KUCHING: Ta Ann Holdings Bhd has sharply raised the harvesting of logs from its planted forest for downstream processing activities.
According to group managing director Datuk Wong Kuo Hea, (pic) the group increased the harvesting of plantation logs by 46% to 30,917 cubic meters (cu m) last year from 21,122 cu m in 2019.
“With well-planned timber resource management, our group managed to supplement the shortfall in log supply from natural forests with plantation logs, contributing 13% of the total log production in financial year ended Dec 31,2020 (FY20), ” he said.
Ta Ann recorded a 23% drop in log production volume from natural forests to 206,879 cu m last year from 268,911 cu m in 2019. The group exported 95,118 cu m of logs last year, 82% of which went to buyers in India and the remaining to Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam.
The group has three Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)-certificate forest management units (FMUs) in the Rejang basin in central Sarawak, covering a total area of 346,021 hectares (ha), or 92% of the group total timber concession.
Ta Ann is one of Sarawak’s pioneers in forest plantation projects and the company has, through its own research and development division, developed an improved species - acacia mangium superbulk - a high yield species suited for plywood manufacturing.
“Our group actively operates its forest plantation programme with the aim of establishing a renewable forest resource base. This meets the raw material requirements of our group’s downstream processing activities using fast-growing plantation timber species, ” Wong said in the company’s 2020 annual report.
Ta Ann group’s total planted forest area stood at 27,304 ha at end-2020, out of which 25,895 ha were planted with acacia mangium & acacia hybrid. Other planted timber species are kelampayang, sawi, benuang and engkabang.
Some 79% or 24,577ha of the planted acacia mangium trees have attained maturity (above 10 years) while 14% or 4,345 ha are immature (4-9 years) and the remaining 1,069 ha or 7% are young area (one to three years).
Wong said kelampayan planting in natural forest FMUs had reached 186 ha, with emphasis on quality planting and increasing stocking in efforts to rehabilitate and enhance forest stocking after sustainable forest harvesting.
Ta Ann also plants kelampayan trees along the roadside of its oil palm estates to create additional resources. The group has 13 oil palm estates covering total planted area of over 50,000 ha in Sarawak.
In 2020, the group completed the replanting of 876.5 ha of acacia mangium after the harvest of the first round planted acacia.
Wong said one of the action plan for the group’s reforestation division this year is to enhance research and development on second rotation plant nutrition, growth performance and silviculture treatment. The group is also stepping up kelampayan enrichment planting and rehabilitation in natural forests FMUs.
Reviewing the group’s plywood manufacturing business, Wong said due to the shortage of raw materials (logs), plywood production output was cut by 17% to 85,320 cu m in 2020 from 103,260 cu m in 2019.
However, plywood sales rose by 20% to 98,242 cu m from 81,800 cu m year-on-year.He attributed the higher sales to the competitive advantage of the group’s PEFC-certifiied plywood products which has allowed the group to expand its market share in Japan. About 88% of its plywood exports went to Japan and 8% to Australia.
Ta Ann group also has a plywood manufacturing operation in Tasmania.
“Moving forward, our Tasmanian operations will consolidate resources in Smithton Mill located in northern Tasmania through maximised utilisation of its production capacity.
“Smithton will be focusing on manufacturing plywood products targeting the local market instead of exporting veneer to Malaysia. With the change of business model, we expect plywood operations in Tasmania to perform better in the coming years, ” said Wong.