Sarawak eyes one million hectares of industrial forest plantations by 2025

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Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg launches the 3rd IUFRO Acacia Conference at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly in Petra Jaya, October 26, 2021. — Bernama pic
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg launches the 3rd IUFRO Acacia Conference at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly in Petra Jaya, October 26, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, Oct 26 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said the state government is aiming to establish one million hectares of industrial forests by 2025 by planting of fast-growing species.

He said Sarawak has embarked on large-scale forest cultivation as a long-term strategy to provide a new source of raw material for the wood-based industries in the state since 1996.

“Forest plantations are also hoped to relieve pressure on natural forests in the state and at the same time, increase the state’s forest cover to reduce the greenhouse effect,” he said when opening the Third International Union of Forest Research Organisation (IUFRO) acacia webinar here.

He said the state is committed to sustainability including the conservation of biodiversity and the ecosystem functions.

He said this would mean that more timber must be obtained from other sources, adding that forest plantations offer a promising source of timber.

“Intensively and sustainably managed plantations will have to play a significant role to meet the increasing demand for wood products and avoid further reduction of natural forests,” the chief minister stressed.

Abang Johari said forest plantations were also recognised as an essential part of the strategic approach for sustainable management of forest resources.

“In light of the declining trend of log production from our tropical natural forest, it is of exigent needs to increase the scale of operation and productivity of forest plantation with efficiency in order to produce sufficient quality plantation logs to offset shortage of log supply from natural forests,” the chief minister said.

Besides the products, he said forest plantation certification was crucial for a sustainable forest plantation industry.

“Certification is a tool to ensure good plantation management practices, leading to efficient harvesting and production, and help in increasing the market confidence of timber products from well-managed plantations,” he said.

The chief minister noted that there is rising global interest in planting more trees to meet growing population, overcome climate change, and cater to wood energy needs.

He said Asia has the largest area of planted forest at 135 million ha, which is about 46 per cent of the world’s total planted forest area.

“This consists of 79 million ha of plantation forests and 56 million ha of other planted forests. About 32 per cent of the total plantation forest in Asia is planted with introduced species, such as acacia, eucalyptus, falcataria and more,” he added.

He said that as a contribution to the global planted forest target, Malaysia launched the 100 million Trees Planting Campaign 2021–2025 in January 2021 as part of Greening Malaysia’s programme.

On the acacia webinar, Abang Johari hoped that it will lead to much collaboration, especially for those who are involved in the forest plantation industries.

“We in Malaysia, particularly Sarawak, are still a bit behind as compared to other Asian countries in forest plantation development,” he said, adding that research and development was a key initiative to address the gaps faced such as unavailability of high-quality planting materials, pests and disease, and species selection.

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