to persuade the farmer to give up food-crop production.

Official attitudes therefore need to be completely readjusted. This readjustment would involve an end to present priorities in favour of irrigated rice farming rather than upland cultivation. Application of single solutions intended to deal with low incomes and environmental problems everywhere at the same time should cease. Solutions that are location-specific in their approach must be sought. The Indonesian government has had the political will to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. Given the same political commitment, there could be similar achievement in regard to upland agriculture, where environmental damage makes the need even more urgent.

Editorial comment

Rerkasem's comment and, to some extent, the one by Hardjono relate to Allen's presentation in Yogyakarta, which he did not intend for this book. In it, Allen began with the observation that upland farmers, like lowland farmers, have usually intensified their cultivation through time, and he explained this as a consequence of 'increased population, competitive behaviour, fear and loathing of "other", and a desire for status', to which desire for material goods is now added. Following and elaborating a line of analysis developed by Odum ( 1975), Allen argued that this led not only to the degradation that is widely observed and reported but also to a decline in the energy efficiency of farming. This latter assertion led to a productive exchange of views, part of which is reported above.

The discussion focused on aspects of the energy-subsidy question in relation to intensification. Rerkasem's argument was supported by Soemarwoto, who added that whether or not it is appropriate to take account of the energy used in burning the forest in shifting cultivation, it is surely appropriate to take account of the solar energy consumed in producing the fallow. If this energy is included, then shifting cultivation uses a multiple of the solar energy used in continuous cultivation, dependent on the number of months and years of fallow. This has practical as well as merely theoretical significance, since a large part of the defence of shifting cultivation as a system rests on its allegedly high ratio of energy output to energy input, taking account only of labour and imported energy on the input side. If imported energy from fossil fuels (which were produced by solar energy) is included, then current solar energy inputs should also be taken into our calculations.

James Fox then pointed out that if imported energy is fully accounted for in evaluating the Green Revolution, then its successes are not so momentous. having coincided with, and relied on, a massive petroleum boom in Indonesia. Nitrogen is the fuel of the Green Revolution. and some of this energy also goes to the uplands. Soegiarto supported this view, and he questioned the sustainability of present forms of intensive agriculture. He added that much land is being taken out of agricultural use, and that there is need for a better allocation of land, both upland and lowland, to optimal uses. Chang then asked how man can manage in the future. Neither modern European nor Asian agriculture is sustainable when all the side-effects of chemicalization, including increased presence of nitrates in drinking water, are taken into account.

(introductory text...)

Losses and impairments due to fire
Factors promoting the spread of fire
Reducing the incidence of large-scale fire



FIRE has been a very important tool for mankind since time immemorial. Although some anthropologists believe that the use of fire began with Homo erectus more than a million years ago, solid evidence for the controlled use of fire by hominids can only be traced as far back as the ancestors of the Neanderthals, the early form of Homo sapiens, who lived in Europe about 200,000 years ago (Benditt, 1989).

Aside from its domestic use, fire has also become an integral, natural part of many ecosystems (Bormann and Likens, 1979; Mueller-Dombois, 1981; Newsome, 1985; Spurr and Barnes, 1980). While natural and anthropogenic fires are considered to have changed the Holocene vegetation of North America (Russell, 1983), fire is certainly not new to the wet tropical rain forests. Studies in the headwaters of the Amazon (Sanford et al., 1985) have found abundant evidence of charcoal up to 6,000 years old in the rain forest soils of the Upper Rio Negro in Venezuela. Charcoal deposits about 500 years old were also found in the colluvial soils in several locations in the undisturbed and unburned lowland rain forest in the Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan, Indonesia (Shimokawa, 1988). A report by Endert (1927)-which described extensive fires in the coastal area along the Bengalon River, East Kalimantan in 1915 following a long drought period in 1914-and further findings (Goldammer and Seibert, 1989) of charcoal deposits of up to 17,500 years old from neighbouring locations suggest that fires have repeatedly broken out in the lowland dipterocarp rain forest of East Kalimantan since the late Pleistocene.

During the early 1980s to early 1990s, and especially in the long drought period of 1982-3, extensive fires swept through natural forests in many parts of the world. While the ravaging fires in Australia and Europe received wide media coverage, 1 million hectares of larch forests were wiped out on the Tahsing-an-ling mountain in northeastern China (H. Tagawa, personal communication).

Similar fires also occurred in Sumatra, Borneo and a number of other places in SouthEast Asia, with the worst and most extensive ones in Sabah and East Kalimantan. In Sabah, fire burned at least 950000 hectares of logged and unlogged dryland forests (Beaman et al., 1985). In East Kalimantan, it burned 2 717 000 hectares of swamp and dryland forests or 3 193 000 hectares including settlement and agricultural land areas (Schindele, Thoma and Panzer, 1989). The East Kalimantan areas were again struck by drought and fire in 1987, though less intense and also smaller in scale. There were further outbreaks, larger than in 1987, in 1991.

Furthermore, in the United States during 1990 alone, 10 000 of the 300 000-hectare Yosemite National Park (USA Today, 18 August 1990) and nearly half of the 880000 hectares of the Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains (Cross, 1990) was burned out. These occurrences highlight the importance of fire as a factor that affects the world's resources and environments.

This chapter is an attempt to assess the role of fire in the loss or impairment of the natural resources and environments of South-East Asia. Ignoring domestic fires, and those that often happen in settlement or industrial areas, only wildfires that occur in wildland areas, including swidden agricultural fields, grassland, scrub and forest areas, are discussed. The great forest blaze in East Kalimantan in 1982-3 will be used as a reference.

Losses and impairments due to fire

Uses of Fire

Generally, the use of fire in wildland areas has been limited to swidden agriculture, maintenance of hunting or grazing ground, and in forestry activities. In swidden agriculture, it has been an effective traditional way of clearing the land for crops. To maintain hunting or grazing ground, rural people usually use fire to clear old growths and, at the same time, to enhance new growth of young plant materials that are more palatable to wildlife or their cattle.

Although not widely used in South-East Asian forestry (Matthews; 1989), fire does play a role, particularly in silviculture and forest protection. By burning the forest floor periodically to reduce accumulation of litter and slashes, the occurrence and spread of a bigger and more devastating blaze can be avoided. Burning clears the litter and humus layers and exposes the mineral soils in preparation for the regeneration of the plant/timber species; and it also stimulates the shedding and germination of seeds. Fire can eliminate or reduce the weedy herb and shrub layers that otherwise use soil nutrients needed by timber. Infestation by insects and the incidence of diseases caused by fungus and others can be lowered by burning.

While the practice of burning may be of benefit, extensive wildfires that escape controlled burns or that may be caused by natural agents or by careless smokers are becoming increasingly frequent. Regardless of the scale, the burning of plant biomass or vegetation causes losses and impairments to the properties of soil and water bodies, the biological resources, the atmospheric conditions, and ultimately also the economy and welfare of the people.

Impacts on Soil and Water

In the tropical rain forest, the greater part of mineral nutrients are locked up in the plant biomass. Fire releases most of these nutrients for return to the soil, where they become readily available for plant growth. Burning also converts litter and humus of low pH to ash of higher pH which encourages nitrogenfixing bacteria to produce more nitrogen (Matthews, 1989). While these processes improve the soil fertility, this benefit may not last long. Most of the nutrients will soon be washed away by subsequent rains.

Other processes, however, may be quite contrary to intention. Fire can damage the soil fungal flora that help roots of plant species (such as dipterocarps and many other tropical rain-forest species) absorb nutrients from the soil and litter (W. Smits, personal communication). As indicated by Bormann and Likens (1979), fire can also remove certain nutrients by volatilization. Oxidation by fire, which is very rapid, promotes the decomposition of organic matter remaining in the soil, and the high intensity of heat may damage the structure of the soil. With the elimination of the plant biomass, much-if not all-of any subsequent rainfall will be directly hitting the bare ground surface, thus, dispersing the soil structures into finer particles, which then clog the soil pores. Under such conditions, much of the rain-water will be deflected as surface runoff: eroding the soil and the relatively fertile ash left by the fire. Thus, the burning of vegetation will greatly reduce the availability of nutrients in the ecosystem and increase the incidence and intensity of flash floods as well as accelerating soil erosion and siltation.

Following the 1982-3 forest fire in East Kalimantan, serious floods were experienced on major rivers in the province. Houses along the tributaries of the Mahakam River, for example, were submerged for several months during the 1983-4 rainy season (Wirawan, 1984c). A bridge along the Bengalon River, just north of the Kutai National Park, was reported to have been washed away. Furthermore, a study by Shimokawa (1988) within the Park area showed that soil erosion accelerated more than tenfold, from 0.13 - 0.35 millimetres per year in the unburned forest area to 2.30 - 4.65 millimetres per year in the burned forest area.

The Effect on Atmospheric Conditions

The burning of vegetation releases soot and gases into the atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) such as nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and hydrocarbons such as methane (CH4). In addition, soils exposed after the removal of forest cover also produce nitrous oxide (N2O), just like the nitrogen-rich fertilizers spread over fields (Graedel and Crutzen, 1989). Most of these gases-which are quite volatile, particularly in the presence of the hydroxyl radical (OH)- play a very Important direct or indirect role in regulating the climate of the earth (McElroy and Wofsy, 1986). The reactions of these and other gases in the atmosphere vary according to the local mixture of gases and particles, the temperature, the intensity of the sun's radiation, the presence of different kinds of clouds or precipitation, and the patterns of airflow (Graedel and Crutzen, 1989). Figure 11.1 shows the results of these reactions and their related problems.

Within days, the NOx can be converted by the OH radical into nitric acid (HNO3), which is readily dissolved in water or water droplets to form acid rain. As the reaction occurs soon after the NOx become available, the atmospheric life of this gas is relatively short and the deposition of the resulting acid is of regional significance only. This acid deposition, which can occur everywhere-including the Tropics-contributes to costly corrosion problems of outdoor equipment, buildings, etc. In addition, it may also increase the acidity of lakes, leading to the reduction in size and diversity of fish populations (Graedel and Crutzen, 1989), and creating local drinkingwater problems.

In the Tropics, the strong and abundant solar radiation stimulates a quick photochemical reaction to the NOx. According to Graedel and Crutzen, this reaction makes the ozone concentration near the ground five times higher than nominal. Newell, Reichle and Seiler (1989) further state that the formation and accumulation of ozone near the ground is encouraged by the increase of CO. Ozone is a toxic gas which causes eye irritation, impairment of lungs, and damage to trees and crops. Together with NOx and soot, ozone reduces visibility through creation of smog.

FIGURE 11.1 Problems Related to the Effects of Fire on Atmospheric Conditions

Graedel and Crutzen also show that an increase in atmospheric CO encourages the accumulation of methane. Because they react readily with CO, fewer OH radicals remain in the atmosphere to break down CH4 and other molecules. With continuing production from rice fields, cattle, landfill and burning of biomass and fossil fuel, more CH4 will be accumulated in the atmosphere. The increase of this and other gases (CO2, N2O, O3) will add to the greenhouse effect and thus contribute to atmospheric warming. An analysis by Palm et al. (1986) shows a net release of between 8 and 19 x 10 15 grams of carbon from 1860 to 1980 and between 0.15 and 0.43 x 10 15 grams in 1980, caused mainly by changes of forests to shifting cultivation and other permanently cleared land. A detailed study by Newell, Reichle and Seiler (1989) shows that the combustion in tropical rain forests and savannas generates at least as much CO as in fossil fuels. Thus, through intricate chain reactions, the burning of vegetation could cause local or regional problems, such as poor health, acid rain, corrosion, lower fishery and crop production, and smog, as well as augmenting the global warming problem.

Except for the problems related to breathing, drinking water and smog, there are few written reports on the atmospheric effects of the 1982-3 forest fire in East Kalimantan. However, the increase of acidity (acid rain), floods, and other changes in water chemistry brought about by the ash were apparently the factors that triggered the population explosions of Aeromonas hydrophila, Staphyloc c us sp. and Pseudomonas sp. that attacked and caused an epidemic of skin infection among the fish population of the Mahakam River (Tempo, 4 August 1984). In addition, the disease also attacked and caused serious health problems to the protected freshwater dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris). which is unique to the middle Mahakam areas (Wirawan, 1986).

One other aspect that received wide attention during and soon after the burning period was the smog which seriously affected transportation systems. Widodo and Rahman (1984) noted that thick smoke covered areas near the source of the fire for more than three months. Elsewhere, airline pilots reported that dense smog reached up to 5 000 metres. Further away, the sky was hazy, and noontime resembled dusk, with the sun as red as at sunset. Flights to inland areas were cancelled and, at limes, Balikpapan airport was closed or used only between 2 and 5 p.m. when convection lifted the smog. Similar conditions affected other airports in Kalimantan, as well as impeding traffic at airports further away in Surabaya and Singapore. The same happened again in 1991.

Poor visibility also affected travel by land and water. Although there is no record of accidents directly related to this problem, travelling by road between Balikpapan and Samarinda was very dangerous, not only because of poor visibility but also because flaring fires often jumped across the road. Furthermore, ships had to wait at Balikpapan harbour for improved visibility, and travelling upstream along the Mahakam River took almost twice as long as normal. Water travel by night was impossible. No deaths were attributed to hunger, but food shortages caused by transportation problems were reported from a number of places.

Impacts on Biological Resources

The effects of fire on biological resources relate to the losses of type and number of species of both plants and animals. The number of individuals and the volume or dominance of each species is affected, and their regeneration and maintenance are impaired. These impacts vary according to the size of the affected area as well as the intensity and frequency of fire.


Small-scale, low-intensity, low-frequency fires, such as those which commonly occur in traditional shifting agricultural systems, have been considered by Connell (1978) and Huston (1979) as an example of the moderate-level disturbance factors that stimulate maintenance of high biodiversity in the tropical rain forest. These fires help create a mosaic of diverse vegetational stages that allow great numbers of plant and animal species, with varied ecological requirements, to live and grow together within the area.

In contrast, large-scale devastating fires nullify such a possibility. When they recur frequently within the same area, even small-scale fires can change the floristically rich, multi-layered forest vegetation into a single-layer grass vegetation dominated by the fireresistant alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica ). This phenomenon, for example, occurs in the Riam Kanan Reservoir area in South Kalimantan, where sporadic small fires occur every year and maintain the extensive alang-alang grassland in the area.

In the 1982-3 drought and fire in East Kalimantan, the loss of biological resources, though uncertain, was far from uniform. Based on a relatively short period of ground and aerial survey in the affected area, Lennertz and Panzer (1984) recognized three classes of damage. Class I areas received only drought damage, and 10 per cent of canopy trees died; while class 2 areas had both drought and fire damage, and 10 50 per cent of canopy trees died; and class 3 areas suffered severe burns, and more than 50 per cent of the canopy trees died. They reported that the area affected by the fire was 3.5 million hectares, including 800000 hectares of primary forest, 1 400000 hectares of logged-over forest, 750000 hectares of secondary forest, shifting cultivation and settlements, as well as 550 000 hectares of peat swamps and peat-swamp forest.

Although the 1983 4 ground and air surveys suggested that most of the affected areas had class 2 or 3 damage, Wirawan (1984a) found that the number of dead canopy trees was not always correlated with the intensity of the burn. He described three large segments of forests (totalling about 380 000-400000 hectares) that were not affected by the fire, but were identified by Lennertz and Panzer as severely burned. Here, the high percentage of dead canopy trees (up to 71 per cent) was found to be the result of drought only. Wirawan (1985) also reported that after the fire, live remnants of the forests varied from scattered individual trees, through pockets or stands of a few unburned hectares, to largely undamaged areas several thousand hectares in size.

Partly because of these findings, Schindele, Thoma and Panzer (1989) undertook a more detailed study using satellite imagery, aerial video recordings and various maps. After mapping the burned and unburned forest areas and other preliminary investigations, a detailed forest inventory was carried out in the burned areas through a stratified, random, 'double-cluster' sampling design. As these findings basically support Wirawan's observations, and are directly related to the subject of this chapter, it is important to review this study in some detail. Table 11.1 presents a summary of the results. Their map of the burned and unburned areas is reproduced in generalized form in Figure 11.2.

With reference to species survival, the unburned amount is more important. Relatively high percentages of the limestone and rock forests (44 per cent), the kerangas or heath forest (55 per cent), the brackish swamp vegetation (77 per cent) and the tidal forests (100 per cent) were unaffected by the fire. Consequently, most of the plant species found in these forest types should still he represented in the unburned area. Although the proportions are somewhat lower in the peat/freshwater swamp forest (28 per cent) and other swamp vegetations (18 per cent), because of the relatively uniform habitat and species distributions as well as the low species diversities, a similar situation may also be true for these forest types. However, a greater loss of species could occur from the mixed lowland rain forests.

TABLE 11.1 Burned and Unburned Areas of Vegetation and Land-use Types within the 4733 000-hectare Study Area Affected by the 1982-1983 Forest Fire in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Vegetation/Land-use Types


  Total Burned Unburned
  ('000 ha) (%)a ('000ha) (%)b ('000ha) (%)b
Mixed lowland forests 3 244 69 2 175 67 1 069 33
Undisturbed forest 410 9 46 11 364 89
Disturbed forest 2 807 60 2 103 75 704 25
Lightly 1096 23 636 58 460 42
Moderately 984 21 827 84 157 16
Heavily 727 15 640 88 87 12
Converted to plantations 27 1 26 96 1 4
Limestone/rock forest 43 1 24 56 19 44
Kerangas/heath forest 40 1 18 45 22 55
Peat/freshwater swamp forest 566 12 405 72 161 28
Undisturbed 181 4 30 17 151 83
Disturbed 385 8 375 97 10 3
Other swamp vegetations 110 2 90 82 20 18
Brackish swamp vegetations 22 0 5 23 17 77
Tidal forests 41 86 0 0 41 100
Total forest areas 4066 86 2717 67 1 349 33
Shifting cultivation 387 8 329 85 58 15
Permanent cultivation/settlement 213 5 147 69 66 31
Water bodies (lakes/rivers) 67 1 0 0 67 100
Total study area 4733 100 3 193 67 1540 33

Source: Modified from Schindele. Thoma and Panzer (1989).
a Refers to percentage of the total study area of 4 733 hectares.
b Refers to percentage of that vegetation type: for example in row 1, of 3 244 hectares. 67 per cent was burned and 33 per cent, unburned.

In the East Kalimantan area, 2.2 million hectares or 69 per cent of the floristically rich 3.2 million hectares of lowland rain forests was affected by the fire. The remaining 1 million hectares of unburned forests, which may have been affected by the drought and logging, consists of 89 per cent of the 410 000 hectares of undisturbed forest, 25 per cent of the 2 807 000 hectares of disturbed or logged forest, and only 4 per cent of the 27 000 hectares of unclassified forests that were converted to plantations. As the fire in the burned undisturbed forest (11 per cent) was limited to surface fire that damaged only the undergrowth, and no discernible differences between the burned and unburned forests were any longer observable on 1988 satellite imagery, the forest was considered to have recovered. Therefore, the 410 000 hectares of undisturbed forest can be considered as floristically unaffected by the fire.

FIGURE 11.2 Burned and Unburned Areas in the 1982-1983 Forest Fires in East Kalimantan

However, in the disturbed or logged forest, the fire damage varied with the degree of disturbance that existed before the fire. In the lightly disturbed forest, the effects were primarily in the lower and middle layers only. In spite of fire, the multi-layered structure of the forest was basically maintained. Before the fire, 75 per cent of the forest was logged and 25 pet cent was still primary forest. In this category of forest, the diversity of tree species remaining after the fire was considered still quite high. From the 223 most important tree species recognized in the study area prior to the field survey, 155 were recorded during the sample inventory. Together with species of Lauraceae, Moraceae, Myrtaceae, Verbenaceae and Caesalpiniaceae, dipterocarps occurred in lower and middle layers as well as in the upper layer, where they formed the dominant species with a relative basal area of 24 per cent and a relative abundance of 8 per cent. The disturbed parts were taken over by dense populations of Euphorbiaceae, particularly the pioneer species Macaranga gigantea and M. triloba, which have a relative basal area of 19 per cent and a relative abundance of 33 per cent.

In the moderately disturbed forest, the lower and middle layers were seriously damaged and to some degree so was the upper layer. Before the fire, 80 per cent of the forest was logged. Here, although 141 of the 223 important tree species were still observed during the inventory, dominance had shifted towards the pioneer species. While the upper layer was still recognizable and was dominated by the dipterocarps and species of Lauraceae, the middle layer was nearly absent, and the lower layer dominated by members of the Euphorbiaceae particularly M. gigantea, M. triloba and M. hypoleuca, Moraceae, Verbenaceae and Leeaceae. While the relative abundance of Euphorbiaceae remained the same, its relative basal area was increased to 21 per cent. In contrast, the relative abundance of the dipterocarps was reduced to 4 per cent and the relative basal area to 17 per cent.

All layers of the heavily disturbed forest were seriously damaged. Although prior to the fire, 80 per cent of the forest was also logged, the logging activities in this forest category were carried out within eight years of the fire. Here, although 125 of the 223 important species were still observed, the whole forest structure was destroyed by the fire and the surviving trees occurred primarily as scattered individuals, or groups of individuals, in the matrix of a single, relatively uniform layer of pioneer species formed by members of the Euphorbiaceae. While the relative abundance and dominance of the Euphorbiaceae increased to 30 and 27 per cent, respectively, the relative abundance of the fire-resistant Eusideroxylon zwageri (Lauraceae) and certain species of Shorea, which form the second most important species after the Euphorbiaceae, was between 3.2 and 3.7 per cent only. In addition, as shown in Table 11.2, the increasing loss of species diversity and dominance of the 'climax' primary rain forest species are further indicated by the reductions of the 'importance value' of timber species, and the volumes of standing stocks of timbers with diameters larger than 20 centimetres.

TABLE 11.2 'Importance Value' of Timber Species and Volumes of Standing Stocks of Exported, Local and Other Timbers Larger Than 20 cm dbh after the Fire, in the Three Categories of Forest Disturbance

Forest Disturbance  

Volume of Standing Stock (m³/ha)

Category of 'Importance' Value (%) Exported Timber Local Timber Others Total
Lightly 37 61.7 22.7 30.6 115.0
Moderately 31 34.4 13.9 19.1 67.4
Heavily 26 15.7 7.2 12.8 36.0

Source: As for Table 11.1

From these findings, Schindele, Thoma and Panzer (1989) concluded that the lightly disturbed forest should be able to recover naturally to its undisturbed condition within a few decades, while the moderately and heavily disturbed forest will take much longer. Combining the total area of lightly disturbed forest with undisturbed forest, in a few decades, almost half of the mixed lowland rain forest will be back to its original undisturbed condition. While many species have certainly been lost during the fire, there is no doubt that these areas contain a significant representative sample of the mixed lowland rain-forest flora. Together with what is left in the limestone and rock forests, the kerangas or heath forest, the peat/freshwater swamp forest, brackish and other swamp vegetation and also the tidal forest, they all form a significant representative sample of the remaining flora after having been affected by drought and fire.


To a certain degree, the same situation may also exist with the animal community. Somewhat similarly to the pioneer species of Macaranga that took over the barren lands after the fire, Wirawan and Hudiyono (1983) noted population explosions of butterfly and moth species in the Kutai National Park areas soon after the fire. While these insects apparently were making the best use of the rich minerals that became available from the ash, an epidemic of caterpillars was also attacking the dry logs and dead trees created by the fire (Asiaweek, 13 July 1984). In addition, Leighton and Wirawan (1986) noted the abundance of spiders building their webs between the standing dead trees. Aside from these phenomena, the change in animal life was less conspicuous.

A study on the mammals of Bukit Soeharto Reserve by Yasuma and Alikorda (1990) confirmed that 1 of 8 Insectivora, 4 of 10 Scandentia, 1 of 1 Dermoptera, 8 of 92 Chiroptera, 9 of 13 Primata, 1 of 1 Pholidota, 18 of 61 Rodentia, 12 of 28 Carnivora, 0 of 1 Proboscidea, 0 of 1 Perissodactyla, and 6 of 12 Artiodactyla species recorded for Borneo are still present in this logged and burned forest. Considering that many of these Bornean species (such as the orang-utan (Primate), Sumatran rhinoceros (Perissodactyla), elephant (Proboscidea) and others) did not occur in the area even before the forest fire, the survival of these mammals is relatively high. This is probably also the case for other parts of the burned area.


