The future of Sarawak timber industry will depend very much on its planted forest development programmed said chief minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud. He said industry players must recognized the fact that there is a growing need to relieve the pressure on natural forests.

Taib center flanked from left by Naroden, Tengah, Jabu, Wan Alwi and Len Latif
cutting the Sarawak Forestry Corporatin 5th Anniversary cake. (Photo Johnathan Bullet)

Such relief could only be provided by planted forest, therefore the state must not slacken in the development of its planted forest sector.

Taib said his main worry is the speed at which planted forest sector in the state is developing.

“We are a bit slow in planted forest development.

“We can’t allow it to fall too far behind,” he added when officiating Sarawak’s Forestry 5th anniversay dinner in Kuching on Friday night.

“If the planted forest development is too far behind, I may have to make sure that we still can go ahead with the planted forest programme even if we have to look for the money to develop it ourselves,” Taib added.

The planted forest programme was initiated by the federal government but apparently it had not been developed at a satisfactory rate.

The chief minister who is also Sarawak Forestry Corporation chairman said the state government was ready not only to look for money but also took over the development of the planted forest sector as a whole.

“The planted forest is our salvation. We must improve our position because we now reach a stage where we are (due to sustainability factor) only allowed to harvest around one million cubic metres of logs annually from from the natural forest,” stressed Taib.

According to Taib, trees from the state’s planted forest can grow 10 times faster than natural forest.

“That means by 2020 we would be able to develop one million hectares of planted forest.

“Then we are able to produce more wood from our planted forest than our natural forest even though planted forest area only cover 20 percent of Sarawak’s forest,” he said.

Taib said if one million hectares were fully planted, it could yield 15 million cubic metres per year, hence relieving the pressure on tropical hardwood forest.

*Churchill Edward (BP) contribute to this report and edited by Bintulu.Org