Journal of
Geography and Regional Planning

  • Abbreviation: J. Geogr. Reg. Plann.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2070-1845
  • DOI: 10.5897/JGRP
  • Start Year: 2008
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

Upper basin systems: Issues and implications for sustainable development planning in Malaysia

  Khairulmaini Osman Salleh1* and Fauza Ab Ghaffar2  
Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 02 September 2010
  •  Published: 30 November 2010



The continuing demand for environmental resources in Malaysia in the next few decades of this century suggests the need for formulating, planning and the implementation of river basin development plans or programmes which is going to be even more complex in the future than it has been in the past. Complex socio-economic-ecological systems interact within the river basins and are affected by social, political and economic pressures from outside. Environmental impacts such as increased slope erosion, mass movements, sediment yield and decreasing water quality may be expected in the continuous development of the basin, and result from deliberate or inadvertent causes – the latter may be long-term and insidious. Basin managers, planners and administrators must recognize the potential risks of activity within the river basins; such risks vary (that is the impacts become magnified at certain times and in certain localities within the basins). Land clearing activities on the valley slopes especially for farming, urbanization, settlement and infrastructural development have created tremendous impact on the natural system dynamics of the river basins and its adjoining valley slopes and channel systems. In Malaysia new frontiers of development are needed to appease the voracious appetite of the development process and this would lead to the encroachment of more fragile and very sensitive ecosystems such as the upper basins of the major river systems in the country. Upper basin farming has been identified as one of the main reasons for the soil erosion and landslides in many of the major upper basin systems in Malaysia. This paper addresses the issues and challenges affecting environmental resource development in upper basin systems in Malaysia and the need for a comprehensive and holistic outlook towards drainage basin management in upper basin systems. This is because these regions are also new frontiers of development, which to a major extent creates tremendous impact on the highly sensitive high energy ecosystems of the basins.


Key words: Cameron highland regions, upper basin systems, highland regions, environmental degradation, sustainable management systems.