The eastern coastal half of the affected area is the most intensively studied pan of the province, and perhaps of all Kalimantan. The richness of wildlife long ago led Witkamp (1932) to propose a 2-million-hectare reserve bordered by natural boundaries, which happened to be also the distributional limits of some of the key animals (the orang-utan and Sumatran rhinoceros). The area was defined by the Miau and Karangan Rivers in the north, the Makassar Strait in the east, the Mahakam River in the south, as well as the Rantau Kedang, Ngayau and Telen Rivers in the west. Other key animals that Witkamp considered important in this area were the Malayan sun bear, banteng, sambar deer and proboscis monkey. Approval was given by the Sultan of Kutai and the Dutch government in 1936 for a greatly reduced 306000-hectare reserve, but all these mammals (except for the Sumatran rhinoceros whose presence was uncertain) were still present in this reserve when the Ministry of Agriculture reduced it in 1971 to 200000 hectares. All the studies carried out in this reserve up to 1985 are listed by Wirawan (1985).

Before the drought and forest fire, Pearson (1975) found this reserve (now known as the Kutai National Park) rich in bird species. Based on a survey in the area, he listed some 300 species belonging to 47 families and sub-families, including 239 species of 33 families and sub-families or 83 per cent of the forest birds of Borneo. Cockburn and Sumardja (1979) observed 7 species of ungulates (including the Sumatran rhinoceros, banteng, sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer and bearded pig), 12 species of carnivores (including the Malayan sun bear, leopard cat, binturong, civets, mongooses, weasel and otters), 11 species of primates (including the orang-utan, macaques, proboscis and leaf monkeys, Bornean gibbon, slow lords and tarsier) and 25 species of rodents (including the porcupine, mice, rats and 15 species of squirrels).

After the fire, studies by Wirawan (1985), Leighton and Wirawan (1986), Azuma (1988), Doi (1988) and Suzuki (1988) indicated that most of the big mammals (except the Sumatran rhinoceros) were still in the area. While smaller animals are more difficult to see and therefore need more intensive fieldwork, major concerns were raised on the population status of the frugivorous birds and rodents, as noted by Leighton and Wirawan (1986) in the Mentoko study area. The fire killed 52 per cent of the fruit trees belonging to the Meliaceae and Myrtaceae, which are highly preferred by the 6 species of hornbills; 2 of the 5 territorial hornbills were no longer observed in the area during the fieldwork in September 1983 and August 1984. With the loss of many of the 50 species of Lauraceae trees that produce lipid-rich fruits, and other trees that produce sugar-rich fruits, both preferred by frugivorous birds such as pigeons, barbels, hill myna, green broad-bill and others, these bird species could also be disappearing.

While the large-bodied anthropoid primates were considered least affected by the fire, and they were able to adapt successfully to short-term habitat damage by shifting to less preferred food items and exploiting the insect outbreak (Berenstain, 1986; Kompas, 1984b; Suzuki, 1988); the populations of three species of diurnal seed-eating squirrels, common in the forest floor prior to the fire, were found to be definitely declining. Aside from losing their food supply, the loss of forest structure was also considered to have greatly impaired the movement of many of these tree-dwelling animals.

A preliminary study in the burned and unburned forest areas in the Park, by Yajima (1988), found that the terrestrial invertebrate communities (macro-soil animals, floor animals and phytal animals) of the tropical rain forests were recovering quite quickly after the fire. Despite losses of plants and animals during the drought and forest fire, the above studies suggest that significant biological resources still remain in this unique area. Even though half of its 200 000-hectare area was affected by the fire, Kutai National Park is still considered to be the only large reserve in the world that contains such an assortment of biological resources (Leighton and Wirawan, 1986; Ministry of Forestry, 1991; Petocz, Wirawan and MacKinnon, 1990; Wirawan, 1985).

Impacts on the People and the National Economy

Because the problems resulting from fire are complex, and very often difficult to quantify. complete economic assessment and valuation of the losses of crops, personal property and the diversity of biological resources, as well as impairment to the environment, is not simple. Nevertheless, tire greatly affects the welfare and the economy of the people, the country and even the world.

As previously described, some of the problems that affect the welt:are of the people, particularly local rural people, are related to health, sources of drinking water. food and cash income. While drought may have already reduced the supply of water before the fire, acid rain causes further damage to these water resources-damage which then affects not only the sources of drinking water but also the fish stocks on which many of the rural people, such as those living in the middle Mahakam, depend. Severe food shortages may also be caused by transportation delays brought about by poor visibility and the loss of bridges. Furthermore, the reduction of wildlife, due to the direct effect of fire or the loss of habitats, reduces the availability of meat. Damage to vegetation, affecting timber and non-thnber forest products (such as rattan, gaharu and natural latex), and the loss of crops (like food plants and pepper), eliminates sources of food and cash income. At villages surrounding the Bukit Soeharto Reserve, for example, farmers lost a great deal of their pepper crop. Because the crop is so valuable and important for their survival, some of them were reported to have suffered severe mental breakdown because of the loss.

All these effects were of both local and national significance. But, while loss of species might not immediately impact on decision makers, major concern was felt over the loss of timber and non-timber forest products. Attempts to evaluate these losses were made by Lennertz and Panzer (1984) and Schindele, Thoma and Panzer (1989). As noted earlier, the total forest area estimated by Lennertz and Panzer to have been affected by the drought and fire was 3.5 million hectares. Based on the estimated volumes of timber lost in the three classes of forest damage and the price of timber at that time ($80 per cubic metre), they calculated that the total loss of commercial timber from the area was $5.5 billion.

They went on, however, to look forward, comparing the present standing stock volumes with the volume that is expected to become available again 35 years after the first time the forest was logged. In this calculation, it was assumed that through the Indonesian Selective Logging System, the volume of timber recovered during each logging cycle is about the same as the volume of the first cut. Based on the standing stock volumes shown in Table 11.2, the loss of timber from the lightly, moderately and heavily disturbed forests was respectively estimated to be 25, 50 and 100 per cent of the timber otherwise available during the next cutting cycle. Although reliable data on the amount of commercial timber harvested during the first cycle are generally lacking, a volume of 80 cubic metres per hectare was considered a good estimate. Multiplying the area of burned, disturbed forests in each of the three classes with the respective percentage of timber loss by this volume estimate, and with the 1983 price of timber, they calculated the total loss of commercial timber to be $7.98 billion.

In addition, from the 405 000 of the 566 000-hectare swamp forests burned during that time, using the local market value and the Sarawak estimate of timber volume in this forest type, the timber loss was calculated at $348 million. Together with an estimated $373 million worth of nontimber goods (such as rattan, fruits, nuts, resins, honey and latex) foregone and the cost of rehabilitation at $250 per hectare of the moderately and heavily burned forests totalling another $373 million, the total loss of timber and non-timber goods from the area affected by the 1982-3 drought and fire was calculated to be $9.075 billion.

Factors promoting the spread of fire

Matthews (1989) has suggested that the danger of wildfire arises from a combination of fire risk and fire hazard. Risk increases when there are people, roads and railways in or passing through the forest, as well as fire in the adjoining land. Hazard, on the other hand, increases when there are large amounts of flammable dry vegetation or slash in the forest, and these conditions are associated with high wind speed, low relative humidity and high air temperature. The danger of wildfire becomes extreme when high risk is combined with high hazard.

The potential for fire to spread, according to Bormann and Likens (1979), is determined by factors such as patterns of wind flow, distribution of water bodies (lakes, stream and wetlands), topography and dryness of soil (due to texture, soil depth, slope and aspect), as well as composition, accumulation and spatial distribution of organic fuel on the ground. With reference to organic fuel, susceptibility to fire and its spread may be greatly reduced in the humid Tropics, where effective decomposition by bacterial, fungal and detritivore activities can contribute to a rapid turnover of litter, and to only modest standing crops of dead wood and forest-floor material. Indeed, it was stated by Paul W. Richards (1952), Whitmore (1984) and Mueller-Dombois (1981) that fire cannot burn pristine tropical rain forest.

However, these elements in a potential fire condition can be combined in a number of different ways. Prior to the great forest fires in Sabah and East Kalimantan in 1982-3, and perhaps also in other tropical rain forest areas, the conditions involved the interaction of at least five major factors. These were swidden agriculture, logging activities, specific properties of the substrates, flammability of the biomass and change of climate (Leighton and Wirawan, 1986; Wirawan, 1985).

Swidden Agriculture

The origin of the 1982-3 fire has not been definitely identified, but swidden agriculture has been considered as one of the most plausible sources (Wirawan, 1985). Swidden, slash-and-burn or shifting agriculture has been traditionally practiced by rural people in Borneo, as in many other parts of the Tropics. With the intention of planting crops at the onset of the rainy season in November or December, they usually start clearing and then burning their fields during the second half of the dry or less rainy period, usually in September and October. The timing of this slash-and-burn practice is well-established and is primarily based on the annual variation of the monsoon. While November or December rains will provide a final check on the spread of fire, people usually select and clear their fields in isolated places, so that wildfire cannot spread beyond them. The extensive logging activities during the 1970s and 1980s, however, have brought about changes in this traditional practice.

Logging Activities

Logging activities have greatly increased both fire risk and hazard (C. Mackie, 1984). Access roads opened up the forest to both immigrant and local people for making fields. While shifting agriculture has been considered the major cause of the deforestation in South-East Asia, a study by FAO/UNEP (1981) showed that 70-80 per cent of swidden cultivation took place in recently logged-over forest areas. As agriculture was mostly developed along or near the logging roads, rather than isolated within the forest, the sources of fire were brought closer to each other and into the forest itself.

By opening up the forest canopy, logging activities have greatly stimulated the growth and accumulation of plant biomass near the ground. Additional dead biomass is also provided by deformed logs and branches left behind by loggers. A study by Phillips (1986) in Sabah found that 55 per cent of the 120 cubic metres per hectare of wood felled was left behind to dry and rot on the forest floor. The failure of the rainy season to arrive on time, as was the case in late 1982, prolonged the dry season, dried this plant biomass, and then helped the fires started by shifting cultivators in September or October to spread wildly unchecked for several months until heavy rains fell in May 1983. As a result, 85 per cent of the burned forest in Sabah, and 70 per cent in East Kalimaritan, occurred in the logged-over forest areas.

As already discussed, forest damage varies with logging intensities. Forests in many isolated hills or unlogged areas were not burned, and fire did not penetrate beyond 2 kilometres into the undisturbed forest from the boundary of the burned logged-over area. Even there, only the thin litter layer and trees smaller than 5-10 centimetres in diameter were destroyed (Wirawan, 1984b). The areas most severely affected by the fire were those located along the access roads, where logging was most intense (Kompas, 1984a; Wirawan, 1985). Table 11.1 shows that only 11 per cent of the 410000 hectares of undisturbed primary forest was affected-lightly-by the fire. In contrast, the area burned increased to 58 per cent in the lightly disturbed or logged forest, to 84 per cent in the moderately disturbed forest, and to 88 per cent in the heavily logged forest.

Properties of Substrates

The specific properties of substrates that can promote the spread of fire are related to dryness, which helps make the available biomass more combustible. Because of differences in soil-water retention (due to texture, depth, organic-matter content and other qualities), during a rainless period, one substrate may be drier than others. Examples of extreme substrates are ultramafic soils which often occur on steep hillsides (Beaman et al., 1985), as well as soils on limestone, siliceous sand deposits (podzols) and, under extreme conditions, also peat. While in the fine-textured soils, up to 70 per cent of the dominant Shorea and Dryobalanops- canopy trees larger than 60 centimetres in diameter were killed by the long drought in the Kutai National Park (Wirawan, 1984a), the complete burning of segments of the limestone forest (56 per cent), heath or kerangas forest (45 per cent) and peat forest (72 per cent) was probably preceded by the drying of these forests.

Although peat forest has not been considered inflammable (Mueller-Dombois, 1981), under extreme conditions as in 1982-3, the water level in the rivers surrounding the peat swamp in the middle Mahakam area was 6 metres below normal; much of the surface layer may already have been dry before fire began. Since most of the rooting systems are in this upper layer. many of the trees may already have died. The dried trees and peat in the substrates provided extra combustion energy for the subsequent fires to burn the forest more intensively and extensively (Malingreau, Stevens and Fellows, 1985).

Certain substrates may also facilitate the spread of fire even below the ground surface. The author observed in the transmigration area at Padang Sugihan near Palembang, South Sumatra in late 1982 that one may walk on the peat surface while smoke from the burning peat beneath obstructs one's vision. In East Kalimantan, fire was also spread by the exposed coal seams that occur in a series of bands within an area of about 20 kilometres from the coast. In fact, some of these exposed coal seams that caught fire in 1982-3 are still burning.

Flammability of Biomass

The relatively thick layer of litter that accumulates during a long drought period can easily fuel a surface fire, but such fire is generally of low intensity and does not produce significant flame. This starts when the fire burns logs and branches Iying on the ground, or the standing dried shrub layer, before reaching the tree canopy. The burning of the standing trees, however, is quite variable, depending on species composition and stand density. In Borneo, the lowland forest is dominated by members of the dipterocarp family. All Bornean members of this family as well as certain members of the Burseraceae, Guttiferae, Anacardiaceae and Styracaceae families produce resin or damar from their trunks (Gianno, 1986; Meijer and Wood, 1964). Except for the species of the genera Dipterocarpus and Anisoptera which produce liquid resin, all other species have resins that harden soon after exudation.

The damar resin is a fuel and has commercial value. Liquid resin is collected by firing after tapping (Ashton, 1982; Gianno, 1986). The hard resin, however, is gathered either by felling the tree and then collecting the crystals by splitting the bole (for camphor of Dryobalanops aromatica) (Ashton, 1982) or tapping the bole; or digging the soil at the base of the trunk. While the amount produced may vary with the species, 200 500 litres of oleoresin may be tapped from 200 to 250 trees by 1 person in 1 week, and 5-6 gunny sacks may be collected from the base of a single Shorea longisperma tree (Gianno, 1986).

These damar are highly flammable. When lit, they burn continuously and the native people use them for torches or lighting (Gianno, 1986). In fieldwork, damar is usually used as a fire starter. Since it does not absorb water, it is not affected by rain. Because of this property, the dipterocarps and all other damar-producing trees are normally quite susceptible to fire. Moreover, as canopy trees of certain species were already killed and dried by prolonged drought, the damar-producing dipterocarps would have been highly combustible. The 'wide scattering towering infernos as the tops of drought-stricken, formerly evergreen trees sent jets of flame more than 60 meters above the forest floor' and the huge explosions that produce fireballs resembling 'shell bursts in the smoke', as observed and described by a German expert (Dr Wolfgang Weisner) working in the province (Asiaweek, 13 July 1984), could have originated from the accumulation of those damar or damar-producing trees.

As the distribution of such species ranges from solitary, to clumps of a group of individuals, to stands that occupy relatively large areas such as a ridge or a slope, the burning of these tree species could be another reason for the variability of forest damage. Such variation is also related to the survival of trees that are somewhat resistant to fire. Some of these trees are Borassodendron borneensis, Eusideroxylon zwageri, Koordersiodendron pinnatum, Alstonia sp. and Dyera sp. (Leighton and Wirawan, 1986; Tagawa et al., 1988; Wirawan, 1985).

Climatic Variability

As discussed in some detail by Nicholls (Chapter 7) the extended drought that delayed the start of the rainy season in 1982 was associated with a very strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. Since El Niño is associated with a dry or drought period in much of South-East Asia, an accurate prediction is vital for improved preparation to avoid the serious effects of drought and large-scale fire, elaborated above. This is of particular importance in a region, such as eastern Borneo, which has sufficient rainfall in most years to support the tropical rain forest, and where it is almost only during El Niño events that wildfire occurs.

Outlook for Fire Incidence

In principle, all five factors discussed above will continue to exist into the future. Logging will remain part of economic activities, and swidden agriculture will be practiced for the foreseeable future. Little can be done to change the specific properties of the substrates and the flammability of plant biomass in order to reduce their susceptibility to fire. Although there are certain plant species that are more resistant to fire and these must be used increasingly, the majority of the necessary and desired timber species-such as the dipterocarps-are very susceptible to fire, if not highly combustible. Furthermore, while the cyclic variation of climate is highly irregular, there must be improved understanding and prediction of such change.

While each of the elements contribute to the risk, hazard and spread of fire, it is the timing of the burning of swidden fields in relation to the start of the rainy season that seems to be most critical. Long-term experience and adjustment to the relatively regular wet and dry annual climatic cycle determine the right time to burn the swidden field. The rains of the wet monsoon normally provide water to the young crops, as well as help stop the spread of fire. The burning, therefore, is done at a specific period of the year. In contrast, the cycle of ENSO events is quite variable. It severely affects the welfare and economy of the people and the country, and the reduction of its impacts would greatly benefit the local people and government. To meet these aims, and based on the discussion of the factors that promote the spread of fire, special attention should be directed at swidden agriculture and logging or timber-production activities.

Reducing the incidence of large-scale fire

In discussing the means by which the incidence of forest fires can be reduced, Matthews (1989) suggested three major steps. The first step is the establishment of an organization for speedy reporting, while the second is the provision of effective means for suppressing fires, and the third is the prevention and control of fires. Soon after the 1982-3 fire in East Kalimantan, the Indonesian government took actions related to the first and second of these steps. However, in spite of the devastating loss of biological resources (particularly timber) and the continuing potential of fire risks and hazards, it appears that no special measure for preventing and controlling forest fire has yet been included in the logging procedures in Indonesia. The 1991 fires, during which appeals were made for international help to fight the conflagrations, might now spur action.

Soon after the 1982-3 fire, pilots were required to look for and report on the occurrence of any fire observed during regular flights over the area. These actions should be continued. To help pilots make accurate reports on the location of fires, it would be useful to provide maps of the area on which to mark sightings. This could then be handed to the airport authority at the end of the day and all pilot reports over a period of time could be compiled into a single map. This map should be available to the general public, and those charged with the suppression of fires should regularly receive a copy of the map. The principal airport meteorological stations could be charged with keeping such a map and co-ordinating its distribution.

In case of fire, the military and the forest agency (Kanwil Kehutanan) are perhaps the best equipped to co-ordinate and carry out suppression. While the military has a large reserve of organized manpower that can be sent to the sites of fire at relatively short notice, the Kanwil Kehutanan could organize the local logging companies to provide the necessary logistical support.

Because the suppression of large-scale wildfire will always be difficult, prevention or control of its spread is the best measure. Critical factors to consider include swidden fields as potential sources of fire, logging activities which promote the growth or accumulation of combustible biomass near the ground, and the severe fire damage that has occurred along logging roads and in heavily logged areas. Moreover, logging roads are usually located on ridges that are relatively dry and more susceptible to fire than other locations. Many canopy trees, mostly dipterocarps (Shorea and Dryobalanops), were killed by the drought and, in general, fire would not extensively burn the undisturbed primary rain forest. Despite this factor, the dominant presence of dipterocarps and other damar - producing trees could make the South-East Asian rain forests highly susceptible to fire, if not even highly combustible in the presence of unusually dry conditions.

Based on these considerations, measures could be taken for reducing the incidence of fire. Perhaps potentially most important are communitydevelopment programmes for forest dwellers or those living in villages adjacent to forest areas. These matters need to be handled with care because of the resistance of shifting cultivators to externally induced programmes of change (Atal, 1984). Direct involvement of rural communities in planning, implementation and development of programmes leads to a better chance of success (Chambers, 1984; de los Reyes, 1984).

Buffer zones that economically benefit these communities should be promoted. They could be established by helping communities develop agroforestry techniques that serve their needs as well as meet the criteria for reducing fire threat. Through correct selection of species and planting designs that are to be applied along the forest boundaries, these fields could become an effective firebreak. Many ethnic groups are well known for their capabilities in developing traditional forestry practices and, in establishing such a buffer zone, it is very important to first investigate the local traditional methods as the basis for development (Wirawan, 1990).

No less important are better forestry practices, including the establishment of effective firebreaks along logging roads. These belts of trees should preferably be resistant to fire. They should be planted in alternating stands of different species and ages in burned forest along logging roads so that future logging of these trees would not be carried out at the same time. This plan would avoid forming a uniform corridor that may become an effective way of channelling the spread of the fire. Controlled burning of the forest litter layer is important along these firebreaks, especially during an expected El Niño year.

Logging blocks should be established in a mosaic pattern and cut in different years so that the remaining stands consist of forest of different ages and structure. In developing industrial tree plantations of the highly flammable damar-producing dipterocarps, these trees should be mixed with fire-resistant economic species, such as the ironwood or ulin (Eusideroxylon zwageri) and the sugar-producing aren-palm (Arenga pinnata). Plantings of dipterocarp and other high-risk trees in monocultures should be avoided. Other fire-resistant timbers and non-timber economic species should be identified in order to support the development of fire-safe timber plantations. Only by measures such as these can the greater holocaust of the next major El Niño be avoided.

A wider view of the fire hazard


WIRAWAN has comprehensively reviewed the fire hazard in the Tropics with special reference to South-East Asia, including the occurrence of the big fire in the lowland tropical forest of East Kalimantan in 1983. The following remarks will provide additional information on fire relations in natural tropical ecosystems in South-East Asia.

The fire of 1983 in East Kalimantan and Sabah took place in a tropical rain forest on well-drained soils. A small-scale study of a permanent plot in East Kalimantan by Riswan and Yusuf (1986) found that the rate of death of trees in primary forest was about 20 per cent while in the 40-year-old secondary forest it was about 32 per cent. Many surviving burned trees were able to coppice, that is, 32.5 per cent in the primary forest and 35.5 per cent in the secondary forest. Many other species were not affected by the fire.

There are also several important intra-zonal ecosystems in the South-East Asian Tropics in which the controlling factor is an extreme soil variation (Mueller-Dombois, 1981). These include the kerangas (heath) forest on podsolized soils over white sands, forests on limestone and ultrabasic soils, and peat-swamp forest. Fire has been recognized as a natural factor in these edaphically extreme rain forest ecosystems (Bruenig, 1974; Kartawinata, 1978; Mueller-Dombois, 1981; Whitmore, 1984). In these ecosystems, the activities of micro-organisms are impeded, leading to the accumulation of raw humus and litter, which in turn provides enough fuel for fire to burn during the unusually prolonged dry season. The author recorded, for instance, a deposit of charcoal at a depth of 1 metre in the soil of a kerangas forest surrounded by a vast extent of primary lowland dipterocarp rain forest in East Kalimantan, indicating the occurrence of (perhaps natural) fire in the past (, 1980). Endert (1927) reported the periodic occurrence of fire in the peatswamp forest following an unusually long drought in East Kalimantan, leading to the formation of the tall grass swamp community.

Fire recurs regularly in another zonal ecosystem-the monsoon-forest ecosystem which includes the evergreen and semi-deciduous forests. Its distribution extends from Myanmar to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines (northem Luzon), Indonesia (South and South-east Sulawesi, East Java, East and West Nusa Tenggara, East Timor and South-east Irian Jaya) and Papua New Guinea (South-west), coinciding with the monsoon climate where the drought period is usually long (Paul W. Richards, 1952; van Steenis, 1935, 1957). Fire occurs regularly, if not annually, and in many cases it has led to the formation of various types of savannah and grasslands. In Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, for instance, it occurs in the dry evergreen forest and has resulted in the formation of various types of savannah (for example, Melaleuca-Tristania-lmperata, Melaleuca-Themeda australis, Tristamia-Grevillea-Banksia), woodlands, fern scrubs and several types of grasslands (for example, Sacchurum-Imperata, IschaemumThemeda, Schoenus-Eriachne), as well as pure casuarina forest extending from lowland forest to lower montane forest zones (Paijmans, 1976). Similarly, in East Nusa Tenggara, regularly recurring fire, in combination with grazing, has changed dry evergreen Eucalyptus forest to Eucalyptus-Heterapogon savannah and HeteropogonThemeda-lmperata grasslands, as well as dry evergreen mixed forests to Acacia or Borassus-Corypha palm savannah and various grasslands (van Steenis, 1935). Fireadapted woody plants are particularly common in these ecosystems.

Altitudinally, fire follows the occurrence of the most combustible plant life forms and thus vegetation. In the montane environment, various ecosystems accumulate a certain amount of humus. For this reason, Mueller-Dombois (1981) concluded that montane forests are more prone to surface fires than tropical lowland forests. Paijmans (1976) indicated that in Papua New Guinea (and perhaps in Irian Jaya also), extensive high mountain grasslands and savannahs below the timber line are secondary in nature and of anthropogenic origin. High montane forests, swamp forests, sedge-grass swamps and grasslands experience dry periods and fire can set in, usually starting from the swamp grasslands and then spreading to the other ecosystems. Fire occurs every year but less regularly than in the lowlands (Paijmans, 1976). Because of different habitat conditions and, thus, different species composition with different degrees of combustibility, fire occurrence is usually patchy and has resulted in the formation of a mosaic of successional and subclimax vegetation. Van Steenis (1935, 1972) indicated that the occurrence of the pure Casuarina junghuhniana forest in the mountains of East Java is maintained by recurrent burning; this tree species is fire-resistant.

The spatial and temporal variations and impacts of fire in an ecosystem can be more properly assessed if information on site characteristics as well as existing and potential vegetation is established, because the variable effects of fire make any prediction difficult (Daubenmire, 1968). This is particularly important for a rational approach to land management in the tropical countries where data on ecologically based inventories of lands and vegetation are scarce (Mueller-Dombois, 1981).

