Chapter 15. A Short Tour of the Eastern Forests

This 2016 piece by Jason Daley, ‘Laser Scans Reveal Massive Khmer Cities Hidden in the Cambodian Jungle’, tells more of recent research findings into the medieval Khmer empire.

Asian forest foods

More on the origin of tea from Zhang et al. 2012 ‘Determination of the geographical origin of Chinese teas based on stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios’
The origin of citrus fruit species being identified as Australia is examined by Dopazo et al. in the 2015 paper ‘Evolutionary history of citrus revealed by most comprehensive study to date’

For more background on the domestication of bananas in Papua New Guinea and nearby islands see Lentfer 2009, ‘Tracing Domestication and Cultivation of Bananas from Phytoliths: An update from Papua New Guinea’

Rice timber and palm oil

According to Sist et al. 2003 it is possible to log a dipterocarp forest sustainably, so long as simple rules are applied. See “Sustainable Cutting Cycle and Yields in a Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forest of Borneo”

For a wider discussion about the impacts of logging see this 2012 piece by Mongabay founder Rhett Butler

A history of how Japan’s demand for wood affected the Asian rainforests can be found in F. Nectoux and Y. Kuroda, Timber from the South Seas: An Analysis of Japan’s Tropical Timber Trade and Its Environmental Impact (Gland, Switzerland: WWF International, 1989). 

For an overview of what’s happening to the rainforests of Indochina, see Yale’s Daniel Drollette’s 2013 overview ‘A plague of Deforestation Sweeps Across Southeast Asia’ here

For a more specific view on the situation in the Mekong River catchment, see this 2013 WWF report, ‘Ecosystems in the Greater Mekong: Current Status, Past Trends, Possible Futures’.

The rapidity of peat forest loss in Indonesia is documented by Miettinen et al. in their 2011 paper ‘Two decades of destruction in Southeast Asia's peat swamp forests.’

Borneo: the Penan

I mention in relation to the story of the Penan people the very rapid loss of rainforests in Sarawak. For source material on that see Bryan, J.E. et al, (2013) ‘Extreme Differences in Forest Degradation in Borneo: Comparing Practises in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei’


This 1997 paper, ‘Transmigration in Indonesia: Lessons from Its Environmental and Social Impacts’, by Rainforest expert Philip Fearnside concludes that ‘Indonesia’s transmigration program… has high environmental, social, and financial costs, while doing little towards relieving population pressure on Java. Transmigration has been an important cause of forest loss’

Thailand and Cambodia

The Global Witness investigation that I mention into the links between civil war and the pressures on Cambodia’s forests can be found here

Queensland deforestation

The history and extent of deforestation in Australia is covered in this 2012 paper by Corey Bradshaw ‘Little left to lose: deforestation and forest degradation in Australia since European colonization’.

New Guinea land rights

For an overview of the context for rainforest conservation in Papua New Guinea see this 2013 CIFOR paper by Babon and Gowae, ‘The Context of REDD+ in Papua New Guinea Drivers, agents and institutions’.

More on the expedition to the Foja Mountains can be found in this 2006 piece from National Geographic, ‘”Lost World” Found in Indonesia Is Trove of New Species”.

Regarding the Conservation International expedition to the mountains of New Britain, see this piece published by Mongabay ‘200 new species discovered in 60 day expedition in New Guinea’.

Concerning recent legal threats to the land rights of tribal peoples in New Guinea see this 2010 article published by Mongabay ‘Papua New Guinea strips communal land rights protections, opening door to big business’