he log production volume in the country is expected to decline further as the government has tightened the implementation of sustainable forest management practices to ensure the future supply of timber resources.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said by 2007, log production had been reduced to 22.17 million cubic metres compared to 30 million cubic metres a decade ago.

He said to overcome the industry raw material supply issue,the government had aggressively embarked on several projects to explore other alternate materials.

“The government has undertaken the Forest Plantation Development Programme, where a total of 375,000 hectares of forest plantations would be established over a 15-year period,” he said at the Natural Fibre Composites seminar here.

Chin said the area is expected to yield an additional five million cubic metres of timber a year at the end of the 15 year-period.

However, he said the forest plantation initiative alone would not meet the requirements of the timber industry which at the moment has a total installed capacity of 32 million cubic metres.

“The government has begun to look at the vast potential which exists in the utilisation of agricultural residues as an alternate resource for the timber processing industry,” he added.

Given this rich agriculture resource, the timber industry has actively explored the use of fibre resources such as oil palm trunks, kenaf and other agricultural crops such as cocoa, coconut, sago and sugar cane.

He said oil palm bio-mass materials have been used in the production of pulp and paper as well as panels such as fibreboard and plywood.

“In addition, oil palm trunks are also being processed into solid lumber to be made into furniture and other timber products,” he said.

Chin added, to support the bio-composite industry, his Ministry had set up a Fibre and Bio-Composite Development Centre to assist the industry to adopt the usage of natural fibre materials in commercial production.