Few observations on forest succession following a fire are available for tropical rain forests and particularly seasonal forest areas. When the area is relatively small and does not experience recurrent burning, re-establishment of the forest can take place, but if the area is large and especially when accompanied by recurrent burning, conversion into savannahs or grasslands results. This is usually accompanied by site degradation, such as a decrease in fertility and deterioration of physical properties of the soils. Floristic diversity is dramatically changed and its recovery is extremely slow, even in the most favourable environment of a tropical rain forest.

Small-scale experiments in a lowland dipterocarp forest and a kerangas forest show the trend of early succession in burned and unburned sites in the above forest types (Riswan and Kartawinata, 1988b, 1989, 1991). In the kerangas forest on podsolized white sand soil (Riswan and Kartawinata, 1988b), it was observed that after 1.5 years (78 weeks) in burned and unburned plots, coppicing from the burned vegetation was the main feature of the vegetation recovery, while regeneration through seedlings played an insignificant role (Figure 11.3). Species composition in both sites was very similar and this was attributed to coppicing of the original burned woody forest species. Poor development of seedlings was due to very acidic and low nutrient content of the soil. Seedlings may have developed from seed banks in the unburned site and seed-rain in the burned one.

Fire does not seem to be the determinant of the direction and the rate of the secondaryforest succession. Clear cutting followed by burning had more destructive effects than clear cutting without burning, as indicated by the fact that, after 1.5 years, 10 per cent of the burned site was still bare compared to only 2 per cent in the unburned site. The addition of nutrients in the form of ash from the burning of felled vegetation did not seem to accelerate the recolonization by seedlings or the growth rate of coppices (Riswan, 1982). Whether the disturbance was clear cutting or clear cutting followed by burning, the effects on species composition, overall growth and cover of vegetation were not substantially different. Perhaps changes occurring in the successional patterns may be attributed to the differing strategies of individual species in the two conditions. The effect of clear cutting, with or without burning, is not only to destroy the overall nutrient cycling of the complex soil-plant ecosystem but also to wash out most of the nutrient elements (stored in the forest system) through erosion and leaching processes, which are accelerated by poor vegetation recovery (Riswan, 1982).

FIGURE 11.3 Number of Species of Seedlings and Resprouts in the Experimental Burned and Unburned Plots in a Primary Kerangas Forest at Samboja, East Kalimantan

In the dipterocarp forest on red-yellow podsolic soil in the early stage of succession, seedlings played a more important role than coppices (Figure 11.4) (Riswan and Kartawinta, 1989, 1991). The number of species, percentage of cover, frequency of seedlings and coppices, and the number of primary forest species were greater in the unburned than in the burned site. The dominant species in each site differed, even though they were adjacent. The recovery in the unburned site is thought to be attributable mainly to the undisturbed seed bank in the soil, as indicated by the high number of primary forest species developed. The recovery process of soils in the burned plot was faster than that in the unburned one. In general, however, they show very fast recovery after a disturbance (Riswan, 1982).

FIGURE 11.4 Number of Species in the Experimental Plots MDF Samarinda, East Kalimantan

Later succession, 35 years after burning and abandonment of a pepper plantation, shows that floristically 70 per cent of the species were primary forest types of which only one was a dipterocarp, although the site was surrounded by primary dipterocarp forest (Riswan and Kartawinata, 1988a). By using a floristic similarity index, the stem biomass and girth measurement, it was estimated that it would take 150-500 years for the site to return to conditions similar to the original forest (Riswan, Kentworthy and Kartawinata, 1985; Riswan and Kartawinata, 1988a).

FIGURE 11.5 Changes in Number of Species of Plants and Insects after Yearly Clear Cutting and Burning

Early succession was deflected when fire took place more frequently. Repeated burning at 6-monthly intervals converted the clear-cut, lowland dipterocarp forest into an Imperata grassland within 3 years (Kartawinata et al., 1983). During that period, the species diversity decreased drastically from 201 species of flowering plants per hectare in the 6-month-old successional community in the clear-cut forest without burning, to only 23 species in the grassland (Figure 11 .5).

Mueller-Dombois ( 1981 ) stated that fire frequency and intensity are fundamental factors, whether the effects of fires are negative or positive. In view of the fact that every region has its own peculiarities, the role of fire varies between regions and between habitats within the same region. In the temperate and subtropical regions, a great deal of knowledge on fire management is available, but successful firemanagement practices should not be extrapolated to the Tropics without modification. In this respect, he further stressed that there is little useful application of fire in tropical forests.

The need for management

Editorial comment


A review of fires in South-East Asia needs to look beyond Kalimantan and Sabah. The pine forests in the Philippines may be maintained by fire. The idea of fire as a major factor in forest ecology is new, having taken hold only since 1983; formerly we believed that the rain forest would not burn, even though there was evidence of fires and of the smog that they produced, from Sumatra in particular. The question of prevention measures is important. In Indonesia, the State Ministry of Population and Environment has formed a committee to study measures of prevention and control. As of the early 1990s, there is no provision for fire control in the Indonesian Selective Felling System, nor for that matter in either the Philippine or Malaysian systems. There are, however, some guidelines for the control of fire in plantation forests, and some watchtowers have been erected in mangrove forests.

In the reforestation of Imperata cylindrica grassland, Indonesia has applied the socalled block-corridor system, where the blocks are the plantation sites and the corridors are the firebreaks of fire-resistant species, such as the Macadamia hildebrandii in Sumatra; the corridors are at least 20 metres wide. A community-development programme is a good idea, as also is that of firebreaks along logging roads; however, it is doubtful whether controlled burning along such breaks would be feasible. Wirawan's suggestions are in agreement with present ideas and practices in Indonesian forestry.

Editorial comment

In discussion, it was suggested that the heat from extensive forest fires in South-East Asia might intensity the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) circulation. Nicholls responded that, large though the heat output is, it can have only a minute positive feedback effect on a phenomenon of global scale. The energy involved in ENSO is very many times that released in Asian or any other forest fires. However, it can be predicted that events of the 1982-3 order might occur about once a century, with events close to that magnitude occurring four or five times during a century. Therefore, if human activity continues to intensify, the next major fire event will be much worse.

(introductory text...)

Global trends
South-east Asia
The future



As in most books dealing with the environment in general, this one also tends to show a bias towards the terrestrial environment. However, it is fortunate that some attention is being given to the marine environment; the marine areas of South-East Asia more than equal those of the land. This region, which is the isthmus between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, is unique in the world for having two large archipelagic states (Indonesia and the Philippines), which between them account for some 20,000 islands (Figure 12.1). But whether we are concerned with these 'multi-island' states, or the more continental countries like Malaysia and Thailand, the greater bulk of the region's people inhabit the coastal zone. Large populations on the coast necessarily have great impact on the sea, hence, the title of this chapter. There will be no attempt to differentiate between the terms 'coastal', 'inshore' and 'marine'. Since South-East Asian seas are generally referred to as marginal seas, the marine environment of the region as a whole will be the subject matter of this chapter.

Global trends

Ever since Goldberg (1976) wrote his book, The Health of the Oceans, interest in the monitoring of the global marine environment has become more acute. The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), an interagency body sponsored by eight United Nations organizations (IMO, FAO, UNESCO, WMO, WHO, IAEA, UN and UNEP), has been entrusted with a periodic review of the condition of the oceans. Its most recent report is The State of the Marine Environment (GESAMP, 19913. The author was a member of the working group that prepared the report and will attempt to abstract the more important observations in introducing and placing in perspective the marine environmental problems of South-East Asia.

The report points out that man's 'fingerprint' is found everywhere in the oceans but that conditions vary widely. In contrast to statements (by some crusaders out to save the oceans) that the oceans are dying, the report indicates that the open seas are relatively clean, although chemical contaminants are detectable virtually everywhere and sea lanes are often characterized by oil slicks and litter.

FIGURE 12.1 The Regional Seas

The picture changes at the margins of the sea because it is here that the impacts of man's activities are most pronounced. Besides the in situ population growth in coastal areas, migration from the interior to the coast continues in many places; hence, there is increasing pressure to develop coastal human settlements which necessarily leads to the destruction of natural ecosystems including beaches, wetlands and coral reefs. The next most important factor is the impact of nutrients and sewage on the coastal zone, whether these are generated locally or transported from interior watersheds,

On a positive note, there appears to be a decreasing trend in the contamination of some northern temperate areas by chlorinated hydrocarbons due to stricter controls of their use. Unfortunately. the same cannot be said for tropical and subtropical areas.

To sum up the report, it is best to quote its conclusions thus:

[A]t the end of the 1980s. the major causes of immediate concern in the marine environment on a global basis are coastal development and the attendant destruction of habitats, eutrophication, microbial contamination of seafood and beaches, fouling of the seas by plastic litter, progressive build-up of' chlorinated hydrocarbons, especially in the tropics and the subtropics, and accumulation of tar on beaches. However, concerns may differ from region to region, reflecting local situations and priorities. Furthermore, throughout the world, public perception may still accord greater importance to other contaminants such as radionuclides, trace elements and oil. These were highlighted in the 1982 GESAMP Review and are considered again in the present report, but we now regard them as being of lesser concern.

While no areas of the ocean and none of its principal resources appear to be irrevocably damaged, and most are still unpolluted, while there are encouraging signs that in some areas marine contamination is decreasing, we are concerned that too little is being done to correct or anticipate situations that call for action. that not enough consideration is being given to the consequences for the oceans of coastal development, and that activities on land continue with little regard to their effects in coastal waters. We fear. especially in view of the continuing growth of human populations, that the marine environment could deteriorate significantly in the next decade unless strong, co-ordinated national and international action is taken now. At the national level in particular, the concerted application of measures to reduce wastes and to conserve raw materials will be essential. The efforts will be great and costs high, but nothing less will ensure the continued health of the sea and the maintenance of its resources.

The report is not entirely silent on the current 'buzz' words in ecology or environmental protection. It takes cognizance of global climatic change, the possible sea-level rise that may result from global warming due to increases in greenhouse gases, and the potential impact of the reduction of stratospheric Ozone. Since these could not be fully assessed by the working group charged with the preparation of the report, they were not addressed in any detail but merely flagged as additional issues that will need further treatment elsewhere.

South-east Asia

As a parallel activity to the GESAMP global review, regional assessments were made. Gomez et al. (1990) prepared a report which covers the seas bordering the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Hong Kong. The working group was composed of representatives of each country concerned. Another useful reference on the marine environment of the region appeared in 1988. The journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Ambio, published a special issue (Volume 17, Number 3) on the East Asian seas. An overview of the region's environmental problems (E. D. Gomez, 1988) was followed by articles on specific topics by different authors.

As mentioned above, the problems of the marine environment are more pronounced in marginal seas than in the open ocean. The seas of South-East Asia may be characterized as marginal. In the early 1990s, the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos are inhabited by 250 million people, most of whom live in the coastal zone. The populations of the other ASEAN countries contribute another one-third of this number, in addition to those of the Indo-Chinese peninsula. The total population of South-East Asia in 1990 was placed at 440.8 million (WRI, 1990).

With population pressure exerting itself heavily in the coastal areas, there is great concern about habitat destruction. Among the most heavily affected are mangrove forests, the largest of which are in Indonesia. Big coastal areas in the more populous islands have been converted into fish and prawn ponds, with only the narrowest of mangrove strips remaining on the seaward side. Of about 2.5 million hectares of mangroves, some 700000 hectares were converted to various uses between 1969 and 1979. It is feared that an equivalent area will be destroyed before the end of the twentieth century. Malaysia ranks second in total mangrove area. Fortunately, of the more than 0.5 million hectares of mangrove coastline, perhaps less than 20 per cent have been converted to other land uses. The situation in the Philippines has been less positive. Of some 400000 hectares, only about 25 per cent remain. In the other countries, the position is not as bad. but all are threatened.

The coral reefs of South-East Asia are also under attack, although for a different reason. There is limited direct use of reefs except locally for mining lime. It is in the process of extracting fish and other marine products that the coral reef:s themselves are often negatively impacted. Illegal methods such as dynamite fishing have become widespread in the region. Overfishing of reefs has begun in many areas, whether it be for fish, invertebrates or seaweeds. A more serious threat in many regions, and particularly in the Philippines, is siltation resulting from the erosion of coastal areas due to deforestation and poor land-development practices. The Philippines provides one example of what can happen to coral reefs. E. D. Gomez (1989) presented a summary of their condition. Fully 70 per cent are in a poor-to-fair condition with less than 50 per cent live coral cover. The situation in the other countries is probably not much better.

The over-exploitation of fish stocks is becoming more evident. Any review of the fisheries of the region will show the drastic drop of stocks in the Gulf of Thailand in the 1960s. Later studies in the Philippines have revealed that demersal stocks and those of small pelagics have begun to decline. If long-term monitoring were undertaken, the trends could be documented in the various countries.

An equally severe problem, because of the sheer numbers of people in the coastal zone, is the organic pollution entering the sea. Most of this pollution is in the form of sewage, much of which is discharged untreated into rivers and coastal water bodies. To this is added the litter and other solid wastes that are so characteristic of areas near populated parts of the region, with the possible exception of Singapore. The amount of organic load in the coastal waters is becoming heavier. In some estuaries and embayments, eutrophication is increasingly evident as well as microbial contamination. More alarming, however, is the growing frequency of red tides, or paralytic shellfish poisoning in the region. The few occurrences in the mid-1970s became more frequent in the following decade; in the Philippines, eight cases were reported (Corrales and Gomez, 1990). The start of the 1990s is witnessing a further escalation of this trend.

In spite of the exploitation of oil and the large volume of oil shipping passing through the various straits of South-East Asia, pollution has not been out of proportion. The proceedings of a workshop held in Bali provides a review of the oil pollution in the region (Yap, de la Paz and McManus, 1988). Gomez et al. ( 1990) also contains a section on oil.

This review would not be complete without touching on mining activities affecting the marine environment. In addition to oil (2 million barrels per day) and gas (5 billion cubic feet per day), much of which is from offshore wells, there are tin-dredging operations that have caused problems in coastal areas, particularly in Thailand. In a few celebrated cases in the Philippines, the problem of disposing of copper-mine tailings into coastal waters has become prominent. Fortunately, these are not widespread.

Manila Bay

A few of the environmental problems of the Philippine marine waters and coastal ecosystems have already been mentioned in general terms. It would be well to illustrate on a finer scale some of the problems related to coastal waters adjacent to large population centres. For this purpose, Manila Bay can be used, as it may in some ways be compared with the Upper Gulf of Thailand, where the Chao Phraya River debouches after passing through Bangkok, and also with Jakarta Bay in northern Java.

Manila Bay is a semi-enclosed body of water comparable in size to the Upper Gulf of Thailand but with a narrow sill that connects it to the South China Sea. While several rivers empty into the bay, the two most prominent are the Pampanga River to the north, which drains a large agricultural region, and the Pasig River to the east, which, in addition to agricultural runoff, carries with it industrial and municipal effluents from the Metro Manila area. The more significant input of pollutants into the bay comes from the large metropolis, whose population is now in the order of eight million. Only a small fraction of the households in the greater Manila area are sewered.

Studies on marine pollution in the Philippines were reviewed by Deocadiz ( 1990), who indicated that Manila Bay is contaminated with pesticides, industrial wastes and oil, in addition to domestic wastes. While earlier studies tended to show rather high values of heavy metals, which may have been artefacts of the analytical methods used, later studies (for example, Soria and Theede, 1990) indicate only a mild contamination of Manila Bay by heavy metals. In sharp contrast, Acorda ( 1990) indicated that bacteriological pollution has been on the increase, to the extent that the waters of eastern Manila Bay have been declared unsafe for bathing. This bacteriological pollution is no doubt due to the high input of raw sewage into the bay. It is suspected that the organic pollution in the bay has contributed to the increasing frequency of red tides as mentioned earlier.

The future

The future of the marine environment of the region looks like a mosaic, with some clear (clean?) areas and some shaded (contaminated?) areas. Whether the mosaic will be a beautiful or unattractive one will depend on many factors.

The population issue comes to mind first. Concepcion (Chapter 2) has given a prognosis of what to expect in the region, based on different assumptions. A burgeoning population will necessarily have an adverse impact on the coastal zone and the marine areas beyond; hence, strong measures to combat marine pollution must be taken by those countries that have population problems. Moreover, unless the principle of 'polluter pays' is taken to heart, increases in marine pollution in the region will continue. While this policy is already in place in one or two countries, the same cannot be said for the rest.

Underpinning the fate of the coastal zone is the status of management. The new vogue in the region is coastal zone management, in part catalysed by the ASEAN/US Coastal Resources Management Project, but there have been national and bilateral initiatives in this area. Unless plans are put in place and implemented vigorously, the destruction of critical marine habitats, the incidences of pollution-induced health problems, and the further decline of fisheries may continue, not to mention the loss of amenity for recreation and tourism. It should be noted that tourism is a major incomegenerating activity of the region.

But what does it take to control marine pollution? Basically two things: political will and substantial resources. These two factors go hand in hand and one cannot work without the other. Political will can only be provided by the people of the region. As for resources, some are available within the region itself, particularly in the more affluent countries like Brunei and Singapore and, to a more limited extent, in some of the other countries. Presently, the region is also fortunate in that there is some extra-regional funding that may be tapped, since most of the countries are considered developing countries and therefore eligible for both multilateral and bilateral aid. As an example, the 'Green Fund' (properly called the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a World Bank/ UNDP/UNEP programme) may be tapped in the short term. Should this fund be successful during its first 3-year experimental phase, it is hoped that it will be enlarged and extended. However, the relevant Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, the principal document arising from the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UN, 1992) places most of the burden for action on the coastal states themselves, and on their co-operation. The largest part of the international financial contribution envisaged is related to 'addressing critical uncertainties for the management of the marine environment and climate change'(paras. 17.97-17.115).

That it is possible to clean up the environment is shown in the case of Singapore (Kuan, 1988). In the mid-1960s, the environment of Singapore was no better than that of its neighbours, with polluted rivers and a poor solid-waste disposal system. Industrialization in the early years after independence contributed to air pollution. But the government soon realized the need to clean up the atmosphere, so emissions from factories were regulated and air contaminants from vehicles reduced.

In this discussion, the topic of interest is the sewerage programme and solid-waste disposal. As late as the early 1970s, less than 50 per cent of Singapore's population was served by sewers, but as of five years ago, 95 per cent of the population was served by modern sanitation facilities. It is reported that the figure is now virtually 100 per cent. This effort, and the refuse-collection system executed by both the government and private waste-collection companies, has made possible the clean-up of Singapore's waterways.

The government's efforts at environmental enhancement can be best exemplified by the clean-up of the Singapore River in the heart of the city. In 1977, it was decided to revive this river from a dead, smelly waterway to a river with aquatic life. The former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, gave the challenge to the Ministry of Environment. The task involved relocation of people, activities and buildings. After 10 years, Singapore could be proud of its river again, as virtually all the pollution sources had been curbed or removed, and fish were again swimming in its waters.

While it is true that Singapore is atypical of the countries in South-East Asia by virtue of its small size and wealth, it could in some ways serve as a model for emulation. If the neighbouring countries decide for themselves to begin to clean up some of their polluted cities, it can be done step by step, although over a longer time frame. Perhaps a start can be made not with the primate cities, but the secondary metropolitan centres. The experiences gained can later be applied to the capitals. However, a start should be made somewhere if the trend towards environmental degradation is to be reversed. Otherwise, all the political declarations about environmental protection and enhancement will be nothing but empty platitudes.

(introductory text...)

Aspects of the physical setting
National and international responses
Editorial comment


E. D. GOMEZ has given an excellent review of the state of coastal, inshore and marine environmental problems in South-East Asia. Additional perspectives in reviewing the problems in the region are offered here. The first of these concerns the physical setting of the region.

Aspects of the physical setting

The waters and islands between Asia and Australia, and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, form one geographic unit. The region consists of highly fragmented land, interspersed among wide stretches of sea, and has an extremely long coastline. Physically, the region is divided into the continental part of mainland Asia, which consists of Myanmar, Thailand and the Indo-Chinese states of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; and the rest of the region, regarded as the archipelago of South-East Asia, includes Peninsular Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines (Chia and MacAndrews, 1 979).

In oceanographic terms, the waters are part of the Pacific Ocean, and are separated from the Indian Ocean by the islands of Sumatra, Java and the Lesser Sunda (Nusa Tenggara). Including the Andaman Sea, Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait, South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Java Sea, Flores Sea, Banda Sea, Arafura Sea, Timor Sea, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea and the Philippine Sea, the whole body of water covers 8.94 million square kilometres, representing about 2.5 per cent of the world's ocean surface (Soegiarto, 1978, 1985).

Located between the Asian and Australian continents, the South-East Asian region is strongly influenced by monsoons. The waters are thus ideal for studying the effects of the monsoon, which governs both water circulation and the seasonal distribution of its physical, chemical and biological properties. The north-west monsoon in South-East Asia lasts from December to March and the south-east, from July to September. The rest of the year represents the transition from north-west to south-east and vice versa. Variation in the atmospheric circulation strongly governs the corresponding water circulation. Because of the rather high constancy of the monsoons and the regularity of their timing, the ocean currents show similar characteristics from one year to the next. Just as the monsoons change direction twice a year and are reversed at the time of their strongest development, the oceanic circulation is also reversed over large areas.

This complete reversal is typical of the circulation in these waters (Soegiarto, 1978; Wyrtki, 1961).

Storms and typhoons are observed only over the northern parts of the South China Sea, the Philippines, the Andaman Sea and north of Australia. The presence of typhoons has a marked influence on the state of the seas, increasing the wave and swell conditions and changing their direction. Both the state of the sea, and the strength and general patterns of currents, will influence the potential for and the direction of pollution dispersal in the region.

The marine and coastal areas of the region are among the world's most productive. Their warm, humid tropical climate and high rainfall allow extensive coral reefs and dense mangrove ecosystems to flourish along the coastline. Because of economic benefits that can be derived from these rich and diverse ecosystems, the coastal zones of South-East Asia are densely populated. Over 7(1 per cent of the population of the region lives in the coastal areas, resulting in a rather high level of exploitation of natural resources and consequent degradation of the environment. Indeed, population pressure associated with high economic activity has caused large-scale destruction and serious degradation of the coastal and marine environment. Increasing pollution, both land- and marine-based, compounds the problems of the South-East Asian region.

National and international responses

The second perspective offered here is on how the countries of South-East Asia have responded to coastal, inshore and marine environmental problems. All countries in this region. in particular the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), have committed more and more of their resources to prevent and mitigate environmental degradation and coastal and marine pollution. The measures taken include pollution control, environmental-impact studies. national and regional legislation to prevent and respond to potential oil spills, and participation in various international conventions on the protection of coastal and marine environments.

The new UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) requires coastal states to protect and preserve their coastal and marine environments, and to co-operate directly or through international organizations. An Action Plan for the Conservation of Nature in the ASEAN region has recently been formulated by the International Union on Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The priorities set by this plan (Soegiarto, 1990) are (i) establishment of a network of natural reserves in the ASEAN region; (ii) enforcement of measures to protect endangered species; (iii) establishment of mechanisms for information exchange on research and management; and (iv) establishment of regional training programmes on conservation management.

The necessity of maintaining essential ecological processes and life-support systems to preserve genetic diversity, and also that of ensuring the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems, has been emphasized. A network of nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries has been regarded as one of the most effective ways to conserve ecosystems and the genetic resources they contain.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has supported a number of actions related to coastal and marine environments in South-East Asia; for example, some activities under the Regional Programme on East Asian Seas are concentrated in the ASEAN region. The UNEP implementing counterparts in ASEAN are COBSEA (Coordinating Body of South East Asian Seas) and AEGE (ASEAN Expert Group on Environment), which has since been elevated to become ASOEN (ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment).

In 1988, in co-operation with COBSEA and AEGE, the UNEP formulated ASEP III (ASEAN Environment Programme III), a 5-year plan for 1988-92 and the continuation and extension of ASEP I (1978-82) and ASEP II (1983-7). It has been officially endorsed by the European Cooperation in Scientific and Technical Research (COST), the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) and the Third ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment.

Six areas have been given high priority in ASEP III. These are environmental management, nature conservation and terrestrial ecosystems, industry and environment, marine environment, urban environment, and environmental education, training and information. With the catalytic role of UNEP, ASEAN has adopted the Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas.

Editorial comment

The problem of losses to the mangrove belt along regional coasts was a principal topic of discussion. 'Green belts' exist in some countries, with regulations going back to the 1970s, but they are hard to enforce when there are such profits to be made from aquaculture of prawns and other seafood, encouraging replacement of all but the outer fringe of the mangroves with fish ponds. It was, however, suggested that the management of sedimentation in shallow seas might be used to enlarge and extend the mangrove belt. With heavy inland erosion, there is a large sediment load brought down by the rivers, leading to rapid coastal outgrowth where the sea is shallow for some distance offshore. Research into the management of coastal sedimentation could be rewarding.

