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Posts tagged Southeast Asia

Environmental Threats to Lesser Sunda Islands

8.6S 121.0E

May 22nd, 2012 Category: Snapshots

Indonesia - May 20th, 2012

This image shows several of the Lesser Sunda Islands, a group of islands in the southern Maritime Southeast Asia, north of Australia. The three largest islands visible here are Sumba, Flores and Timor (lower half of image, from left to right). The islands are part of a volcanic arc, the Sunda Arc, formed by subduction along the Java Trench in the Java Sea.

Although most of the vegetation on these islands is dry forest there are patches of rainforest on these islands too, especially in lowland areas and along riverbanks. However, the ecosystem is threatened: more than half of the original vegetation of the islands has been cleared for planting of rice and other crops, for settlement and by consequent forest fires.

While many ecological problems affect both small islands and large landmasses, small islands suffer their particular problems and are highly exposed to external forces. Development pressures on small islands are increasing, although their effects are not always anticipated. Although Indonesia is richly endowed with natural resources, the resources of the small islands of Nusa Tenggara are limited and specialised; furthermore human resources in particular are limited.

Indonesian Island of Sumatra and Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia

1.7N 102.3E

May 11th, 2010 Category: Vegetation Index

Malaysia - April 28th, 2010

Malaysia - April 28th, 2010

This FAPAR image shows the Indonesian island of Sumatra (below) and part of Malaysia on the lower end of the Malay Peninsula, although the entire peninsula including parts of Thailand and Myanmar is visible after opening the full version.

Most of the land appears green to red, indicating good to high levels of photosynthetic activity. Only a few areas appear yellow, indicating a low vegetation index.

Sumatra supports a wide range of vegetation types which are home to a rich variety of species, including 17 endemic genera of plants. The island has lost 48% of its natural forest cover since 1985, however, and many of the remaining species are endangered.

Hazy Skies and Fires Near the Tonlé Sap in Southeast Asia

April 28th, 2010 Category: Fires, Lakes

Cambodia and Thailand - March 5th, 2010

Cambodia and Thailand - March 5th, 2010

This image of Southeast Asia includes parts of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Upon opening the full image, some fires are visible southwest of the  Tonlé Sap, a large lake in Cambodia. Some smoky haze from other fires in the region can also be observed in the upper left quadrant.

The Tonlé Sap, appearing tan and green from sediments, here, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, occupying a large depression. It is part of a combined lake and river system that is particular in that its flow changes direction twice a year.

Southeast Asia Showing a Generally Good Vegetation Index

16.0N 102.8E

April 9th, 2010 Category: Vegetation Index

Thailand - March 5th, 2010

Thailand - March 5th, 2010

This FAPAR image shows parts of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia (counterclockwise from upper right) in southeast Asia. Areas of low photosynthetic activity appear yellow, those with good activity green, and those with high activity red.

The majority of the image appear green, thus indicating a good vegetation index. A high index can be observed in places along the coast of Vietnam, peninsular Thailand, and a few other areas.

Much of the center of Thailand, dominated by the Chao Phraya river valley, has a lower index, appearsing yellow to light green in color. Areas in Cambodia around the Tonlé Sap Lake change abruptly from a good to a very low, whitish yellow index.

Vegetation Index of Sulawesi Peninsulas and Maluku Islands, Indonesia

April 4th, 2010 Category: Vegetation Index

Indonesia - March 5th, 2010

Indonesia - March 5th, 2010

This FAPAR image of part of Indonesia shows areas of the island of Sulawesi (also known as Celebes) to the left and some of the Maluku Islands to the right and center.

Sulawesi has four principal peninsulas, two of which can be seen here. Minahassa Peninsula, center left, stretches north from the central part of the island, before turning to the east and forming the northern boundary of the Gulf of Tomini.
The East Peninsula, lower left quadrant, stretches east from the central part of the island, forming the southern boundary of the Gulf of Tomini.

The central part of the island is ruggedly mountainous, such that the island’s peninsulas have traditionally been remote from each other, with better connections by sea than by road.

The lowland forests on the island are, unfortunately, almost gone. Because of the relative geological youth of the island and its dramatic and sharp topography, the lowland areas are naturally limited in their extent.

The island also possesses one of the largest outcrops of serpentine soil in the world, which support an unusual and large community of specialized plant species. Overall, however, the flora and fauna of this unique center of global biodiversity is very poorly documented and understood and remains critically threatened.

Moving east, the Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas, Moluccan Islands, the Spice Islands) are an archipelago in Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Most of the islands are mountainous, some with active volcanoes, and enjoy a wet climate.

The vegetation of the small and narrow islands, encompassed by the sea, is very luxuriant; including rainforests, sago, rice and the famous spices – nutmeg, cloves and mace, among others.

Despite the aforementioned disappearance of the lowland forests on Sulawesi and the presence of luxurious rainforest on the Maluku Islands, Sulawesi shows a higher index of photosynthetic activity here, appearing more red than green.