A note of warning was raised concerning the possible effects of global warming on the ocean currents. Although no modelling results yet exist, it is known that ocean currents might change direction and strength in only decades; this potential threat is, therefore, a more immediate hazard than the gradual rise of the sea level.


THE last three substantive chapters, gathered together in this Part IV, also stem from papers which were given extended periods for presentation and discussion. They concern some of the problems of places and people, rather than issues. The three chapters are strongly contrasted in both content and approach, though all address questions of major importance: the vulnerability of places, the vulnerable people of the region, especially the tribal people, and the problems of the cities and their environmental management. Because of the breadth of each topic-which could not be captured in the space and time available in Yogyakarta-an extended editorial introduction is provided for this part of the book.

In their linked, but very different, papers, Morgan and Jefferson Fox seek to bring together a good deal of material from the preceding chapters focused on the themes of 'hazardousness of place' and the difficulties of managing common resources in a period of rapid change. Their papers, and Soemarwoto's important commentary, constitute the equivalent of almost three chapters, collectively offering a comprehensive review of diverse issues which come together around a common theme.

Morgan provides an overview of many of the natural hazards affecting the South-East Asian region, with an emphasis on the more extreme hazards of typhoons, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and then goes on to discuss hazards of directly human origin, especially those related to inshore and coastal pollution, discussed earlier by E. D. Gomez (Chapter 12). This overview leads into a discussion of hazard management and response, drawing on a wide literature, the main empirical domain of which is in the developed countries. It raises the important question of the relative roles of local and national management of hazard avoidance and response, which thus links to Jefferson Fox's review of the breakdown of local-management systems for the use of commonproperty resources in the forests and fisheries.

Fox raises questions which lead indirectly to the following Chapter 14, linking the vulnerability of place with that of people. He recognizes the near-impossibility of sustaining traditional rules governing access to common resources under conditions of commercialization, technological change, and state control, which supports the privatization of resource use for the benefit of a much larger than local community. He argues, however, that joint national/ local management is, in the long run, the only way to secure sustainability.

In an extended comment, Soemarwoto calls attention to several other forms of natural and human-made hazards to life and welfare in the region, and also to future hazards arising from changes in the global environment. He offers examples of adaptation to change in management of both resources and certain hazards, but notes the severe pressures placed on these adaptations.

There is a common conclusion, and it echoes that of Hardjono: top-down approaches have severe limitations, while bottom-up approaches are unable to cope with the rate of demographic, social, economic and natural change. There is a major need for cooperation between the authorities and the people in developing truly flexible adaptive responses. There is also a most serious need for a better flow of information to the people, placing more trust in their judgement. Without these changes, none of the behavioural responses to hazard discussed by Morgan can have much relevance, nor can sustainable solutions be found to the disastrous breakdowns of local management and control discussed by Fox.

The stage is thus set for the distinctive Chapter 14 by Lian, himself a member of the Kenyah people who are divided between Sarawak and Kalimantan in Borneo. Lian, from far inland Sarawak, is the first of his people to study to doctorate level. His topic is the 'threatened peoples' of the region. After a wide introductory discussion, he concentrates on the tribal people, among a large group who include many rural and urban poor, and many of those whose livelihood is threatened by hazards, by the consequences of global environmental change and by resource degradation. Although he regards the tribal people as marginalized within the wider society, and is critical of the government agencies who seek to manage their 'development', his approach to the problems of the tribal people is unusual in the modern literature. Lian stresses their adaptability, and he will have no part of the widespread view that they are desperately clinging on to an ancient lifestyle in the face of a rapacious exploitation-one that threatens their very existence. Moreover, he does not regard traditional resource-management systems, dependent on low population density and lack of commercialization for success, as sustainable under modern conditions. His conclusion closely parallels that in Chapter 13: the way forward is to involve the tribal people in their own development, so as to achieve a dynamic 'marriage' of old and new.

Lian also draws attention to the plight of many urban squatters and to the unsanitary conditions in which they live. This theme is further stressed by Sham in Chapter 15 where, in dealing with urban environmental issues, he notes that the lack of services to the large squatter populations, together with their common location close to the rivers and channels, is a major cause of the severe pollution of urban waterways in almost all regional cities. The 'hazardousness of place' (Chapter 13) has particular meaning in the low-lying parts of the cities, both from the more frequent experience of flood, as well as the severe health hazard created by urban and industrial wastes.

Although urban problems are referred to in several earlier chapters, Chapter 15 is the only one in this book specifically concerned with the environmental problems of the urban areas which now hold between one-quarter and one-third of the whole regional population. There is a reason for this unbalanced treatment. The United Nations University has a major programme on the 'Implications of Demographic Change and Urbanization', of which the initial thrust has been on 'The Asian-Pacific Urban System: Towards the 21st Century'. With a series of meetings on these issues already in train at the time of the Yogyakarta meeting, it was decided to include only a single paper that was specifically on urban problems.

Sham, the author of Chapter 15, is a climatologist specializing in the problems of the urban atmosphere, on which he has published extensively, mainly from his work around Kuala Lumpur. A selection of his many papers is gathered together in Sham ( 1987); with the support of the UNESCO regional office, he has edited a series of monographs on the environmental problems of the Malaysian Klang Valley conurbation, using the ecosystem approach to integration which he advocates in this chapter. He deals with a much wider range of urban environmental problems than those of the atmosphere alone, but they are linked together by the problem of disposal of waste products on the land, in the waters and in the atmosphere. The low-energy environment of the Tropics, especially in the atmosphere, reduces the threshold at which the concentration of pollutants gives rise to serious problems.

More specifically than other authors, however, Sham goes on to discuss in detail the institutional and practical problems of management. Using the case of Malaysia, he reviews the legislation enacted to protect the environment since independence, and especially since the early 1970s. The problem, as noted more briefly in Chapter 1, is not a lack of legislation, but a lack of enforcement. The utility of modern provision for environmental impact assessment is low without the resources, the political will or the public awareness and participation required to make such procedures effective. There is a sharp contrast between the large staffs employed to manage state-owned forest land-though much more for production than for conservation-mentioned by Jefferson Fox, and the very small amount of resources devoted to the wider issues of environmental amelioration.

The global situation is not only as described by the Brundtland report (World Commission, 1987: 10), that 'the mandates of ministries of industry include production targets, while the accompanying pollution is left to ministries of environment'. The environmental ministries and departments are quite insufficiently staffed and have too few powers or support to do a great deal about the 'accompanying pollution' and damage. The result-as Sham points out for the cities, and other authors have shown for the rural and forest areas and the seas-is that notwithstanding some improvements, the general state of the environment is still deteriorating and, with it, the quality of life for many people. Sham's proposal for a co-ordinated, systematic approach using an ecosystem framework has wide applicability, but more than this is also required. These points lead on directly to the conclusions and recommendations set out in Part V.

13. Threatened places


SOUTH-EAST ASIA, like other regions of the world, suffers from threats to its environment. These threats include those arising from natural hazards, global climatic change, rapid economic development and population growth, and those that derive from the style of development being pursued almost universally. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, Working Group 2, 1990) outlines probable effects on agriculture, forestry, terrestrial ecosystems, hydrology, human settlements and oceans. In South-East Asia, these effects may include declines in agricultural production, increased forest destruction from wildfires, changes in temperature and precipitation regimes, hydrometeorological changes, inundation of low-lying coastal cities, changes in the patterns of vector-borne and viral diseases and sea-level rise. But while scientists are certain that emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Henderson-Sellers (Chapter 6) argues that the impact of this change on South-East Asia is, at best, poorly understood.

Any effects of climatic change must be viewed against a background of transformations which are already occurring and which will continue as a result of other factors. Natural elements include those of the long term that are driven by solar and tectonic factors; and those of short-to-medium term, driven by ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns.

Another ongoing factor in environmental management is population growth. World population is expected to be more than 10 billion by the middle of the twenty-first century; this growth will be unevenly distributed on a regional basis and will have an impact on already vulnerable areas. By the first decade of that century, South-East Asia is likely to have some 160 million more people, an increase of 36 per cent from 1990 estimates. The countries with the greatest projected growth are Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar (Concepcion, Chapter 2). By the year 2000, three of the major metropolises of the region-Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok-will have reached 10 million people (Jones, Chapter 3).

Throughout the ASEAN countries, the growth of manufacturing production exceeded that of either services or agriculture over the 1965-80 period. Singapore emphasized the production of chemicals, steel products, and machinery and equipment. In Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, the focus of industrial deepening was on iron and steel and basic chemical industries (Ariff and Hill, 1985, cited by Jones, Chapter 3). This growth has had a profound effect on the environment of the rural hinterland around major cities.

The clearing of forests for new agricultural production, together with more intensive use of existing agricultural land, will contribute to land degradation and increased demands for water resources (Allen, Chapter 10). The Green Revolution has helped rice production in the region to grow from 53.49 million tonnes in 1970 to 102.48 million tonnes in 1987. Problems associated with this growth, however, include inefficient use of water and chemical fertilizers, indiscriminate use of wide-spectrum insecticides, unstable farming systems and increased inequity among rice farmers (Chang, Chapter 9).

Against this background of the many factors that 'threaten places' in South-East Asia, the following linked papers discuss two types of threats. Morgan deals with threats that arise from both human activities and natural hazards, such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. South-East Asia, a region of high seismicity and volcanic activity and in the path of tropical storms, ranks as one of the world's most hazardous areas. Natural hazards cannot be avoided, but their effects can be reduced by various individual and community responses. These include warning systems, seawalls and breakwaters, evacuation of threatened areas, insurance programmes and land-use zoning. Morgan describes natural hazards found in the region and the methods for reducing their impact.

Jefferson Fox develops the argument, made by Brookfield (Chapter 1 ), that the rise of state control of forest and marine resources has often been at the expense of indigenous management systems. The resulting conflict between state resource-tnanagement policies and local resource-use systems, is a major cause of degradation and mismanagement. Fox briefly reviews the evolution of indigenous and state resourcemanagement systems in the region, and the growth of conflicts between local communities and governments bureaucracies. Jurisdictional conflicts have limited the ability of both the state and the community to effectively control forest and coastal resources. Fox suggests that one of the few solutions to this problem is to transfer the management of and responsibility for local resources to community groups.

(introductory text...)

Nature's threats
Human threats
Natural hazards and their management



THE last three substantive chapters, gathered together in this Part IV, also stem from papers which were given extended periods for presentation and discussion. They concern some of the problems of places and people, rather than issues. The three chapters are strongly contrasted in both content and approach, though all address questions of major importance: the vulnerability of places, the vulnerable people of the region, especially the tribal people, and the problems of the cities and their environmental management. Because of the breadth of each topic-which could not be captured in the space and time available in Yogyakarta-an extended editorial introduction is provided for this part of the book.

In their linked, but very different, papers, Morgan and Jefferson Fox seek to bring together a good deal of material from the preceding chapters focused on the themes of 'hazardousness of place' and the difficulties of managing common resources in a period of rapid change. Their papers, and Soemarwoto's important commentary, constitute the equivalent of almost three chapters, collectively offering a comprehensive review of diverse issues which come together around a common theme.

Morgan provides an overview of many of the natural hazards affecting the South-East Asian region, with an emphasis on the more extreme hazards of typhoons, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and then goes on to discuss hazards of directly human origin, especially those related to inshore and coastal pollution, discussed earlier by E. D. Gomez (Chapter 12). This overview leads into a discussion of hazard management and response, drawing on a wide literature, the main empirical domain of which is in the developed countries. It raises the important question of the relative roles of local and national management of hazard avoidance and response, which thus links to Jefferson Fox's review of the breakdown of local-management systems for the use of commonproperty resources in the forests and fisheries.

Fox raises questions which lead indirectly to the following Chapter 14, linking the vulnerability of place with that of people. He recognizes the near-impossibility of sustaining traditional rules governing access to common resources under conditions of commercialization, technological change, and state control, which supports the privatization of resource use for the benefit of a much larger than local community. He argues, however, that joint national/ local management is, in the long run, the only way to secure sustainability.

In an extended comment, Soemarwoto calls attention to several other forms of natural and human-made hazards to life and welfare in the region, and also to future hazards arising from changes in the global environment. He offers examples of adaptation to change in management of both resources and certain hazards, but notes the severe pressures placed on these adaptations.

There is a common conclusion, and it echoes that of Hardjono: top-down approaches have severe limitations, while bottom-up approaches are unable to cope with the rate of demographic, social, economic and natural change. There is a major need for cooperation between the authorities and the people in developing truly flexible adaptive responses. There is also a most serious need for a better flow of information to the people, placing more trust in their judgement. Without these changes, none of the behavioural responses to hazard discussed by Morgan can have much relevance, nor can sustainable solutions be found to the disastrous breakdowns of local management and control discussed by Fox.

The stage is thus set for the distinctive Chapter 14 by Lian, himself a member of the Kenyah people who are divided between Sarawak and Kalimantan in Borneo. Lian, from far inland Sarawak, is the first of his people to study to doctorate level. His topic is the 'threatened peoples' of the region. After a wide introductory discussion, he concentrates on the tribal people, among a large group who include many rural and urban poor, and many of those whose livelihood is threatened by hazards, by the consequences of global environmental change and by resource degradation. Although he regards the tribal people as marginalized within the wider society, and is critical of the government agencies who seek to manage their 'development', his approach to the problems of the tribal people is unusual in the modern literature. Lian stresses their adaptability, and he will have no part of the widespread view that they are desperately clinging on to an ancient lifestyle in the face of a rapacious exploitation-one that threatens their very existence. Moreover, he does not regard traditional resource-management systems, dependent on low population density and lack of commercialization for success, as sustainable under modern conditions. His conclusion closely parallels that in Chapter 13: the way forward is to involve the tribal people in their own development, so as to achieve a dynamic 'marriage' of old and new.

Lian also draws attention to the plight of many urban squatters and to the unsanitary conditions in which they live. This theme is further stressed by Sham in Chapter 15 where, in dealing with urban environmental issues, he notes that the lack of services to the large squatter populations, together with their common location close to the rivers and channels, is a major cause of the severe pollution of urban waterways in almost all regional cities. The 'hazardousness of place' (Chapter 13) has particular meaning in the low-lying parts of the cities, both from the more frequent experience of flood, as well as the severe health hazard created by urban and industrial wastes.

Although urban problems are referred to in several earlier chapters, Chapter 15 is the only one in this book specifically concerned with the environmental problems of the urban areas which now hold between one-quarter and one-third of the whole regional population. There is a reason for this unbalanced treatment. The United Nations University has a major programme on the 'Implications of Demographic Change and Urbanization', of which the initial thrust has been on 'The Asian-Pacific Urban System: Towards the 21st Century'. With a series of meetings on these issues already in train at the time of the Yogyakarta meeting, it was decided to include only a single paper that was specifically on urban problems.

Sham, the author of Chapter 15, is a climatologist specializing in the problems of the urban atmosphere, on which he has published extensively, mainly from his work around Kuala Lumpur. A selection of his many papers is gathered together in Sham ( 1987); with the support of the UNESCO regional office, he has edited a series of monographs on the environmental problems of the Malaysian Klang Valley conurbation, using the ecosystem approach to integration which he advocates in this chapter. He deals with a much wider range of urban environmental problems than those of the atmosphere alone, but they are linked together by the problem of disposal of waste products on the land, in the waters and in the atmosphere. The low-energy environment of the Tropics, especially in the atmosphere, reduces the threshold at which the concentration of pollutants gives rise to serious problems.

More specifically than other authors, however, Sham goes on to discuss in detail the institutional and practical problems of management. Using the case of Malaysia, he reviews the legislation enacted to protect the environment since independence, and especially since the early 1970s. The problem, as noted more briefly in Chapter 1, is not a lack of legislation, but a lack of enforcement. The utility of modern provision for environmental impact assessment is low without the resources, the political will or the public awareness and participation required to make such procedures effective. There is a sharp contrast between the large staffs employed to manage state-owned forest land-though much more for production than for conservation-mentioned by Jefferson Fox, and the very small amount of resources devoted to the wider issues of environmental amelioration.

The global situation is not only as described by the Brundtland report (World Commission, 1987: 10), that 'the mandates of ministries of industry include production targets, while the accompanying pollution is left to ministries of environment'. The environmental ministries and departments are quite insufficiently staffed and have too few powers or support to do a great deal about the 'accompanying pollution' and damage. The result-as Sham points out for the cities, and other authors have shown for the rural and forest areas and the seas-is that notwithstanding some improvements, the general state of the environment is still deteriorating and, with it, the quality of life for many people. Sham's proposal for a co-ordinated, systematic approach using an ecosystem framework has wide applicability, but more than this is also required. These points lead on directly to the conclusions and recommendations set out in Part V.

Nature's threats

Threats to human life, property and welfare due to so-called natural causes are usually referred to as natural hazards, although, as will be discussed subsequently, they are technically due to a combination of a natural event, such as an earthquake, and deliberate human habitation of an at-risk area.

Figure 13.1 shows four principal threats of nature in the South-East Asian region: typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis (Morgan and Valencia, 1983). Typhoons are of meteorological origin, while the last three are geophysical. The Equator is a general geographical divide between the domains of meteorological and geophysical threats, with typhoons usually threatening only north of the Equator, while the geophysical hazards are more prevalent to the south. The main exceptions to this simple division are Taiwan and the Philippines, particularly the island of Luzon, which are greatly or even extremely threatened by earthquakes, as well as by typhoons.


Intense tropical cyclonic storms are called typhoons in the western Pacific; in the Indian Ocean, including the Andaman Sea, they are cyclones, while in the eastern Pacific, they are hurricanes. Typhoons have maximum wind velocities of 75 miles per hour or greater. Lesser tropical cyclonic storms are called tropical depressions or tropical storms. Typhoons are the most destructive and frequent of the natural hazards affecting the coastal areas of South-East Asia. They create immense damage with high winds, violent seas, storm surges and torrential rains. Thus, they are hazardous to ships at sea, as well as coastal and inland areas. An average of 8.9 typhoons occur in the South China Sea each year, mainly between July and November. The monthly frequency ranges from less than 0.1 in March-April to 1.7 and 1.6 in July and September, respectively.

FIGURE 13.1 Principal Threats of Nature in the South-East Asian Region

Typhoon tracks shown on Figure 13.1 were calculated from data collected over a 20year period (1949-69). The width of individual track lines is proportional to the chance that a mariner will encounter a typhoon in the South China Sea while on a passage from the Singapore Strait to the Formosa Strait. Storms in coastal regions, particularly tropical cyclones, are a great risk for many communities. 'The numbers and density of people exposed to these storms, notably in the Bay of Bengal, is exceeded only an the shores of the East and South China Seas' (emphasis added) (Hewitt, 1983a: 186).

In the Andaman Sea, there is a 25 per cent chance of at least one tropical cyclonic storm occurring during May, the month of maximum activity. Since the May storm activity includes tropical storms, tropical depressions and Indian Ocean cyclones, and the incidence of actual cyclones is not particularly high, no tracks were calculated for this area. Nevertheless, the cyclone (typhoon) hazard must also be considered here. Most typhoons originate in the western Pacific Ocean, north of the Equator, before moving west and north-west into the South China Sea. However, some typhoons are spawned in the South China Sea itself. Tracks show that the Philippines is by far the most susceptible in South-East Asia, followed by mainland China and northern Vietnam. The Equatorial regions are almost immune from the typhoon hazard, though one or two such storms are historically indicated in the southern part of the South China Sea. The eastern part of Papua New Guinea is also subject to rare typhoons.

Volcanic Eruptions

There are both undersea and terrestrial volcanoes in South-East Asia, and all those currently believed to be active are shown in Figure 13.1. In the case of submarine volcanoes particularly, the classification of the degree of activity is difficult. Dormant volcanoes must also be considered as natural threats, since it is impossible to be certain they will not subsequently become active. This fact was dramatically demonstrated by the 1991 eruption of the long-dormant Mount Pinatubo in Luzon, Philippines. The region is probably the most volcanic of any region of comparable size on earth. Three areas are particularly active: the Indonesian island arc extending from Sumatra through Ceram: the western Pacific Ocean from New Guinea through the Philippine archipelago and Taiwan: and a region of submarine volcanism in the South China Sea off the southern coast of Vietnam.

The more violent terrestrial eruptions cause extensive ash falls, which endanger human populations. In 1818, the eruption of Gunung Tambora killed 92,000 people, and the explosive eruption of the volcanic island of Krakatau in 1883 caused world-wide effects. Incandescent ash, gas, lava flows and floods associated with volcanic activity have killed people in the near vicinity of erupting volcanoes, while ash falls have harmed people and property at greater distances. The eruption of Gunung Merapi in Java in late 1930 killed 1,350 people in the surrounding area. Following the eruption of Gunung Kelud in Central Java in 1587, 10,000 people were reported killed by mud flows, floods and ash falls. There were particularly destructive volcanic eruptions in 1912 and 1919 with thousands of lives lost. It was only because of early warning that the death toll from Mount Pinatubo's eruption in 1991 was small.


South-East Asia is characterized by high seismicity, with most earthquake activity concentrated along the Indonesian island arc and in a portion of the Circum-Pacific seismic belt extending from Taiwan through New Guinea. The Philippines is one of the most seismic island areas in the world, with about 5 per cent of the earthquakes measuring 6.0 or greater on the Richter scale occurring there. Since the Philippines occupies only about 0.1 per cent of the earth's area, the degree of seismicity is about 50 times greater than normal.

Earthquake activity is unevenly distributed throughout South-East Asia; Australia, the island of Borneo, the Sunda Shelf, most of the South China Sea, and the South-East Asian portion of the Asian continent, except Myanmar and northern Thailand, are for the most part aseismic. Figure 13.1 shows general areas of earthquake activity, both on land and underwater. Individual epicentres are not shown, but general areas are categorized according to risk: slight, moderate, great, extreme, and areas where earthquakes have been felt at sea. The last category is important, because undersea earthquakes of high magnitude sometimes generate tsunamis.


Impelled waves occasionally associated with underwater volcanic activity, but more frequently with strong undersea earthquakes, are properly called tsunamis. The term 'tidal wave' is often used synonymously, but it is a less preferable name for the phenomenon, since tsunamis have no relationship to tides. Coasts that have experienced these, sometimes destructive, waves are marked in Figure 13.1. During the 1900 65 period, there were 78 reported events. Despite the high frequency of tsunamis on SouthEast Asian coasts, only a relatively small number have caused extensive damage or loss of life.

The volcanic eruption of Krakatau in 1883 caused a tsunami wave more than 30 metres high in the Sunda Strait, and waves caused by this violent explosion probably struck most of the southern coastal regions of Indonesia and northern Australia. Of the 20 reported tsunamis since 1900, only those of 1918, 1921, 1928, 1965 and 1976 caused great damage and loss of life. The 1976 tsunami inundated 700 kilometres of coastline bordering Moro Gulf in Mindanao, Philippines. About 8,000 people were dead or missing as a result of this violent wave, and there were an estimated 10,000 injuries. Approximately 90,000 people were left homeless. The toll can be expected to rise with increasing coastal populations. It is usually impossible to provide advance warning in South-East Asia, since almost all tsunamis are of local origin: the earthquake epicentre is close to the coast and the tsunami wave arrives only seconds to minutes after the earthquake is felt.

FIGURE 13.2 Low-lying Vulnerable Coastal Areas in Parts of Asia

Sea-level Rises

The prospect that the level of the oceans will rise by some measurable amount over the next century can be considered either as a threat by nature or a human-induced environmental change. There is substantial evidence that human activities are producing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Thus, global atmospheric temperatures are expected to rise, which in turn will cause the eustatic sea level to rise, as glacial ice melts and is added to the oceans, and the near-surface ocean layers expand with warming sea-water temperatures.

Rising sea levels will affect locations differently. In some areas, the land is currently rising relative to the present level of the sea, and the effects of a world-wide rise in sea level are masked. In other areas, even where the land is not subsiding, a rise in sea level may result in serious detrimental effects on coastal activities. Although the evidence of rising sea levels is not clear in many locations, and in those where it seems to be occurring, the rate is unclear, it seems wise to plan for an elevation of the sea and consequent effects on land. Such planning is a type of adjustment to natural hazards, which can take the form of either the protection of threatened coastal regions by means of structures or land-use zoning which effectively abandons the land to the rising sea.

In South-East Asia and the nearby South and East Asian regions, there are some obvious areas for concern over a slowly rising sea. These are the low-lying areas, particularly those associated with river mouths and deltas (Bardach, 1988) and are shown on Figure 13.2. Most notable are the old and current deltas of the Huang (Yellow) River, the Yangtse, the Mekong delta, the delta of the Chao Phraya River, the Irrawaddy delta and the Ganges delta. Manila Bay, the south shore of Kalimantan, parts of the north shore of Java and the northeast coast of Sumatra are also at risk from sea-level rise. Bangkok, at the head of the Gulf of Thailand, already suffers from frequent flooding, and this problem will presumably increase if the trend towards increasing global air temperatures continues.

Human threats

People threaten the South-East Asian environment in a number of ways. They threaten the land as well as coastal areas and offshore marine waters. The following discussion emphasizes threats to oceans and coastal areas, primarily because more quantitative data are available concerning pollution potentials in these areas. Figures 13.3-13.5 should be considered as illustrative case-studies only: terrestrial ecosystems are also threatened by human activities.

FIGURE 13.3 Sewage and Biochemical Oxygen Demand in South-East Asia

Figure 13.3 follows up the review by E. D. Gomez (Chapter 12) by depicting the results of a study on near-shore ocean pollution caused by a combination of industrial activities and sewage disposal in several specific South-East Asian locations. Organic pollutants include human wastes as well as agricultural wastes from processing of palm oil. rubber and tapioca. Other contributions to marine pollution are animal excrement, commercial fertilizers, food and beverage industries, textile processing and paper industries (Morgan and Valencia, 1983). All these activities create demands for oxygen, which can be measured as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).

The figure shows major cities, generalized areas of high human population concentration, detected pollution from sewage and measured BOD at several locations. The greatest BOD values for both domestic and industrial activities are in Manila Bay, near Bangkok and in the Malacca Strait. Lesser, but still significant, values are found off Jakarta in eastern Java and in East Malaysia. The low value of BOD for Singapore is notable and remarkable; the reasons have been discussed by E. D. Gomez (Chapter 12). The eastern Indonesian archipelago is relatively underpopulated and therefore produces less human and industrial wastes.

Figure 13.4 depicts both actual and potential oil pollution in South-East Asian waters. The actual oil pollution is evident in the form of visible tar balls (oil lumps), hydrocarbon content in parts per billion in 5 ° grid squares, and reports of high hydrocarbon content (Morgan and Valencia, 1983). Potential pollution may occur in regions of extensive oil drilling or exploitation. The line of tar balls along a route between the Singapore Strait and Luzon Strait is clear proof of the effects of tanker shipping on pollution. With the exception of the anomalously high amount in the grid from 5 to 10 °N, 105 to 110 °E, open-sea values of hydrocarbon content of the waters are not alarmingly great. Oil pollution in South-East Asian seas is not a serious problem in the early 1990s, but it could become one as shipping and production activities increase.

The impact of unwise human actions on the region's coastal and marine environments is shown most dramatically by comparing desirable and undesirable activities on the same map (Morgan and Valencia, 1983). By combining land-based pollution sources and mariculture, Figure 13.5 clearly shows potentially conflicting uses of coastal waters. Some areas where land-based pollution is predominant are unsuitable for mariculture; in other regions, mariculture prevails. There are several small regions where pollution and mariculture compete, with obviously detrimental effects. The competition for coastal zones is intense, and the governments in South-East Asia must make Important decisions about optimal coastal use. The problems are most obvious in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, numerous places in the Philippines, the upper Gulf of Thailand and the north coast of Java.

Other threats by human activities include the deliberate clearing and destruction of mangroves, sea-grass beds and coral reefs, often to make way for more directly remunerative activities such as housing and tourist development. There are also inadvertent effects on natural coastline features by land-haled pollution and certain forms of destructive fishing. Sensible planning and effective enforcement of existing regulations are needed for managing coastal zones and near-shore ocean waters Human threats are under human control; they can be minimized or completely eliminated by suitable institutional arrangements and actions.

FIGURE 13.4 Actual and Potential Oil Pollution in South-East Asian Waters

FIGURE 13.5 Land-based Pollution Sources and Mariculture in South-East Asia

Natural hazards and their management

The categorization of hazards as 'natural' and 'human' (or man-made) is undoubtedly an over-simplification and has been criticized as such. Morren (1983: 285) argues that the economic and political causes of hazards are frequently overlooked and 'particular hazard events must be put in a social, material, and historical context including other hazard events and environmental problems and responses'. The problems of natural hazards and man's adjustments to them have been the subject of research by geographers for more than 50 years.

In the United States, Barrows' (1923) observations regarding the concept of human adjustment to the environment provided the theoretical basis. Later, White (1945) and his colleagues at the University of Chicago developed theoretical concepts of human adjustments to natural hazards, based initially on studies of flood hazards in the United States (Burton, 1962; Kates, 1962, 1965; Murphy, 1958; Sheaffer, 1960; White, 1961, 1964; White et al., 1958). Much later still, a number of valuable alternative hypotheses concerning human responses to natural hazards were discussed by Hewitt (1983c) and his colleagues.

Occupancy of Hazardous Areas

Kates (1971) defined natural hazards as the interrelationships between destructive natural events and systems of human use of the environment. Thus, it is the combination of occupancy of an area by people and a destructive event which creates the hazard. Consequently, the question of why people persist in occupying hazardous areas is an important part of the general subject of research.

White (1974) postulated that people continue to live in regions which they know to be hazardous for several reasons. First, the area may offer superior economic opportunities. A coastal location, for instance, might provide an ideal site for a hotel-resort complex. A fisherman must locate his boat on the waterfront, and he frequently finds that by locating his home nearby he saves time and money. Secondly, acceptable alternative opportunities may not be available. A coastal resident may find it impossible to change his occupation from one based on marine-related activities. The farmer who occupies a flood plain cannot grow his crops as efficiently in another location, nor can he conveniently change to another occupation. Thirdly, the occupant of a hazardous zone may have short-term time horizons. He believes that the hazardous event will not occur during the period of time that he plans to occupy the area. Finally, if the occupant has high ratios of reserves to potential losses, he can afford to take a chance; a natural disaster will not ruin him.

To these four reasons can be added the possibility that persons living in hazard-prone areas simply fail to perceive the true degree of risk. People have a natural tendency to believe that disasters will affect others, not themselves (Mitchell. 1974: 323). The question of how they choose an acceptable degree of risk in exchange for the perceived advantages of their location continues to be the object of speculation. A person selecting an option on the basis of assessment of all the anticipated outcomes is using expected utility methods. More likely, a subjective view of probabilities will be employed, or in technical parlance, subjective expected utility methods. If the choice is made by 'subjective assessment of utility, with something less than the goal of choosing the maximum incremental returns, he is using bounded rational methods' (Burton, Kates and White, 1978: 49).

Not only is there a tendency for people to live in hazardous areas, but there is a strong compulsion for those previously subjected to a disaster to want to rebuild their homes and businesses in the same dangerous locations, despite suffering extreme losses (Burton, 1972; Burton and Kates, 1964; Burton, Kates and White, 1968). The return is frequently followed by large capital investments with only minimal provision for future hazard losses (Bowden, 1970; Kates, 1970). Sometimes, public relief and rehabilitation programmes impede attempts to reconstruct facilities in less at risk areas. Thus, the occupants are prevented, in a sense, from leaving the hazardous zone by various institutional and social factors (Islam, 1972; Kates, 1970).

The five explanations presented above may not tell the whole story. The main reason for continuing to occupy hazardous areas could be much simpler. People may simply have no choice. As Susman, O'Keefe and Wisner (1983: 278) eloquently note, 'they stream back to the chars of the Bay of Bengal only weeks after wind and water has swept away all signs of human life', although modern adjustments to hazards are precluded by lack of capital, effective organizations for disaster relief, and other resources to protect human life and property. The cost of natural hazards is rising, as is vulnerability despite large-scale government efforts to reduce risks.

There is some evidence that solutions which emphasize technology are increasing rather than decreasing the degree of risk (White and Haas, 1975: 1). Some of the increase in vulnerability is due to population shifts into hazardous areas, in the belief that technological solutions have made the hazard negligible. Many high-risk areas are coastal, and people simply want to live near the seashore. The greater mobility of modern populations means that many people now live in unfamiliar surroundings. They are unaware of the risks associated with their locations and are unfamiliar with available protective measures, shelters or evacuation routes (White and Haas, 1975: 8).

Adaptation and Adjustment

Since people live with natural hazards, they must find means to adapt to the hazardous conditions. Occurrences should not be a surprise: 'most natural disasters, or most damages in them, are characteristic rather than accidental features of the places and societies where they occur' (Hewitt, 1983b: 25), and 'a careful look at a century or two of history in the hazard-prone regions of today generally shows the sorts of geophysical processes associated with disaster to be entirely likely, even inevitable' (Hewitt, 1983b: 26). Numerous examples include tsunamis on the Sanriku coast of Japan and in Hilo, Hawaii; cyclones in Bangladesh; earthquakes in known highly seismic areas on the 'Ring of Fire'; and eruptions of active or recently dormant volcanoes, such as Mount Pinatubo.

Adaptation has been defined as a 'long-term arrangement of activity to take account of the threat of natural extremes' (White and Haas, 1975: 57). Thus, the farmer who harvests his crop before the onset of heavy monsoon rains is adapting; so too is the fisherman who stops his seagoing activities prior to the start of the typhoon season. Adaptation is merely living with the hazard.

Adjustment, on the other hand, consists of 'all those intentional actions which are taken to cope with the risk and uncertainty of natural events' (White and Haas, 1975: 57). Adjustments may take the form of modifying the cause of the hazard. An example would be seeding of clouds to cause rain and thus relieve drought conditions. Reducing the degree of vulnerability to the hazardous event is another class of adjustment. Cox (1978, personal communication) suggests that this modification can be accomplished by: (i) avoidance of the hazard through the use of seawalls, levees or breakwaters, or by raising the ground above flood level; (ii) resisting the hazard by such means as flood-proofing construction or earthquake-resistant design; (iii) the use of warning systems and evacuation of personnel and movable property to minimize exposure to the hazard; (iv) physical insurance, an example of which is the storage of water in tanks as a protection against drought; (v) economic insurance, in the form of a national flood insurance programme, for instance; and (vi) change of land use to reduce the level of occupancy of the hazardous area.

White (1974: 4 5) considered the adjustment to natural hazards in a different way. He defined adjustments according to the technological level of the society and of the strategy adopted, using the categories of folk or pre-industrial, modern technological or industrial and comprehensive or post-industrial:

  1. Folk adjustments are carried out by societies which have not developed a high degree of technology. There is no attempt to control nature, merely living in harmony with it, accepting the degree of risk imposed. According to White, such modifications are carried out by individuals or small groups. are easily abandoned when found to be unsuitable and have low capital requirements.
  2. Modern technological, or industrial, adjustments attempt to exercise some control over nature. They are characterized by high capital requirements, are usually inflexible and require complex social organizations to be effective.
  3. Comprehensive, or postindustrial, adjustment schemes utilize the best features of the folk and modern technological methods. They employ technology for maximum effectiveness, but also strive for flexibility and the avoidance of high capital requirements; and societies would attempt both to live in harmony with nature and to modify it to suit human needs.

The three general methods of adjustment can be considered stages. Most societies have advanced beyond the folk stage to the technological stage. Some are approaching the comprehensive stage, as new insights into the problem of hazard management and new research techniques are developed. Burton, Kates and White (1978: 217) recognize a mixed stage between folk and industrial. Mixed societies are found in developing nations where traditional adjustments, characteristic of folk societies, are being replaced by actions of national governments.

In the technological stage, White and Haas (1975: 14) recognize five general adjustment methods. These are relief and rehabilitation, insurance, warning systems, technological aids and land-use management. Relief and rehabilitation following a natural disaster are routinely provided in most modern societies. Most frequently, a government organization has the responsibility, and the necessary funds are provided from the treasury. Thus, all citizens of the community, whether directly affected by the disaster or not, share the financial burdens. White and Haas (1975: 3) have pointed out that the routine provision of relief and rehabilitation funds to victims contributes to a feeling of complacency and, in effect, encourages continued occupancy or reoccupancy of the hazard zone.

This tendency could also apply to the second adjustment method-insurance. Another possible disadvantage of insurance is that people who do not foresee the hazard are not likely to purchase insurance, even a low-cost subsidized type. Those who most need the protection are least likely to have it. Kunreuther (1973: 45) noted that 'although the evidence suggests that people do not voluntarily purchase insurance even if it is subsidized, it is not commonly known what factors are responsible for this behavior'.

Three integrated processes make up basic warning systems: evaluation, dissemination and response (White and Haas, 1975: 187). The effectiveness of the first process, evaluation, is dependent on the nature of the hazard and the level of technology which can be employed to understand and predict the occurrence of the event. In the case of flood prediction, for instance, if rainfall can be measured in the headwater areas of a large river basin, or if a system of gauges is in operation upstream on a long river, warnings of potential flooding downstream are likely to be accurate. On the other hand, earthquake forecasting has not yet reached the same level of reliability. The phenomenon is not as well understood, and the equipment is not yet available to measure the strains within the earth with sufficient accuracy to enable earthquake forecasts to be made with confidence.

Dissemination of the results of evaluation requires a reliable communication system. The public response to the warning depends on the efficiency of the first two phases. If the evaluation of the hazard is uniformly accurate and the information is reliably transmitted to the target population, the public response is likely to be positive. If, on the other hand, confidence in the evaluation potential of the operators of the warning system is lacking, or the information is not disseminated to the majority of those subject to the hazard, the response is unlikely to be positive; the warnings will be ignored.

Technological aids consist of various protective works, ranging from the planting of trees and the emplacement of sandbags to serve as flood breaks, to such elaborate and expensive structures as levees, seawalls, breakwaters and dams. The final adjustment method, land-use management, is a legal device instituted by governments, to preclude certain uses of land in areas subject to natural hazards; for example, in an area subject to flooding, high-density residential use might be forbidden, but agricultural use is permitted. In particularly hazardous areas, only open-space zoning might be allowed, and no permanent habitation or economic investment in buildings or land preparation is permitted. Scientific research, providing information on which the five basic adjustment methods may be based, can, of itself', be considered an adjustment method.

It is, of course, possible to employ more than one adjustment method. Warning systems can be used in conjunction with technological aids or land-use management and, generally, relief and rehabilitation measures will be instituted in modern industrialized societies in addition to, and regardless of, any other adjustment schemes employed. In the case of some hazards, such as floods and tsunamis, the alternative adjustment methods are technological aids and land-use controls, either one of which can operate in conjunction with a warning system.

The choice of an approach will depend, among other things, on the one who makes the decisions. White (1961) and Kates (1971) refer to this person as a 'manager', although it is clear that the decision may actually be made by a legislative body. The selection will be dependent on the manager's perception of the hazard, his awareness of the range of possible adjustments and his evaluation of these adjustments in terms of suitability, technical feasibility, economic efficiency and social acceptability. Before the decision is made, there may be hearings in which technical testimony is presented, and the opinions of the public are solicited. Engineering studies and benefit-cost analyses are frequently part of the decision-making process. The final judgement may consider one or more of the above factors, as well as strictly political ones.

Classification of Adjustments by Time-scale

Another potentially useful way to classify natural-hazard adjustments is to categorize them as either pre-event or post-event. Warning systems, research, land-use controls, insurance and technological aids are pre-event adjustments. Post-event adjustments include rebuilding, and relief and rehabilitation. An extension of this simple classification scheme could employ a larger number of time frames.

Basic research into the geophysical aspects of the natural hazard is a very long-range tool, while applied research (designed specifically to develop or improve warning systems), insurance programmes, land-use management methods or technological aids would be of long range. Medium-range actions include the establishment of insurance, land-use management, technological aids and education programmes. The provision of warnings and evacuation prior to an event are examples of short-range, pre-event measures. Evacuation and rescue efforts during the emergency are immediate and rebuilding; relief and rehabilitation occur post-event.

Desirable and Undesirable Adjustments

Adjustments to natural hazards can also be considered desirable or undesirable. Clearly, activities such as looting and profiteering are undesirable, while research, warning systems and education would be considered desirable by most people. Evacuation, which can take place before, during or immediately after the disaster, is carried out only because the individual evacuees or government organizations consider it necessary. In that sense, it is desirable.

All other natural-hazard responses are of questionable desirability, since they may result in more, rather than less, hazard in the future. Relief and rehabilitation measures and insurance have the effect of spreading the costs among a larger number of people. There is a tendency therefore to continue to occupy these areas, since the price will be paid by others, not just by those who may be ignorant, foolish or poor enough to continue to take the risks. Technological aids-trees, breakwaters, seawalls and others can sometimes engender a false sense of security, and they may actually result in increased use of the hazardous area. All structures are subject to failure if the hazardous event is of greater magnitude than anticipated.

Land-use management imposes hardships on people. They may be forced to move to less desirable locations. Moreover, the success of this method of adjustment requires accurate assessment of the hazardous area, a difficult process at best. The area re-zoned might not be large enough, and the next flood or tsunami could damage a nearby region which was previously considered to be safe. Conversely, too large an area might be re-zoned, at considerable additional expense both to government and individuals. Building codes must ensure that constructions will withstand damage during subsequent hazardous events. If the requirements are not stringent enough, there will be damage; if they are excessive, unnecessary expense is incurred. In practice, an acceptable degree of calculated risk must be established and the land-use controls and building codes determined accordingly.

Technological and Legal/Social Adjustments

Finally, some adjustments seem naturally to employ technology, and others might be considered to be legal or social measures. The technological aids recognized by White and Haas (1975) obviously fall into the technological category, while land-use controls, insurance, education, and relief and rehabilitation measures are classed as legal or social responses in this study, although ideally they should be based on a scientific knowledge of the hazard. Warning systems, which usually operate in conjunction with education and prior delineation of hazardous areas, have elements of both technological and legal/social responses.


A number of places in South-East Asia are threatened by natural, human or a combination of both human and natural events of a catastrophic or hazardous nature. Human-induced threats can be controlled by sensible regulations and practices. Natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods or volcanic eruptions will happen, regardless of the actions or decisions of individuals or governments, but the effects can be mitigated by technology, suitable landuse controls, provision of insurance, relief and rehabilitation measures and efficient warning systems. Places will always be threatened, but information concerning the nature of the threats (including their intensity and frequency), coupled with appropriate decisions by people acting through their governments or as individuals, can lead to adaptations or adjustments to hazards which will save both lives and property.

(introductory text...)

Forest management in Nepal
Managing forest resources in Indonesia
Managing forest resources in Thailand and the Philippines
Management of marine resources
Discussion of common property management



THIS paper argues that the rise of state control of forest and marine resources has often been at the expense of indigenous management systems. The resulting conflict between state resource-management policies and local resource-use systems is a major cause of degradation and mismanagement. In terms of total land area, perhaps the leading threat to 'places' in South-East Asia arises because governments have destroyed local commonproperty systems without establishing viable alternative management structures.

Since the publication of The Tragedy of the Commons (Hardin, 1968), commonproperty systems have become the subject of careful study by economists, sociologists, anthropologists, social geographers, historians and political scientists. This work has clarified some of the myths and confusion associated with the 'tragedy'. Contrary to public perception, common-property systems are not free-for-alls. They consist of welldefined ownership arrangements within which management rules are developed, group size is known and enforced, incentives exist for co-owners to follow accepted institutional arrangements, and sanctions work to ensure compliance (Bromley and Cernea, 1989).

Resource degradation often originates in the destruction of local-level institutional arrangements whose very purpose was to create sustainable resource-use patterns. When these institutional arrangements are undermined or destroyed, common-property regimes are gradually converted to open access-a free-for-all in which the rule of capture drives each player to get as much as possible before others do. While this has been referred to as the 'tragedy of the commons', it is, in reality, the 'tragedy of the open access' (Bromley and Cernea, 1989).

Many of the common-property management regimes that once existed throughout Asia have collapsed in recent decades under a variety of pressures (Jodha, 1990). Population growth and commercialization of forest products are two of the major factors behind this breakdown. But perhaps the greatest influence has been the extension and intensification of state authority that has placed control of rural communities and resources in the hands of government agencies and corporations that lack either the will or the means to manage forests in a sustainable manner. Through this process, communities lose the means to restrict use of state forest land, while government forestry personnel lack the organizational capacity to regulate access (Poffenberger, 1990b).

This problem is not insignificant. In the Philippines, for example, more than 50 per cent of the country's total land area is upland forest under the authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) (Lynch and Talbott, 1988), and over 14 million indigenous people and migrant settlers live inside state forests (Cruz, 1986a). In Indonesia, the Ministry of Forestry, with a staff of 50,000, attempts to regulate human use of 74 per cent of the nation's entire land area (Poffenberger, 1990b). Much of the state-claimed forest land is inhabited by swidden and sedentary farming communities. Estimates of the numbers living on or near this land range up to 30 40 million people (Poffenberger, 1990c: 101). In Thailand, the Royal Forest Department (RFD), with a staff of 7,000, administers 40 per cent of the land area (Poffenberger, 1990b). While the governments of South-East Asia have been relatively successful in claiming large areas of forest for the nation, they have been less successful in establishing management structures that ensure the sustainable use of this land.

The arguments that apply to forests apply to coastal and marine environments as well. Coastal communities of small-scale fishermen use a variety of marine tenure practices, rules and institutions, which historically have regulated access to and pressures upon the marine coastal environments (Zerner, 1990). Today, many of these systems are being converted into government-owned regimes that do not recognize community rights. Driven by the destruction of their traditional management systems, impoverished coastal residents themselves become the cause of further biotic and habitat impoverishment.

The discussion begins with a brief description of forest tenure in Nepal, chosen because the history of forest tenure demonstrates the argument made here in a relatively simple and straightforward manner. The chapter then proceeds to use examples from South-East Asia to demonstrate how governments have destroyed indigenous management systems and left large areas of forest unprotected. Attempts by forest departments in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines to develop more sustainable management systems are described. The conclusion suggests that part of the solution to this problem lies in empowering local communities to manage their local resources.

Forest management in Nepal

Before 1950, most forests in Nepal were managed either as common-property resources by groups living in and around the forest or as private resources by landowners granted this right by the monarch. The diversity of management systems found across Nepal is reviewed by Fisher (1991). In 1957, the government sought to increase its control over the nation's natural resources through nationalization of forests. The Department of Forests, however, did not, and does not yet, have the financial or personnel resources to manage the estimated 30,000 forest patches (King and Shepherd, 1987). The 1957 nationalization undermined the customary rights of communities to use forests and did not replace these rights with an alternative management system (Bajracharya, 1983; Messerschmidt, 1986; Wallace, 1981). The nationalization act also forbade the cutting of green forest products, which are essential to the survival of most people, and thereby placed the Department of Forests personnel in direct conflict with local forest users (Nield, 1985).

Faced with large-scale forest destruction and extensive land degradation, the Nepalese government realized that sustainable forest management required the involvement of local people. New laws passed in the mid-1970s turned up to 125 hectares of degraded lands (Panchayat Forest) and 500 hectares of existing forests (Panchayat Protected Forest) over to each local government unit (Manandhar, 1981).

The destruction and eventual revival of a forest-management system is illustrated by a village in the middle hills of Nepal, where the author studied forest condition and forestuse practices in 1980 and again in 1990. The most valuable forests in this village were traditionally managed by members of the local elite who were granted this privilege (birtha) by the monarch. In 1957, they were nationalized and the private managers (mukiya) lost all control. As a consequence, this land became open-access, managed neither by the local community nor the government.

In 1980, there were approximately 26 trees per hectare on open-access forest land in this village with a total wood volume of 9 cubic metres per hectare (J. M. Fox, 1983). In 1990, the corresponding figures were 450 and 46 (J. M. Fox, 1991). In the intervening decade, the population of the village continued to grow at an annual rate of approximately 3 per cent (from 600 to 750 people), and none of the local forests had been officially recognized as village forests. But something important had happened-the villagers, sensing the change in government forest policy, had initiated forest-protection committees to exert control over the availability of forest products (J. M. Fox, 1991). The future of the seven forest-protection committees established by this village now depends on the direction of government forest-management policy. To the extent that the government openly supports these 'users' committees', they may continue to exert a positive influence on forest-use practices.

This village presents a clear example where the rise of state control over forest lands destroyed a local system of management, resulting in increased forest destruction and land degradation. When the government returned control of forest lands to the community (if not formally, at least in the minds of the people), the villagers were able to establish efficient mechanisms for managing forest-use practices. The Nepalese government is not idealistic; it is not returning forest lands to local management out of a sense of fairness or equity, nor does it underestimate the difficulty of achieving stable local management. The government does, however, recognize that the only method of stopping forest degradation is to develop collaborative schemes that bring foresters and communities together in using and protecting the forests for the good of the nation and rural people.

Managing forest resources in Indonesia

In South-East Asia, the situation is more complex than it is in Nepal, primarily because of the role of business interests, both national and foreign, as discussed by Potter (Chapter 5). Logging and population expansion are the primary forces driving deforestation. Governments in search of revenues have encouraged rapid timber exploitation. Population growth floods the forests with migrants searching for farmland. While the forestry establishment frequently blames peasant and tribal communities for forest destruction, government officials support the commercial exploitation of vast areas by multinational and local timber companies. Laws regulating forest ownership reflect the concerns of governments in promoting the commercialization of timber harvesting and in controlling the use of forests by native people. Several recent publications have reviewed the history of forest tenure legislation in South-East Asia (Barber, 1989b; Lynch, 1984; Pragtong and Thomas, 1990; Zerner, 1990).

Brookfield (Chapter 1, p. 7) has argued that in South-East Asia, 'in both colonial and post-colonial times, the environment has been treated as an open-access common resource around private property, and that there is a need to develop the institutions of a managed commons'. This chapter lends support to that argument by considering examples of the destruction of indigenous systems of land management in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines and by reviewing attempts in the 1980s by these countries to facilitate local management. An example of coastal-resource management in Indonesia is also presented.

Public Policy and Forest Management in the Outer Islands of Indonesia

Indonesia is often described as consisting of Java and the other 13,000 or more islands-the outer islands. The outer islands account for 93 per cent of the land mass of Indonesia, but only 37 per cent of the population (Biro Pusat Statistik, 1986). They contain nearly all of the country's forests (98 per cent); 78.4 per cent of the area is controlled by the Ministry of Forestry (1986). Indonesia's tropical forests contain the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world and her forest area encompasses more than half of the rain forests remaining in tropical Asia (FAO' 1986).

Traditional Forest Management among the Dayaks

The effect of government policies on local systems of forest management in the outer islands can be seen in the province of West Kalimantan. Customary law (hukum adat) has long governed the patterns of forest management among Dayak swidden cultivators in the province. The rights to convert or use particular forests are conceived in nested sets of adat access rules. These rights vary slightly among villages and tribal groups. The broadest adat realm consists of all Dayaks in the same language group who live in contiguous villages and who conceive 'their territory' as including the forest falling within particular geographical markers such as mountain ranges or rivers. The next largest territory consists of three or four villages sharing the same language and a 'lieutenant' customary law (temenggung adat).

Privatization of forest resources is recognized as a result of prior claims or the investment of labour in a product's management (that is, production, protection or maintenance). Swidden fields provide an obvious example of this principle. In addition, clearing the brush around a tree to facilitate exploitation imparts rights to the clearer. Similarly, protecting a resin (Agathis) tree from fire during swidden clearing, or wounding the tree to collect its sap or resin, involves the investment of labour in tree management. Planting trees in the forest or in old swiddens clearly imparts private rights to the planter.

Those who break these rules are required to pay fines to the wronged party and to sponsor a meal between the parties concerned and the arbitrators (adat experts). There is also the psychological fine of having been publicly shamed. The fear of this shame (ma/u) is arguably a more powerful deterrent to would-be rule-breakers than the economic costs. Outsiders wishing to extract forest products from a village's territory are required to pay a 'tax' to the village as common-property owner or, if applicable, to a claimant who has been vested with private rights by prior claim and management. In the past, this payment has been 20 per cent of the harvested product.

The decision-making process by which access to a resource is granted once it becomes scarce is important. In a village called Sungai Dalam, (1) scarce resources were valued more highly than their exchange value on the local market would have dictated; for example, slender rattans are used for making baskets, mats and tools for the production and storage of rice. Rattan mats and baskets are also an important source of cash income. In 1989, no one in this village would sell their baskets because rattan sources were dwindling. The villagers did not cultivate rattan; rather they limited its use and sale.

Legal Forest Tenure in Indonesia

The substantive framework for forestry policy in Indonesia is the Basic Forestry Law of 1967 (Undang-Undang Pokok Kehutanan Nomor 5 Tahun 1967). It is a comprehensive statement of state forestry policy and the primary source of authority and guidance for the structure of forest administration, setting of regulations and policy implementation. The Constitution of 1945 (Article 5) is reaffirmed by this statement: 'A]l forests inside the Indonesian Territory, including their natural resources, are controlled by the State.' The law makes it clear that the extent of forest lands is determined by state definition, not by forest cover: 'forest areas' are zones with or without trees that have been designated by the government as forest (clarification to Article 4) (Barber and Churchill, 1987).

The role of adat in the Basic Forestry Law is subordinate to national law and policy. Unlike the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960, the Basic Forestry Law does not say that adat is the foundation for forest land use; instead, it clearly states that adat must not interfere with the implementation of forestry law and policy as mandated in the Basic Forestry Law (Article 17): 'Implementation of social rights, traditional rights as well as individual rights to obtain advantage from forests, must not interfere with the goals stated in this law' (Barber and Churchill, 1987).

The Impact of Conflicting Tenure Systems on the Extraction of Ironwood: A Case-study

Ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) extraction in Borneo is an example of how state tenure policies can accelerate destruction of a common-property resource. Ironwood is perhaps the hardest, most dense tropical hardwood. Its most valuable characteristic is its resistance to termites and other woodeating insects and fungi. For this reason, the Dayaks have traditionally used this timber for house construction and roofing. Because of its weight and the lack of roads into Sungai Dalam, it was seldom cut for sale until 1983. Foresters typically considered ironwood as a 'people's species' because of its use in village subsistence systems, and because it is too dense and heavy to transport by water.

Opportunities to exploit forest products, particularly ironwood, were facilitated by roads built for the timber industry. First, there was a rapid individualization of all standing ironwood trees, regardless of their size and the needs of village households. As traders began to seek out ironwood, most village men hurried into their forest territory and painted their names on as many trees as they could. Formerly, only one or two trees would be claimed in advance, because this was sufficient to build a single structure for a household. The new practice resulted in claims by individuals to whole sections of the common territory. Traders made arrangements with individuals rather than the village as a whole; 'taxes' on contracted trees also went to individuals.

Next, a variety of tenure arrangements emerged for sharing rights, contracting trees, buying ironwood 'territories' and transferring rights. Then followed the development of a range of trading arrangements for selling the wood products. Villagers, however, were at a distinct disadvantage. Although they could buy or rent chain-saws and invest their labour in cutting and hauling timber to the roadside, they could not afford to buy or rent trucks, to pay the unofficial 'user fees' required of all non-company trucks using the logging roads or to buy fuel for their chain-saws. The lack of capital led to the development of working arrangements with outsiders. Neither the locals nor the outsiders tried to prevent the over-exploitation of ironwood or to protect micro-ecosystems where they might regenerate. Outsiders were unconcerned with the future of the local land and forest. Villagers, seeing outsiders flocking into their territory with the means to extract their forest products rapidly, responded by trying to benefit in whatever way possible before others.

To its credit, the forestry department had, in 1980, implemented a policy requiring permits to harvest minor forest products. This policy sought to formalize and to protect the rights of forest-dependent communities to harvest and sell commercial forest products through the establishment of formal state-controlled co-operatives. Three kinds of minor-product concessions were provided for in these HPHHs (Hak Pemungutan Hasil Hutan, permit to harvest forest products). Proposals and plans for an HPHH were to be submitted to the provincial forestry office by village KUDs (Koperasi Unit Desa, Village Unit Cooperatives, the state-created co-operatives).

In Sungai Dalam, however, the HPHH permits failed to stop the exploitation of ironwood, largely because villagers were never informed of their existence. Five or six years after the main logging road passed within walking distance of the village, no one in Sungai Dalam had heard of the HPHH permit system. Nor was a co-operative ever formed for the sale of forest products. In much of Kalimantan, no KUD has ever been established, either for food or forest-product marketing. Nor is it clear whether foresters or other officials should have organized the establishment of a KUD. When it was time to collect and sell ironwood, no officials ever encouraged the villagers to set up a KUD.

Today, the HPHH permits have been discontinued for wood collection in West Kalimantan, and ironwood production and trade are illegal activities. Because no one manages ironwood in the forest, it has become an open-access resource. The sub-district office does not attempt to manage the wood-cutting or trade. The timber company, which the forest service placed in charge of managing ironwood within its concession, is not willing to manage what the local people perceive as their forest resource. In addition, along with the traders, the company has a financial interest in the continuation of the trade. A traditional village system of management lacks both the legal basis and economic incentives to stop this destruction. Though locals realize the environmental and economic implications of their accelerated cutting of ironwood, they are practical about the implications of non-participation (that is, an absolute loss of benefits).

Commercial opportunity is the main driving force behind the destruction of ironwood in Sungai Dalam. Traditional adat management was not adapted to the constraints and opportunities of the modem economic system. However, it could be adapted to modern conditions if the forestry department would recognize the existence of a community system for controlling access to ironwood within locally defined territories, and if the department would support this system in procedures of conflict management.

The ironwood problem symbolizes the basic conflict of natural-resource management found in South-East Asia. Communities lack the authority and the incentive to restrict the use of state forest land. while the Ministry of Forestry lacks the organizational capacity to control access. In the early 1990s, the outer islands of Indonesia are unique in SouthEast Asia in that the Ministry has not yet developed any policy instruments that empower local people to manage local forest resources. It seems appropriate to suggest a more explicit approach to joint management of these lands. This requires a solid legal basis for recognizing traditional management institutions as embodied in local customary laws. as well as methods and sanctions for supporting these systems in procedures of conflict management. Both Thailand and the Philippines have been able to develop this legal framework.

Managing forest resources in Thailand and the Philippines

Public Policy and Forest Management in Thailand

While Thailand lacks the colonial legacy of Indonesia, her forest-management system is very similar to that of her neighbour. This may be due in pan to the important role Europeans played in the development of forest-management concepts and practices in Thailand. In 1896, the British forester H. Slade trained the staff of the newly established Royal Forest Department. Poffenberger (1990b) cites a reference to the late-nineteenthcentury observer in Chiang Mai:

In his work in organizing the Department, Slade naturally met with a good deal of opposition from the local northern chiefs, on whose preserves he had naturally to encroach to a large extent; but in the end, after a hard fight, he won his battle, and this victory weakened the position of the chiefs, who never regained their former prestige. Slade may be said, therefore, to have played an important part in consolidating the Siamese Kingdom (Riggs (1966) cited in Poffenberger (1990b: 18)).

Thus, the Royal Forest Department, as in the Philippines and Indonesia, played a key role in extending the authority of the state over the land rights of indigenous peoples.

The literature on traditional forest-management systems in Thailand is sparse. Swidden cultivators (that is, the Lua', Karen) in the north are reported to have had forestmanagement regimes similar to those found among the Dayaks in Kalimantan, but little has been written about these systems (Kunstadter, 1978). This does not mean, however, that they are not operating in Thailand. In Nepal, their existence was hardly reported before about 1975, but it is now known that traditional forest-management systems have long existed throughout the country.

The history of forest tenure in Thailand is complex. Hafner (1990) and Pragtong and Thomas (1990) have published excellent studies. In 1975, the RFD established the Forest Village Program, under which communities living on state lands were resettled in selected forest areas to supply labour for forest production. However, because forest village projects required heavy capital investment to build community infrastructure, the programme moved slowly and affected few communities. To accelerate the recognition of forest occupants' rights, a land-certification (STK) programme was set up in 1982. Experience indicates that, contrary to expectation, this plan resulted in increased immigration and forest deterioration (Ayuwat, 1990). In 1988, an unusually heavy rainstorm in southern Thailand resulted in a wave of floods and landslides, destroying villages and leaving more than 200 dead. Soon after this event-attributed to forest destruction-the Thai Parliament banned commercial logging in reserved forests and revoked all concessions. In the early 1990s, Thailand is in the process of designing new forest legislation. But, as in Nepal, the change of heart comes too late; most forests have already been destroyed. Fortunately, many villages (if not hundreds of them) have taken action into their own hands.

Lohmann (1991) cites the example of farmers in Ban Toong Yao in Lampoon province. Farmers in this village have, over 60 years, developed a set of written community laws that dictate how the local forest is to be used. Trees can only be cut for genuine necessities, such as to build houses for newlyweds. Those who fell trees for sale on the market or for other purposes face penalties handed down by the village government. These penalties cannot be treated as mere 'costs' by budding timber entrepreneurs, since they also involve a considerable social stigma. The group of villagers who govern the local traditional irrigation system also inspect the forest, taking note of users, reasons for cutting and when it is cut, and preventing exploitation by outsiders; but all locals are responsible for taking whatever action is necessary to ensure that the forest is protected as a source of water, food, medicine and wood. In carrying out this task, Ban Toong Yao villagers do not want the assistance of the government. 'All the government has to do is recognize our rights to it,' says one leader. 'We want to take care of it ourselves, and we can do that better than anyone else' (Lohmann, 1991: 10).

Unfortunately, current forest policy in Thailand does not recognize local forestmanagement systems and most forest-management activities practiced by communities such as Ban Toong Yao are illegal. The RFD has proposed a draft Community Forestry Act, which will empower Thai communities to manage local forest resources (Attanatho, 1991). The details of this programme, however, are not yet clear and even if the Cabinet ratifies the draft proposal, much work remains to be done to develop procedures for implementing these proposals.

Public Policy and Forest Management in the Philippines

Land tenure in the Philippines rests on a concept known as the Regalian Doctrine. This official view holds that since Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines in 1521, all lands not covered by official certificates of title are presumed to be owned by the state. Indigenous people who did not acquire official documentation recognizing their property rights from the colonial bureaucracy are presumed to be squatters on lands owned by the government. In addition, until 'public' land is certified by the DENR to be alienable and disposable, the government maintains that private ownership rights cannot be recognized. As a result, most forest occupants have no incentive to manage the land they occupy (Lynch and Talbott, 1988).

Today the Republic of the Philippines claims ownership to more than 62 per cent of the country's total land area; most of it is located in the mountainous interiors of the major islands. Of the more than 18.6 million hectares classified as 'public' lands in 1987, 15 million hectares were controlled by the DENR. Cruz (1986a) estimated that, as at 1980, at least 14.4 million people resided on these lands.

To provide local people with the security of tenure necessary to encourage investments in land management, the DENR has established a number of programmes to assist forest occupants in documenting their property rights and making claims to state forest lands. These programmes include the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) Program, the National Forestation Program (NFP) and the Ancestral Land Delineation Task Forces (TF-AD) (Gasponia, 1991).

The ISF Program is centred on the concept of stewardship. Upland dwellers within public forest lands can secure a certificate of stewardship from the DENR and acquire exclusive rights to use and occupy land for 25 years, and they are renewable for a funkier 25 years. Stewardship certificates are issued to individuals and to associations or indigenous communities.

The NFP offers livelihood opportunities to upland dwellers in a variety of ways. One programme, Contract Reforestation, provides short-term employment for replanting government reforestation projects. A subsequent agreement, the Forest Lease Management Agreement (FLMA), allows lease holders to harvest, process, sell or otherwise utilize the products grown on land covered by the agreement for a period similar to the ISF.

Finally, the DENR is presently undertaking a nationwide delineation of ancestral domains, through regional and provincial TF-ADs, as a service to Philippine indigenous cultural communities. The task forces seek to delineate the boundaries of ancestral domains through actual ground survey and, in the process, identify the specific indigenous cultural groups that have rights to these areas as their traditional territories. The communities or individual members thereof are eventually issued Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (CALC).

While, as in Nepal, these programmes were only initiated after most forests were cut and degraded, the DENR should be credited for providing the means of empowering people to manage local forests. In addition, the Philippines should be acknowledged as the only South-East Asian country to have established procedures for recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional homelands.

Management of marine resources

Public Policy and Marine Resources in the Makassar Strait, Indonesia

Moving into a different environment, this chapter now looks at an example of the effects of public policy on the management of coastal resources. Before and during the Dutch colonial rule of Indonesia, which ended in 1949, many small-scale coastal societies throughout the archipelago practiced various forms of limiting and regulating access to marine resources. These common practices may be grouped into three categories of management strategy: entry prohibitions to the fishery based on temporal criteria (seasons, calendar cycle, ritual); entry limitations based on particular groups of people or individuals; and open access, but permission required and fees or rents paid for the rights to fish or for the amount of the catch (Polunin, 1984).2 By contrast, both colonial and post-colonial Indonesian law asserts open-access regimes in marine and coastal environments. In addition, judicial decisions and administrative policies have eroded the power of traditional tenure rights.

Case-study: Roppong Fisheries in the Makassar Strair

Since the late nineteenth century at least, the fishermen of the Mandar area of South Sulawesi (Makassar Strait) have constructed rafts (roppong) which function as floating fishing devices. Fronds of green banana leaves attached to the underside of the roppong attract migrating schools of fish.

Traditional practices, property rights and procedures regulating claims and disputes among roppong fishermen in Mandar include open site selection, subject to certain limitations, namely: (i) once a roppong is successfully anchored and its position stabilized, that roppong acquires priority rights, particularly the right to control the area around its location, and the right to exclude or destroy unstable roppong entangled in its anchor lines or interfering in its operation; and (ii) distances between roppong are informally set at 'as far away as the eye could see'.

When one roppong is carried by the wind or current into another's territory, the long lines of the unstable craft frequently become entangled with the stable roppong's lines. The constant, mutual abrasion of these lines eventually severs both from their moorings. To avoid devastating economic losses associated with these events, Mandar fishermen vested priority rights in successfully anchored roppong. The owners of a primary or stable roppong are empowered with the right to destroy the intruder (unstable roppong) by severing its lines and setting it adrift. The right to destroy the unstable craft, however, was limited. Primary owners first had to convene a meeting, at which they consulted with the intruding roppong's owners before deciding upon a solution.

Until the mid-1970s, the frequency of conflict between entangled roppong was probably insignificant, because the number of rafts in the area was limited. After the mid1970s, resilient, more durable polyethylene lines, in conjunction with the use of powerful outboard motors, stimulated the installation of a fleet of new roppong up to 30 kilometres off the Mandar coast. Under these conditions, local practices regulating rights among adjacent owners apparently failed to prevent overcrowding, conflict and overfishing. Although the customary rule regulated relationships between owners, it failed to establish clear spatial boundaries and minimum distances between roppong

In 1988, these problems crystallized in the first roppong fisheries case brought to court, tried and decided by the Pengadilan Negeri Majene (the equivalent of a district court). In March 1986, a crew of roppong fishermen had towed a new raft out into the Makassar Strait. They reached the vicinity of a previously launched craft that had been anchored for many months. As they passed, the crew of the anchored roppong raised its flag, signalling danger and warning the new crew not to drop their anchor. The arriving crew noted the raised danger flag, ignored the warning and launched the roppong 500-1000 metres away.

Over a period of months, the new craft drifted closer to the primary roppong. When it presented an imminent threat of entanglement, the owner of the stable craft attempted to convene a meeting with the intruding crew. After failing to arrange a meeting, the crew of the primary roppong cut the anchor lines and towed the secondary craft out to sea.

The owner of the secondary craft reported these incidents to the police and charges were filed. The court found the owner of the primary roppong and seven members of the crew guilty of intentionally and wilfully using violence against the secondary roppong and sentenced them to two months in jail. They were also fined under civil tort claims for damages caused by the loss of the roppong.

The court invalidated the Mandar fishermen's customary practices permitting the severance of an intruding roppong's lines and, furthermore, asserted that these customs must be 'nullified' or 'abolished' (dihapuskan) (Petusan Pengadilan Negeri Majene No. 11, hereafter KPNM, 1988). It considered that these practices, 'if tolerated ... may become an obstacle to national development and will also threaten the laws and unity of the people'. Moreover, these customary practices 'will provide opportunities for individuals to play judges themselves, and if this tendency is overlooked and continues to grow, it is not impossible that they will threaten national stability' (KPNM, 1988:73 4).

This decision has convened the Makassar Strait from a common-property resource, managed by traditional rules and regulations, into an open-access resource precisely at a time when steps should have been taken to limit, regulate and rationalize access. By ensuring that claimants of an unstable roppong are given access to the courts and afforded remedies under civil and criminal statutes, the decision constitutes an invitation to newcomers to increase their roppong holdings in any location they wish. At the same time, the decision diminishes local confidence in traditional rules and local disputeresolution practices and institutions.

The government of Indonesia actively promotes settlement and development activities in the coastal zone. These inshore areas are consequently subject to resource overexploitation and environmental degradation. As one way of coping with these problems, a growing number of resource managers are suggesting that elements of traditional systems of marine tenure be incorporated into contemporary coastal resourcemanagement programmes (see, for example, Ruddle and Johannes, 1985). In the South Pacific, for example, this strategy has been endorsed through such agreements as the 1982 South Pacific Declaration on Natural Resources and the Environment, which encourages local conservation practices and traditional systems of land and reef tenure that are appropriate for modern resource management (South Pacific Commission, 1982). In Indonesia, however, as the example cited above demonstrates, policy makers are more interested in destroying local systems of management than in adapting these practices to meet current needs.

Discussion of common property management

The above case-studies suggest that the forest and maritime communities of South-East Asia possess a wealth of knowledge about their environment and the ways to manage it in a sustainable manner to meet their needs. In the past, forest and marine resources have been regulated by customary land laws, religious beliefs and peer (group) pressure. Villagers viewed their forest and marine environments as inalienable resources to be passed from one generation to the next. Over the centuries, these communities developed social and technological strategies to respond to diverse ecological settings.

Today, while the viability of many indigenous resource-use systems has been substantially eroded, customary laws and local regulation continue to play an important role in sustainable resource-management practices throughout the region; their relevance in this day and age demonstrates the flexibility of these systems. Villagers have continually modified, reshaped or revitalized these systems to make them instruments of local control. With support, they can be adapted to meet the pressures from states, markets and environmental depletion.

Society must be careful, however, not to romanticize the role of community control or indigenous management systems. Not all native societies are environmentally benign. There are examples of pioneer societies, such as the Hmong in North Thailand, who are known to exploit their environment (Keen, 1978). At least two questions concerning community systems deserve funkier research. First, how do these systems deal with pioneer situations? Do resources have to become scarce before community management systems are developed? Secondly, how effectively do these systems manage highly valued resources'? Community management in Nepal may work because forest resources in Nepal are of marginal value. Ironwood in Kalimantan, however, presents another problem. Given the monetary value of the timber species, can a community management system, even one sanctioned by law, ever control the exploitation of this resource?

Since the colonial period, South-East Asian states have increasingly vested control of the region's forest and marine resources in centralized resource-management agencies. Land legislation either ignored or gave little recognition to the customary rights of indigenous communities. Today, the acceleration of deforestation and the destruction of marine environments indicate that these centralized agencies are failing to manage the resources in a sustainable manner. While many scientists argue that environmental problems in South-East Asia are the result of population growth and the commercialization of natural resources, the most significant factor may be the failure of existing institutional arrangements to promote the rational management of scarce resources. National and local policies must change to meet the demands of a changing world.

While sustainability is now accepted as a constraint on economic development, few experts agree on its definition. Through these case-studies, this chapter argues that sustainable resource use in a crowded world depends on the establishment of direct linkages between people's uses of the environment and the personal consequences of those uses. Sustainable resource-management efforts need to emphasize some form of community control and management of local resources.

Efforts to ensure sustainable management of natural resources through decentralized control of national territory face many difficulties. Forest and maritime organizations that attempt to implement such policies are subject to the influence of political, military and commercial interests. The good intentions of these organizations are generally constrained by a complex and changing national policy environment, which often produces laws and regulations that inhibit attempts to decentralize management to and extend increased responsibilities for resource administration to community groups. Many South-East Asian governments are still in the process of extending their authority funkier into local communities, thus, eroding traditional rights and responsibilities.

Despite these problems, foresters in Indonesia. Thailand and the Philippines are attempting to establish policies and procedures for transferring management authority to forest communities. These efforts usually involve co-operation between the state agency and the local community in designing and implementing policies. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to describe these efforts but joint management programmes, such as social forestry, show greater potential for rehabilitating degraded forests and checking further deterioration than do other management efforts. Success depends upon village societies becoming partners with government agencies in managing local resources: ultimately, this will require a national political commitment to resolving resource-management problems and to increasing agency cooperation with local communities. As Poffenberger (1990b: 23) writes, 'It is probably safe to assume that broad-based adoption of joint management systems will not occur before the end of the millennium.'

  1. This study is based on fieldwork conducted by Nancy Peluso ( 1991 ) in 1989 The pseudonym used for the village is Sungai Dalam, approximately meaning deep or inland river
  2. For a more detailed discussion of traditional marine tenure systems in South-East Asia. see Zerner ( 1990)
  3. This study is based on fieldwork conducted by Charles Zerner (1990)
  4. For a detailed description of social forestry programmes in South - East Asia see Poffenberger 1990c ).

(introductory text...)

Hazards and response
Traditional resource management
Editorial comment


THE two papers by Morgan and Fox deal with important issues in Asia and, in particular, South-East Asia. Many places in the latter region are threatened- threats which have significant consequences for the sustainability of the future environment in the region. The comments here are intended to add more information on the situation.

Hazards and response

Meteorological and Geophysical Hazards

Morgan's paper has primarily discussed the natural hazards. However, he limits himself to the meteorological and geophysical hazards of typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. Landslides, which occur quite frequently in this region, have been omitted. In the 1950s, a huge landslide buried villages in the Dieng region in Central Java, and in late 1989, another large one occurred in West Sumatra. Many people were affected in this landslide. The landslides often disrupted road transportation as well. In unstable areas, human activities, such as road construction and rice fields, can intensify the risk. Many of the landslide-prone areas have been mapped.

Biological Hazards

Morgan has also ignored biological hazards, which are important in this region. Mosquitoes transmit many diseases, such as malaria, filariasis and dengue haemorrhagic fever; and schistosomes carry with them the debilitating bilharziasis disease. About 80 per cent of Indonesians harbour parasitic worms. Some diseases (malaria and dengue haemorrhagic fever) are widespread; others (bilharziasis) are localized. In Indonesia, only Java can be considered free of malaria, except for small pockets in coastal areas and some places in the mountains. Bilharziasis is found in an isolated area around Lake Lindu in Central Sulawesi, and in other places in Asia as well.

Some biological hazards (malaria and bilharziasis) are natural, although the spread and intensity of outbreaks are often influenced by human activities. The development of irrigation in Central Sulawesi, for example, has aroused concern among parasitologists that it may facilitate the spread of bilharziasis. Other biological hazards (cholera and hepatitis) are primarily the results of human activities, which are brought about by increasing population densities and unsatisfactory control of sanitary conditions. The diseases have caused misery and deaths, and the chronic nature of some have undoubtedly also reduced the productivity of many millions of people.

Human response to biological hazards has been researched in order to gain more understanding of the biology of the pathogens, their vectors and the physiological response of the human body to disease. The knowledge gained has been successfully used to control many diseases by vaccination, medication, eradication of the vectors by biocides and environmental engineering, and better health services.

Man-made Hazards

Man-made hazards are not discussed by Morgan, except those in the marine environment, although they are becoming ever more important in the region. Transportation and industries are important sources of pollution, and their rates of growth are high. Pollution can also occur as a result of accidents; some could be very serious: witness the Bhopal and Chemobyl disasters in India and the Ukraine respectively. The risk of tanker accidents is also not negligible in the regional seas.

Another man-made hazard is land subsidence which has been reported in Bangkok and Jakarta. These areas have become more prone to floods and, hence, will suffer from inundation by future sea-level rise.

Generally, pollution control is still weak in the region, and perhaps all metropolitan and industrial areas, with the exception of Singapore, are badly polluted. The extraction of underground water is also weakly controlled.

Potential Future Hazards

Potential future hazards are discussed by Morgan, and the sea-level rise has been singled out. However, he has discussed only inundation. But sea-level rise, if it indeed occurs, will also give rise to and/or intensify problems of seawater intrusion into rivers and underground aquifers, and of coastal erosion. The transmigration villages in the tidal areas in southem Kalimantan and eastern Sumatra (in which thousands of families from Java, Madura and Bali have been resettled) and the fish ponds along the long coasts of SouthEast Asia could suffer from both inundation and higher salinities. Salt-water intrusion could plague, for example, Pontianak in Kalimantan, which has periodically suffered from such a problem, and it could render the underground water of Jakarta useless; its quality is already sub-optimal because of salinity problems, presumably due to excessive extraction of underground water. Salt-water intrusion can also endanger the foundations of buildings. While the areas can be relatively easily protected from inundation-a very expensive undertaking-it will be much more difficult to cope with saltwater intrusion.

Another serious problem related to sea-level rise is coastal erosion. According to the Bruun rule, for each centrimetre in sea-level rise, the coastal line will retreat an average of 1 metre. Thus, with a 20-centimetre sea-level rise, which is considered plausible in the first half of the twenty-first century, the coastline will retreat by 20 metres. Therefore, coastal fish ponds, settlements, industries and hotels, among other activities and structures, which are located within 20 metres from the present coastline would be threatened, even though they would not be inundated.

It has also been predicted that climatic change resulting from global warming could increase the frequency and intensity of storms. However, the degree of uncertainly is still high. Intensive international negotiations, which formed parts of the preparations for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Brazil in June 1992, are now under way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but there are still many difficulties before agreement can be reached. Some developing countries feel that they are being unfairly treated, and there are many uncertainties involved.

Still another potential future hazard, one which would affect the region and its people, is the so-called ozone hole which would expose the people to more Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. Although dark-coloured people are believed to be less sensitive than lightskinned people to the threat of skin cancer caused by UV-B radiation, the effect on cataract formation is known to be undiscriminating. The disease can be corrected by a simple operation, but many people in this region cannot afford such an operation and, hence, an increase in the number of blind people could occur as a consequence of the ozone hole. There are also indications that more UV-B radiation could reduce the yield of crops and fisheries.

There is general agreement that the cause of the ozone hole is the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Montreal protocol is intended to reduce CFC emissions but, because of their long life, the ozone hole may well last far into the twenty-first century and beyond, even under the best circumstances.

Risk Perception and Assessment

Morgan has discussed at length the theoretical background of natural hazards and human responses. He correctly stated that there is still incomplete knowledge in the way people perceive and assess risks. Although many risks can be evaluated scientifically and objectively, subjective judgement still prevails and may often dominate. Traditional people, who constitute the majority of the inhabitants in this region, are willing to accept certain risks from natural hazards, partly because when a hazard strikes they consider it an act of God, and partly because resettlement somewhere else, if such is possible, brings new uncertainties which are considered more hazardous than the current risk they are facing. The resettlement by transmigration of the people on the slope of Mount Merapi and in Dieng, both in Central Java, for example, has met with considerable resistance. Many people who did transmigrate returned to their original habitation; the soils in the resettlement areas were less fertile than in their home villages.

Subjective assessment is also very common with educated people. For instance, accidents are far more likely to take place on roads than in nuclear plants, yet many people refuse to accept the risk of radioactive exposure resulting from relatively rare nuclear accidents, but they are willing to accept the far higher risk of death in road accidents.

Many studies have been carried out on risk perception, assessment and management. Since they are strongly influenced by culture and education, it would be useful for such studies to be introduced and/or strengthened in South-East Asian universities and research institutes, in order that policies for dealing with risk management can be based on more reliable scientific bases.

Traditional resource management

Fox's paper has considered traditional versus government management of common properties. It is hypothesized that local traditional management is superior to a centralized government management. Although this is true in many instances, Fox warns society 'not to romanticize the role of community control or indigenous management systems'. In addition to the fact that not all indigenous systems are benign to the environment. he correctly asserts that the social and economic changes which are occurring in this region are also affecting many communities. Studies in East Kalimantan have shown that, even in remote areas, communities have been influenced by the market economy. As a result, they grow food and other commodities not only for their subsistence but also to sell them in the market. This requires a surplus, such as rice, which in turn makes it necessary to clear more forest for shifting cultivation. It also shortens the slash-and-burn cycle which makes it more difficult for the forest to regenerate.

It has also been suggested that to make the harvest of forests sustainable, non-wood products (for example, rattan) and different kinds of latex, fruits and bamboo should be substituted for wood. This will only be successful if the harvest of these non-wood products remains at a low and subsistence level, as mentioned by Fox in the case of a village which refrained from exploiting rattan for commercial purposes. If the alternative product satisfies the demands of national and international markets. traders will lure local people to supply them with the desired quantity of the commodities and over-exploitation would soon occur, with disastrous effects on the environment. This excessive harvest would not be sustainable. Few local people, including their leaders, would be able to resist the temptation to enjoy such amenities as radios. tape recorders, televisions, cameras and other modern gadgets.

Population growth is another important factor which may threaten the sustainability of traditional management. It is widely known that in many places, it forces people to shorten the slash-and-burn cycle, to the extent that the forest is replaced by shrubs or even a/ang-ulang grass (Imperata cylindrica). Although the alang-alang is not always useless or noxious, it poses fire hazards, and in many places, it is not desired. Given time, communities could presumably adapt management methods to the changing situation. An example is the shifting cultivators in a/ang-alang regions in North Sumatra.

Another interesting example is the talun-kebun method in West Java. This is essentially shifting cultivation in a talun. which can be a monoculture of bamboo (talun bambu) or a mixed culture of perennials with some annuals. In the case of a talun bambu) a patch of about 1 000 square metres is cleared by harvesting the bamboo. In a mixed culture, trees to be harvested (for example, Albizzia falcataria are selectively cut and the branches of those left standing are pruned and used for firewood. Small twigs and leaves are sun dried and burned. Annuals, such as tobacco, onions, lablab beans (Dolichos lablab), and cassava are planted in the clearings created by treefelling. Fertilizers and compost from the village are applied. Bamboo, logs of the harvested trees and products from annual crops, are sold in local markets and nearby cities. After the harvest of annual crops, the bamboo and perennials have resprouted and regrown. Another patch is harvested and the process repeated. In the region studied, the slash-and-burn cycle was eight years. In this modified shifting-cultivation system. the natural forest has been replaced by the talun and the crops have been selected to suit the market economy. The system is capable of supporting higher population densities than can be sustained by a traditional shifting-cultivation method.

In West Java, fish ponds are traditionally used to recycle wastes, including human excrete, by building overhangs to serve as latrines. However, the people do not use the water from the polluted pond for their daily needs: instead, they pipe it from upstream sources by using bamboo. When population density was low, the interval between use and reuse, both in terms of space and time, was great. The water had sufficient time to undergo a natural repurification process and the system worked well. However, with the growth of population, the interval between use and reuse became smaller and smaller, until finally the water did not have sufficient time for repurification. Outbreaks of diarrhoea have now become common. These outbreaks have undoubtedly been factors in the high infant mortality rate in West Java.

The above examples show that, in some instances, the indigenous people do indeed have the wisdom to develop alternative methods which show every indication of being sustainable. In others. however, modifications to the traditional systems had proved unsustainable. There are also cases in which methods remain constant and, although basically they are ecologically sound, they are maladapted to the changing environment and may even become hazardous. Adaptation is possible if people perceive the changes, and these changes are slow and not too radical. Even when the changes are slow, but if they are not perceived by the people, then failure is the result. This is reflected in the fish ponds of West Java. Therefore, successful adaptation and adjustment may be the exception rather than the rule, particularly when environmental changes are rapid and occur on a large scale.

Consequently, the general assumption that traditional wisdom can deal with the problems if only the people are left alone cannot be made. In many cases, intervention will be needed, but it is not easy to devise a management system in a changing world. Another major challenge is how to do it wisely, that is, not to impose a top-down process but to co-operate with the people. To achieve this goal, government officials and scientists must recognize that villagers, even in remote areas, do have ecological knowledge and wisdom which can be tapped and productively used in the process of devising an adaptive management system.

Editorial comment

The discussion focused on the institutional issues raised, in the contexts of hazard impact and changes in the conditions of exploitation. It was suggested that the question of disaster relief has become so politicized that politics, rather than the nature of the event, may really determine what does or does not happen. It was also asked if indigenous institutional arrangements really related to environmental resource management, or simply to property, and should be interpreted as an outcome or resolution of conflict over scarce resources (McCay and Acheson, 1987). In this case, it would not be surprising that when the conditions of conflict change, so do the arrangements. Conditions of access to property change, but do not collapse. In this view, environmental conservation and environmental degradation are unintended side-effects of the different conflict resolutions.

James Fox called attention to the shifting nature of biological hazards. Problems change, go away or resurge over time, presenting new environmental hazards and challenges. Twenty or more years ago, there was great confidence that malaria was on its way out as a major hazard in most parts of South-East Asia. Now, everywhere there is a resurgence. Mosquito species have changed habitats, and the parasite itself has changed. Worst of all, where formerly P. vivax ma/aria was the principal form in the region, now P. falciparum has increased to become dominant, with no really reliable prophylaxis. This serious development is symbolic of a good deal that has happened in the biological field in the last 20 years.

(introductory text...)

Threatened peoples: Contrasts in composition and environment
Tribal peoples of south-east Asia: Causes and nature of threat
The indigenous socio-economic system: Is it sustainable?
The penan and the timber blockade
Responses to the problems of the threatened peoples of south-east Asia



THE countries of South-East Asia display remarkable ethnic and social as well as economic and environmental diversity. Almost every one of these countries comprise a multitude of ethnic, social and economic (and political) divisions. In the early 1990s, after almost three decades of rapid economic growth, during which parts of the region and its people have come to share more social characteristics with the developed nations than with the underdeveloped, the disparity between the rich and poor socio-economic groups is widening in almost all these countries. Thus, poverty (both urban and rural) and socioeconomic inequality remain on the central agenda in development planning.

Malaysia serves as a good example. Notwithstanding two decades of concerted efforts, which sometimes have involved the deliberate mobilization of political authority-and its social and economic power-to achieve national unity through the eradication of poverty and the restructuring of the economy, these goals remain as ever on the agenda. The New Development Plan (NDP) of 1991 now hopes to achieve these objectives only by 2020 (Government of Malaysia, 1991b). Regional disparities in economic benefits and differences between ethnic groups remain among the problem issues in ethnic and political relationships. Yet Malaysia has recorded significant progress in poverty alleviation and redistribution of wealth; official figures on poverty show an overall decline from 64 per cent at the start of the implementation of its New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970 to approximately 29.2 per cent in 1984 (Government of Malaysia, 1986).

In South-East Asia, Malaysia is among the forerunners in social and economic development. However, this chapter emphasizes that, in many cases, the degree of improvement differs widely between the urban and rural poor, between the different components of the agricultural sector, and between different ethnic groups. In some cases, the percentage figures provide a misleading picture: for example, while the income level of the lowest four deciles of the population of Peninsular Malaysia increased from M$76 in 1970 to M$186 per month in 1979-more than a twofold increase-the later income figure is still well below the poverty income level for 1979 (Government of Malaysia, 1986).

The same plan admitted that since the late 1970s, the performance of the agricultural sector in Malaysia had not only declined but the number of smallholder farmers with plots of uneconomic size was still very high. Elsewhere in SouthEast Asia, similar situations, especially among the rural sectors of the economies, are also observed. In Thailand, a study conducted by the International Labour Organization noted that despite the resilient nature of the overall economy and despite the dynamism of commercial agriculture and the strength of exports, the incidence of tenancy and landlessness in fact increased, especially in the frontier areas (Peter Richards, 1982).

Threatened peoples: Contrasts in composition and environment

The threatened peoples dealt with in this chapter include, in a broad sense, all the impoverished socio-economic groups of South-East Asia. Not by design, but in practice, these people are all marginal, both socio-economically and environmentally, to the economic development taking place in the region. Their ability to fulfil even basic needs is reduced or threatened, because of changes taking place around them over which they have little control and in which they are unable to participate. Many of them are characterized by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, high infant mortality and low life expectancy to a degree below any reasonable definition of human decency. They are the people most likely to be without, or only have limited access to, adequate medical facilities in time of sickness and disability, without adequate schools to raise their level of literacy, and without hope for better employment. They also suffer from the social isolation of being 'unwanted'. Some belong to socio-economically inferior classes, forced into such a situation by custom, prejudice and political development, and required to accept the lowest paid and menial tasks, and be physically segregated. Who are these people?

In South-East Asia, they comprise numerous named socio-economic groups but, for convenience of discussion, they are broadly categorized here as the urban poor, smallholder and subsistence farmers and ethnic minorities. Although the last two categories have wide areas of overlap, ethnic minorities in the region deserve to be considered as a separate group because, beside other variables, their small population size, geographical distribution and location are significant factors in their underdevelopment.

As in most developing countries, the capitals and major cities of South-East Asia are not only the administrative and political centres but are also the heartlands and cores of economic development taking place within each country. They are regions where opportunities are relatively more abundant. A result is the movement of population from the rural areas into the cities in search of an alternative form of livelihood. But armed with nothing more than hope and sheer determination, and frequently without 'root' in the cities, the majority of newcomers head for the shanty towns which now fringe the outskirts of all South-East Asian cities; there they live in houses made from corrugated iron, plastic sheets and packing cases, without safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. With high-unemployment problems, the urban poor are trapped in a vicious circle. Those lucky enough to have a job suffer long hours, low wages and exposure to chemicals, dust, excessive noise and dangerous machinery.

In most cases. the squatter areas of these cities were left out of the rapid economic growth that these urban areas had enjoyed in recent decades. Many are unlikely to enjoy wide-ranging reforms in the future.

In short, they have remained, at best, economically and environmentally stagnated, like the Klong Toey community in the metropolitan district of Kraeng Thep Maha Nakhon, Bangkok. The Klong Toey community consists of 30,000 people squatting in houses often so crowded as to have 4 adults per room in dwellings built over a swamp. Only 3 in 100 have direct access to water supply; most people draw water from the filthy river. In addition, the lack of sewage and rubbish disposal is a constant threat to health. One-third of school-age children cannot attend school.

The same situations characterize many other major cities in South-East Asia such as the Tondo area of Metro Manila in the Philippines. However, even the meagre salary earned by these urban squatters, which in the case of those in the Tondo area amount to P10,000 per household per annum, is significantly higher than the national average of P5,800. As Myers (1985) has noted, the Klong Toey community is relatively well off compared with their rural counterparts, aside from the environmental threat. Even in Kuala Lumpur, where the degree of success in addressing squatters' problems is significantly better than in most countries, l 7 per cent (over 156,000 people) of the city's population were still squatters in 1985.

In the rural sector, Malaysia has easily outpaced her neighbours in efforts to reduce poverty. Even so, the conditions in some parts of the rural economy have changed only marginally. In the agricultural sector, a significant degree of disparity still exists. The poverty level among many categories of small-scale farmers is still very high; 43.4 per cent of rubber smallholders, 57.7 per cent of paddy farmers and 46.9 per cent of coconut farmers in Peninsular Malaysia are still living below the official poverty line. Although specific data are not available, the incidence of poverty is estimated to be even higher among the swidden farmers and other indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak who, unlike their peninsular counterparts, are frequently left out of development projects directly funded by the federal government.

However, among the perplexing aspects of modern Malaysia is the fact that some of the impoverished agricultural areas include large-scale development projects implemented by the government, notably those for the paddy farmers and rubber smallholders; for example, the Muda valley in the peninsular state of Kedah is not only the site of the largest wet-rice irrigation project, it is also managed and administered by a specially instituted statutory organization (the Muda Agricultural Development Authority) to 'ensure its success'. But apart from considerable success in the spread of double cropping and the promotion of more productive technology, the social benefits are limited. Almost half (46 per cent) of its paddy farmers earned less than M$60 per month in 1982, 10 years after the completion of the project (Shukor Kassim, Gibbon and Todd, 1984). A social condition worse than in other paddy areas of Peninsular Malaysia (Scott, 1985) is, therefore, only to be expected.

This chapter will henceforth concentrate on the problems experienced by tribal minorities, but within the wider context presented above. Apart from being among the impoverished, the tribal minorities themselves are being increasingly marginalized. The nature of developmental and environmental problems encountered by these socio-economic groups by no means represents the vast range of socio-economic difficulties faced by the various threatened societies in South-East Asia, each of which can have a very different story. But it does offer a broad picture of the dimension of the concerns l:aced, the main driving forces, and the contending issues which need to be addressed in order to provide a more sustainable environmental future for the threatened peoples.

Tribal peoples of south-east Asia: Causes and nature of threat

From one perspective, the diverse ethnic composition of South-East Asia is among its most enchanting socio-cultural characteristics. Almost every one of the countries of the region contains as many as two to three dozen ethnic communities, each possessing and practicing a culture which is only superficially similar to that of the others. This situation is partly explained by the pattern of migration of the various ethnic groups into the region from the southern parts of China, as well as by political developments in the past (LeBar, 1972; Rambo, 1982). But most of these groups constitute small minorities. One or two racial or ethnic groups form between one-half and as much as three-quarters of the total population of each South-East Asian country; the rest comprise small tribal communities with populations frequently totalling only a few thousand. Minority status makes them relatively vulnerable to socio-economic and environmental changes led by, and largely for, the majority groups.

Since the 1980s, considerable interest has been focused on some of these small minority groups in South-East Asia, partly as a result of the fear-some of it based on fact and some based on assumptions-that disintegration if not the extinction of these groups or their cultures will be the culmination of their greater interaction with the outside world. This concern is particularly expressed for those tribal communities who continue to rely principally on the natural environment for a major portion of their subsistence. There are indications that tribal community interactions with outsiders have principally benefited the latter. It is claimed that these groups are increasingly being marginalized socio-politically, economically and environmentally.

Apart from the fact that this concern with the survival of ethnic minorities is now globalized, there is nothing particularly new about development leading to the erosion and disintegration of tribal cultures, and the degradation of their living environment' following intensification of their interaction with the outside world. There is abundant historical evidence (Pringle, 1970; Wang, 1958) and anthropological and archaeological testimony (Colless, 1969; Dunn, 1975; Hutterer, 1974, 1983b; Rambo, 1969, 1988; Wales, 1940) as well as information from geographical sources (Lien, 1988; Potter, 1988) on environmental abuse and economic exploitation of tribal people living in this region. As Dentan (1965) noted in his study of the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia, social, economic and physical exploitation is not recent.

Up until the early 1900s, the Orang Asli within the states of Perak and Pahang, for example, were known to have suffered adversely at the hands of the Malays.

Today, as in the past, the frontier regions are still the warehouses of resources demanded by the outside groups and the world at large. For centuries, South-East Asia was the scene of violence and exploitation, arising in the early periods from competitive demands for spices and valuable forest products such as sandalwood, and subsequently from forced cultivation of cash crops like coffee, coconut, rubber and sugar-cane by various colonial powers. Every student in South-East Asia has been taught in history lessons about numerous examples of economic exploitation of the larger groups, such as those associated with indentured labour in the agricultural plantations and estates in Malaya and the culture system introduced by the Dutch in Java, but they have learned less of the problems faced by the tribal minorities.

Lately, exploitation has moved in a big way into the remaining forests, within which many tribal peoples have continued to preserve their identity after having been driven from areas long ago converted to agriculture, or absorbed among the more densely settled majority populations of these areas. Although the variety and amount of forest resources that are currently being exploited still represent only a small portion of the wealth that the tropical rain forest environment offers, their extractions frequently result in the degradation and extinction of the remaining resources, and generate an enormously heavier impact on the forest-dwelling people than in the past.

There are other causes of socio-economic and environmental destabilization of indigenous societies. Severe depopulation of tribal peoples was another familiar feature of the early years of frontier development until as late as the turn of the twentieth century. In Borneo, for instance, the introduction of new types and strains of viruses and diseases by foreign traders and European administrators in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a major cause of massive depopulation of many tribal communities, and the total extinction of some tribal clans (Lien, 1987). Other causes include punitive raids to impress tribal populations of the overwhelming force available at the government's disposal, and thereby to gain their 'co-operation' (Hose, 1926; Pringle, 1970). Such raids inevitably resulted in severe loss of life, directly by war and indirectly through seriously disturbing the subsistence economy. There have also been more subtle means of interference, such as the extension of government control to establish 'law and order' in frontier areas, followed by the introduction of formal and 'orderly process' of native administration replacing traditional systems. Setting one people against another has sometimes formed part of this process, such as the use of Iban tribesmen by the Brookes in their establishment of control over Sarawak.

Now there is the 'rule of law', and the impact of legislation and regulation relating to land, forest and natural resources. All these laws, except in Thailand, have been inherited from colonial governments without significant amendments. However, what is new and different about the current situation is the speed at which new development, taking advantage of these laws, has reached tribal communities. An increasingly complex process of change now affects almost all tribal peoples. In the post-war era, many new developments causing serious environmental and other problems have surfaced, while the number and intensity of the more common ones such as mining, logging, commercial agricultural and resettlement projects, dam and highway construction, and tourism have increased. Nowadays, tribal people in some regions are also forced to move from their homelands for strategic, military and security reasons.

Independence has brought about new perceptions and contexts of development' along with socio-political relationships and alignments. In some regions, such as in the mainland countries of South-East Asia and in the Philippines, government authorities see the existence of autonomous tribal populations within the boundaries of the state, or demands by tribal populations for some degree of political autonomy, as a challenge to their authority and a possible pretext for aggression by foreign powers. As each of the SouthEast Asian countries progresses, it develops new and complicated legislation which frequently and directly, though unconsciously, affects the livelihood, but takes little consideration of the needs, of tribal peoples. Economically, modern agricultural development projects in the region do not only involve massive efforts in replacing traditional crops and livestock production but also productive techniques which development planners and experts consider superior, frequently without analysing carefully their environmental implications.

Unfortunately, the many misguided efforts and attempts by 'local elites' to apply inappropriate development policies, strategies and technologies to fragile environments where tribal people live are, sometimes, reinforced by bilateral financial aid institutions and international assistance. The World Bank has come under heavy criticism in recent years for ignoring non-economic considerations, and contravening many United Nations declarations for the protection of tribal communities, in its approvals of development funds. Such criticisms, fortunately, have caused the World Bank to reduce its support for transmigration projects in Indonesia (Colchester, 1987), led to its disassociation from plans to construct dams along the Chico River valley in the Philippines (Bello, 1981), and more recently withdrawal of its support for the timber-related industries in the region (New Straits Times, 3 October 1991).

By and large, the marginalization of indigenous tribal people has increasingly been viewed as the result of their domination and exploitation by advanced, outside socioeconomic groups, and the destruction of the physical environment by external activities. The increased incidence of food shortage experienced by many nomadic groups in SouthEast Asia, such as the Penan tribe of Sarawak, is frequently seen as the direct result of environmental damage caused through economic encroachment by economically advanced outside groups (Eder, 1987). In the case of the Penan, blame is placed on the timber industry (Hong, 1987). Similar rhetoric citing poverty as the result of inadequate attention given by planners, and that industrialists see urban squatters as a cheap source of labour-has been used to explain impoverishment among these and other low-income groups. While admitting the significant roles of such external factors, one must, however, admit that internal factors play an equally important role.

Poverty and tradition have also led to environmental damage in different ways. As Lian (1987) observed, the obsession with trying to escape from the clutch of repressive, traditional socio-political and economic systems has been important, and so too is the desire to emulate the economic achievements and to keep abreast with the level of socio-economic progress attained by their economically advanced neighbours. Even a desire to leap out of the agricultural sector has been among the factors which drove subsistence Kenyah farmers of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak to engage actively in nonagricultural activities. While such decisions and changes led to the weakening of the ecologically viable traditional system of swidden agriculture because a shortage of labour forced Kenyah farmers to use land closer to the village more intensively, resulting in lower farm production in the long term, the Kenyah saw such a move as economically more advantageous. It is also one of the effective means of keeping most of the population in their traditional homeland, and indirectly protecting it from outside incursion. The Kenyah tribe considers greater interaction with the outside world as a viable and relatively rational strategy of resource management; moreover, it is one which they see as reducing their exploitation by outside communities. A similar trend is observed among the Orang Asli tribes of Peninsular Malaysia (Gomes, 1990; Hood Salleh, 1989). As Gomes (1990: 12) argues, 'Against popular conception, capitalism did not completely destroy Orang Asli economies but actually transformed them in such a manner as to allow the continuance of subsistence-oriented economic activities and the preservation of the salient features of their traditional economy: diversity, flexibility and adaptability.'

Adaptability is probably one of the important issues that needs to be addressed in studying the environmental future of threatened people, especially the indigenous tribal people of South-East Asia. Are they capable of devising measures to shield their culture from being overwhelmed completely by outside influences? What are their limitations? These are stimulating questions for research. Contrary to popular opinion, tribal people, and probably almost all groups of threatened people, are not completely at the mercy of the advanced socio-economic groups, although there are limits to their ability to counter external influences which could destabilize their culture. The rest of this chapter examines this complex and sometimes controversial subject, and is based largely on the situation observed among some tribal groups in Sarawak.

The Orang Ulu Tribes of Sarawak

The Orang Ulu' of Sarawak, consisting of approximately two dozen distinct tribal groups, are among the smallest of the indigenous tribes found in Sarawak. Their small population size, as well as the fact that these communities were frequently in conflict with each other in the past, made them very vulnerable socio-economically and otherwise. Among the important features of their cultural history have been their constant movements from one river valley to another, both for security reasons and to establish control over jungles rich in important forest products (Lien, 1987; Southwell, 1959). Imported goods obtained from the exchange of jungle products played a very important role in the socio-cultural and economic systems of the Orang Ulu, and this has been true for centuries.

In view of the central importance of land in their livelihood, and acknowledging their weaknesses in any direct form of political conflict and confrontation with the early colonial Brooke regime, the Orang Ulu were compelled to compromise, and to surrender to the regime their past claims of political 'sovereignty' over territories which they occupied, in exchange for the security of rights over land and resources (Lien, 1987). They took advantage of the peaceful political atmosphere created by non-invasive colonialism under the Brookes between the mid-nineteenth century and 1941, to enhance their social and economic standards by migrating to new areas which were abundant in jungle resources, and which were also relatively more accessible to traders. Thus, the cession of the Baram River valley to the Brooke government by the Sultan of Brunei in 1882 was followed by constant migration of Orang Ulu communities into the Baram. The Baram River valley is more easily accessible by boats, far into its upper course, than is the upper Rejang River valley, the traditional homeland of most Orang Ulu. Some others moved from the remote volcanic plateau of the Usun Apau, close to the modem border with Kalimantan, into the river valleys of the Baram system.

None the less, the downriver migration of the Orang Ulu did not, until after the midtwentieth century, extend beyond the lower limits of dry undulating land. Lian (1987) relates this limitation to two main factors. First, it was to prevent cultural over-exposure to outside influence. Secondly, and more importantly, it was because of the lack of land suitable for practicing shifting cultivation beyond this topographic limit. Both factors have moulded the Kenyah, the Orang Ulu group to which the author belongs, to remain relatively cohesive until even today while maintaining their economic relationship with the outside world.

Today, the migration pattern is increasingly towards places where wage-employment opportunities are found, that is, principally in the rural areas, rather than being mostly rural-urban in nature. The Orang Ulu continue to abandon selected aspects of their culture and traditions-some of which had been important in serving their needs, especially their subsistence needs-in order to accommodate certain elements of the new socio-economic systems into their culture, while preventing the erosion of its more basic and fundamental aspects. For example, communal forms of production which had been an important economic strategy to attain self-sufficiency in food production have been replaced by a production system based on the household, which better suits the modern economy.

In the agricultural sector, while swidden remains an important part of economic activities, the length of time and the amount of labour devoted to this activity have decreased significantly as a result of the use of modern innovations: tools such as the motorized chain-saw and herbicides. Some Orang Ulu have adopted wet-rice cultivation. The Kenyah in the Tinjar valley of Sarawak have cultivated rubber and coffee since it was first introduced into the area by traders in the late 1940s, without any form of inducement from the government, because cash-crop cultivation brought about significant improvement to their lives. As Lian (1987: 161) noted: 'The farmers admit that the introduction of rubber and coffee was one of the major milestones in their economic development and for which the post-war governments have been given some praise.'

There are other socio-political and economic merits of adopting the modern economic systems. Most significantly, cash cropping facilitated erosion of the traditional economic domination of the commoners by aristocratic households. As the lower social classes form the majority of the Kenyah population, their participation in economic development has been crucial in the advancement of the society as a whole. This is one main reason why the Kenyah have been responsive to certain in situ agricultural development projects, but not to the land-resettlement schemes.

Since the early 1970s, the Orang Ulu have participated very actively in the timber industry, contrary to the opinion and claims expressed in much conservationist literature that they oppose logging (Hong, 1987; Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 1990). This has happened in spite of the fact that they are being discriminated against in job and other opportunities. Participation in the timber industry has provided the means by which they could fulfil some of their primary and secondary social and economic needs, objectives and aspirations. Indeed, the industry has enabled some to leap out of the agricultural into the non-agricultural sector. But, as in the past, the Orang Ulu planned their involvement in the timber industry in ways which would least disrupt important aspects of their traditional life, in particular the shifting-cultivation production of rice which is regarded as their basic 'survival kit'. Since wage employment is in direct competition with cash-crop cultivation, the consequent decline in their agricultural cash-crop economy is therefore to be expected.

Participation in the timber industry has also indirectly resulted in the degradation of their swidden land because the shortage of male labour for swidden led to the intensification of the use of fallow land close to the long-houses. But the Orang Ulu see this as a temporary problem, and of less pressing nature compared to the benefits gained from engaging in a timber industry which, as has clearly been understood, will be operating only temporarily.

This response to innovation clearly demonstrates that the penetration and introduction of outside systems can be used to strengthen tribal cultures. Many South-East Asian tribes are capable of accommodating and even insulating their cultures from excessive outside influence. In the Philippines, Keesing (1962) noted how the lowland Filipinos frequently escaped Spanish repression by moving to the mountains. This response is still used. Internal colonialization from both national and international sources has continued to push or force small tribal groups into marginal areas (Atal and Bennagen, 1983; Eder, 1987). Others have used more subtle means. In his brilliantly written book, Weapons of the Weak, Scott (1985) described how the small-scale paddy farmers in Kedah, in one of the main paddy-cultivation areas of Malaysia, succeeded in expressing their grievances and opposition to certain government development policies by using the 'foot-dragging' method of silent protest. The same is also true of many other tribal groups.

The indigenous socio-economic system: Is it sustainable?

While asserting the ability of many threatened peoples to adapt, and stressing the resilience of their traditional economic systems in handling many external influences, it still has to be asked whether the traditional system by itself can, in the light of continued pressure from outside as well as from within the society, provide tribal groups with a sustainable future. While indigenous skills could be an appropriate starting point for trying to improve technologies suitable for tribal societies, there is also evidence which suggests that not all indigenous resource-use practices are ecologically and environmentally sound. Increased population pressure on land resources, increased dependency on a commercial economy, and demand for cash incomes have brought about environmentally destructive changes in native resource-use patterns.

This is most evident in one of the principal traditional agricultural systems- swidden agriculture, which is frequently portrayed in modern environmental literature as ecologically sound. While it was indeed so in the past, all evidence in South-East Asia suggests that population density is a key variable in the sustainability of the swidden system (Cramb, 1978; Dove, 1981; Spencer, 1966). The maintenance of an adequate long fallow period-the critical basis for sustainability-depends on a sufficiently low man-land ratio. But in South-East Asia, even in the sparsely populated island of Borneo, there are only a few regions, especially agriculturally suitable areas, where such a situation still prevails. In other words, the assumption of socio-economic and environmental equilibrium in tribal societies is gradually becoming a misplaced notion. Economically, this is partly exemplified by changing land-use patterns, especially the pattern of a mixture of subsistence and commercial agriculture in place of swidden, which by the early 1990s characterizes the rural cultural landscape of large parts of South-East Asia.

This is still more true of economies with minimal involvement in agriculture, and reliance principally on wild or semi-sown food sources, and on the hunting and fishing of wildlife. A low population density is an essential part of the environment of such a system. The whole problem will therefore be illustrated here with reference to the situation observed among one of the now more famous tribal communities in South-East Asia-the Penan of Sarawak, who, as claimed in much recent writing (for example, Hong, 1987; INSAN, 1989; Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 1990), are still practicing an economic system which is ecologically in balance with the environment. It is proposed, especially by many environmentalists, that the best way to ensure a sustainable future for the Penan is to maintain their traditional way of life as a nomadic tribe.

The penan and the timber blockade

The Penan have attracted global attention since 1987 through their blockade of timber roads. In general, however, outsiders' perceptions of the Penan tend to differ from the actual situation. Despite all the changes that have occurred, most current descriptions of the Penan still tend to follow the ethnographic models: an isolated society hitherto unaffected by or not interested in interacting with the outside world; self-sufficient and contented with their traditional way of life even to the extent that they are not interested in any worldly possessions from the outside. While these notions may fit some pre-1960 Penan communities, it is no longer the case in over 90 per cent of the current Penan societies concerned. There is no doubt, of course, that the Penan everywhere in Borneo are economically the most backward.

In 1987, the Penan embarked on large-scale blockade of timber roads in the Baram district of Sarawak, one of the main logging areas in the state. A number of reasons have been put forward to explain the blockade. Prominent among these is the destabilization of the traditional economic systems of the Penan, principally the destruction of their food resources as a result of the timber industry. Some research tends to support this contention. In Sarawak, one group of studies which specifically focused on the impact of logging on wildlife found a significant reduction in the number and diversity of resident species and a decline in meat harvest from logged areas (Bennett, 1982; Caldecott, 1986; Caldecott and Nyaoi, 1985). But the Penan do not hunt all types of wildlife for food, and the studies did not examine the impact on those types of wildlife important to them as food resources.

The timber industry was also blamed for the depletion of the most important food resource-upland sago palm, the Penan's traditional staple. Here again, much of the argument was based on assumptions. Does logging destroy the traditional food resources of the Penan? While logging is a factor, the impact is largely indirect. The damage to the sago clumps resulted mainly from the exploitation of the sago shoots by local timber workers for whom they are a delicacy. Ongoing research by the author suggests that the damage caused by the felling of trees is minimal, for the main reason that most of the sago clumps are found in terrain which is difficult to log.

The depletion of sago and other jungle resources is not confined to areas affected by the logging industry. It also occurs in areas inhabited by semi-settled and settled Penan and which are not affected by logging. In fact, the situation is very serious in areas where the Penan have changed to a settled life. The communities in the Tinjar region, for instance, have experienced a shortage of wild sago since the mid-1960s, long before the emergence of the timber industry. Indeed, this scarcity was a main factor behind their decision to settle and cultivate, a factor which is also observed among Penan groups elsewhere.

The depletion of this traditional natural source of food supply is to a large extent caused by changes taking place within the society rather than being the direct consequence of external interference. These changes include a rapid rate of population growth among the Penan since the 1960s. as their region has become more accessible to medical facilities and there arose competition for food resources with other tribal groups who also began to expand into the interior as their population increased.

Moreover, the Penan themselves moved downriver and, as they settled and adopted farming, the unit of production changed from being largely communal to one now based on the household. An important consequence of this settlement is the competition for food resources even among the members of each community. This is because many modern-day Penan males are actively engaged in cashearning activities; thus, limiting the period in a year allocated for food production. This has caused considerable pressure on the limited stock of sago palm as each farmer tries to produce as much as possible during the short period set aside. As with other, and earlier, blockades of timber roads, the Penan defence of their actions is as much related to a desire to obtain a larger share in the benefits, as it is to preservation of the forest.

The case of the Penan is not an isolated example. Fujisaka (1986: 4) identified similar trends among some tribal communities in the Philippines; for example, among his main findings, he notes that 'increasing competition for resources within and among groups and greater pressures on resources and ecosystems sustainability accompany the population increases'.

There are many other internal changes which have significant impact on the traditional food resources of the Penan. The gradual depletion of traditional food sources is, to some extent, the result of transformations within the society- the result of changing needs and aspirations. The above findings directly question the model which calls for the deployment of the traditional social and economic systems as the means to safeguard the society and to provide it with a sustainable form of livelihood. If the proposal is interpreted largely within the narrow perspective of their old production system, it is clear that it will not solve the economic problems that are currently faced in the early 1990s.

The sustainability of the old system rests on following very rigid prescriptions: namely, a small population and low population growth; high land-man ratio; and a nomadic lifestyle. In 1990, over 95 per cent of the Penan had settled down. Present-day Penan, especially the younger generation, are not interested in their traditional way of life for various reasons. As Langub (1990) observed, it is only the older generation who still cherish the traditional way of life. The younger generation has been too deeply encapsulated into the modern economy to be able to survive under the traditional systems.

Clearly, therefore, the ability of the traditional system to sustain the Penan culturally, socially, economically and environmentally into the twenty-first century is highly questionable. The cost of not injecting some elements of the modern social and economic systems and development into Penan society could be disastrous in the long run. This does not deny the fact that certain aspects of the tribal culture can be used as a guide towards a more sustainable form of social and economic development. As Lian (1987) has argued in regard to the development strategy of the Kenyah, the better path is to build on an existing foundation instead of adopting a totally new form of social and economic structure, and to direct cash-earning activities towards a specific socioeconomic objective. In this way, there is hope of reducing the degree of 'economic shock' when a particular type of cash-earning activity comes to an end. In the case of the approaching end of the timber industry, Lian (1987: 199-200) concludes:

There is no doubt that living standards will drop. First to go will be items like the television sets, now commonly owned ... where it is possible to receive television transmission. Except for those with electric generators, most of the refrigerators too will be useless. Shortage or difficulty in earning cash will cause fewer people to use bigger outboard engines unless necessary.... But outboard engines will be one durable that will be sustained as they are currently one of the most important measures of living standards among the Kenyah. The ability of the Kenyah to prevent a significant drop from their current standard of living depends on their ability to adapt. However, the expected event is not completely new to the Kenyah. This will be the second time.... Another vital consideration is the Kenyah perception of the industry as essentially a transient economic 'bonus'. There is evidence to show that the Kenyah are already adapting to prepare for this eventuality.

On the other hand, the traditional economic systems of the Kenyah would not be able to resolve their long-term economic problems, especially their objective of keeping abreast with their neighbours, or to sustain their present level of economic achievement. For these, they will have to rely on outside sources. There is no doubt, for instance, that development in social fields such as education is vital if the Kenyah hope to live beyond the level of bare subsistence; steps are being taken towards this end. Kenyah parents now encourage some of their children to work in the urban areas.

Responses to the problems of the threatened peoples of south-east Asia

South-East Asian governments have employed various means to solve the problems faced by the impoverished sections of their countries. For those in the rural areas, the solutions involve a wide range from 'quick fix' measures to patient assistance. The former include the relocation of traditional subsistence farmers and tribal people into resettlement projects which have been established throughout the region, and the creation of reserves for some remote tribal communities such as the Orang Asli reserves in Peninsular Malaysia. The latter entail various informal forms of social and economic assistance, and giving tribal people or social groups some form of autonomy over their affairs, as has happened in the Philippines.

Most South-East Asian countries have also created agencies responsible for administering the affairs of tribal people and other weaker social groups, such as the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (Aborigines Affairs Department) in Peninsular Malaysia and the Office of the Presidential Assistant on National Minorities (PANAMIN) in the Philippines. Unfortunately, these agencies were, in most cases, created more out of government concern for some broader national issues rather than the problems of these weaker and vulnerable societies. Both agencies mentioned above were created to safeguard national security; they are not efforts geared largely towards improving the livelihood of the societies concerned. In most cases, these are 'front agencies' with 'tribal tags' to justify activities undertaken by the government. It is not surprising that very few, if any, of these bodies have been successful in enhancing the economy, and winning the desired co-operation of the threatened people involved. Even after a few decades of its existence, during which it was allocated millions of dollars in funds, the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli has had little success in improving the economic well-being of the people it was established to assist (Jinnin, 1987).

The Orang Asli communities remain the most impoverished in Malaysia, poorer even than the tribal societies of Sabah and Sarawak, who did not receive nor were given such concerted attention. Apart from Malaysia, where the achievement of some of its landdevelopment projects is fairly impressive both in the social and economic fields, this cannot be said for many similar efforts carried out in the regions affected by the transmigration programme in Indonesia, especially those in Kalimantan.

These projects and agencies, however, did achieve some of the desire,d objectives of the government, especially those for which they were specifically targeted. The creation of the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli contributed in some ways to the success in fighting the Communist insurgency in Peninsular Malaysia. Unfortunately, most of the blame for the failure of such development projects was directed at the poor groups themselves. While it is true that many development projects failed due to the lack of co-operation from poor rural communities, there are strong reasons for such responses. In almost all cases, rural groups were not consulted or involved in the planning, implementation and administration of projects which directly interfered with their livelihood. Many schemes are also based more on the perceptions and aspirations of outside planners than those of the rural communities.

This is also true of urban squatters. Singapore aside, only Malaysia has shown some credibility in handling problems faced by these people. This might be related to the fact that Malaysian cities, even Kuala Lumpur, are smaller in population size than other SouthEast Asian cities. Even so, the situation is gradually changing as Malaysian cities expand and start to encompass surrounding rural areas which are now integrated into the urban social and economic system.

How should the threatened peoples be assisted? Broadly, two theories exist in the literature, especially with respect to tribal communities. The first approach is the 'idealist' one; an idea mooted as early as 1872 by Joseph Kaines, and which is favoured especially by environmentalists and those championing the rights of the various threatened groups. The concept proposes that tribal people and related groups should be left alone. The creation of 'tribal sanctuaries' and biosphere reserves, which have won United Nations (UN) support since 1970 in the form of the UN Biosphere Reserves programme is one practical manifestation of this ideology.

The second approach is the 'realist' one, which argues that tribal peoples cannot survive in seclusion. They cannot be left alone. They need some form of external assistance to upgrade their quality of life. This approach considers the demise of some aspects of tribal culture as inevitable. It is a concept which is more acceptable to bureaucrats and politicians.

Both ideologies have specific merits, and both have been employed in the region, though frequently not together. This in itself indicates another dimension of the issue of addressing problems related to threatened peoples everywhere; that is, the solution to their problems is constrained by the self-interest of others, including, unfortunately, academics on whom falls the responsibility of finding the answers. In this as in other regions of the Third World, many experts dealing with this subject have recommended the employment of traditional socio-economic systems as alternative means of improving and sustaining the economy, livelihood and culture of indigenous people. The rationale and merit of the idea rest on the recognition that the traditional systems are environmentally friendly and have succeeded in fulfilling the needs of these societies for centuries. This argument is found in many current works (for example, Bodley, 1990; Paul Richards, 1985).

Is this approach a viable alternative? Based on the preceding analysis, it is imperative that until the term 'traditional' is clearly defined; until the core (primary) can be identified and separated from the secondary (and less important) attributes of traditional culture; and until at least the important undercurrents within the societies involved, and numerous other related issues, are fully understood, the 'populist' approach will remain only an avenue for theorizing. It is no doubt a very romantic concept. However, traditional systems are sustainable only under some very rigid conditions: demographic, social and economic. Even in the case of the Penan (including the nomadic groups), its validity is doubtful. Indigenous socio-economic systems in themselves are very dynamic, as was seen among the Orang Ulu. Such dynamism was essential in order to contain exploitation by the more advanced socioeconomic groups.

Moreover, if threatened peoples are to be able to compete with, and to avoid being dominated by, the relatively advanced outside communities, it is essential that they should learn and understand at least the basic mechanisms of the socio-economic systems of these outside groups. It is only with this knowledge that they could develop some form of defensive or offensive strategies. There are aspects of the traditional societies which could be used to resolve some of the modern problems faced by these vulnerable groups in the region, and which could be 'married' with some modern systems as an alternative development strategy, provided that indigenous peoples can participate in the planning and management of their own welfare, and incorporate more of their perceptions and aspirations of development.


This chapter has provided a general overview of some of the major environmental and developmental issues related to the threatened peoples of South-East Asia, and to the tribal peoples of the region in particular. While some of the problems are group-specific, there are other aspects that are common to all threatened groups. Attention has been drawn to the complexities of the issues. The problems faced are not solely the result of external interference and influence, equally important are dynamic changes taking place within the society. Evidence from the region suggests that the selective utilization of technologies from the 'outside' has been very effective in upgrading the livelihood and the economy of many tribal peoples. A 'marriage' of the two systems is probably the most sound strategy and there are many areas where this could be done. Some form of modernity is required, at least to assist all threatened peoples in coping with modern-day living.

Finally, an unfortunate truism in the region is that public interest in the threatened peoples emerged less from a concern to improve their livelihood than from a realization that environmental and economic problems created by development also impact on the environment outside the habitat of the threatened peoples themselves. Upland deforestation and ecological degradation affect the downriver modern communities, and the health hazard in slums and squatter areas spreads to wider urban populations. Regional government and development agencies may be interested in involving upland communities by granting them a stake in resource-management and preservation programmes. However, threatened peoples cannot wait for a solution from the outside and are probably not prepared to be the object for experimentation; a little regarded consideration which partly explains their so-called 'resistance' to new development projects.

  1. The 'upriver' or inland people-in Sarawak, meaning mainly the indigenous people of eastern Sarawak-are distinct from the more numerous Iban. Bidayuh and other groups in the centre and west of the state.
  2. Editorial footnote: The sago palm used by the Penan is Engeissona utilise a species limited to Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia (Ruddle et al., 1978). Its use by the Penan was first described by Beccari ( 1904: 307) as common in the forest, and who stressed that it did not produce a large amount of starch. Engeissona occurs in large clumps, supported on aerial roots. sometimes around springs and along spring-lines, as at the loot of an escarpment. When it is harvested, only a few trunks at a time can be taken from each clump, in order to allow the palm to resprout (Brosius, 19863.

Sustainability of indigenous socio-economic systems

Editorial comment


LIAN'S chapter raises important questions about the sustainability, especially the environmental sustainability, of socio-economic systems. For some years now, but especially since the late 1980s, the fate of certain groups in South-East Asia has captivated the attention of concerned interest groups, and even governments, all over the world. Lian, as a 'native ethnographer', has collected a great deal of empirical material bearing on these problems, material which itself-in addition to his own discussion of theoretical questions surrounding the topic-helps answer what has become a critical question: what is a sustainable socio-economic system?

Lian puts this question in context. In each of the South-East Asian countries, there is tremendous variation between sections of the population, and between different areas and ethnic groups. Some segments of South-East Asian societies are tremendously rich while others continue to struggle far below national poverty lines. Though development projects multiply each year, they often threaten the existence of many communities. There appears to be a big question mark regarding the very future of these communities. Are there ways in which governments have correctly addressed the issue, and have the 'solutions' devised made things any better? The thrust of Lian's analysis lies in his observations on the tribal groups among the many disadvantaged socioeconomic groups; he considers them to have become the most marginalized in the region.

These tribal communities are often under threat because they rely on the immediate environment for a substantial proportion of their subsistence, yet these same e