Malaysia recognises the importance of managing its natural resources intelligently, which includes the conservation of flora and fauna. Conserving the nation’s richly biodiverse forests and its ecosystem is a vital focus for the future, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
Malaysia’s commitment – dating back to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to maintain at least 50% of its total land area under forest cover stays true, as currently 55.3% of the country’s land area remains under forest cover.
The country has a total forested area of 18.27 million hectares, of which 10.92 million hectares are Permanent Reserve Forests (PRF) and 3.31 million hectares are totally protected areas.
Continuous efforts are being made in the interest of sustainability, conservation and environmental protection through a variety of ways that not only address current issues related to industrialisation and commercialisation of natural resources, but also help prepare for the years to come.
Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practices have been embedded in the industry’s foundation for more than a century. The harvesting of timber is strictly managed under the Selective Management System, where only a specified number of standing trees of pre-determined size per hectare are allowed to be harvested, to ensure the conservation of the forest and wildlife habitat.
SFM helps to manage the use of forest resources in a manner that meets the country’s current requirements without compromising the needs of future generations.
Malaysia, as a major producer and exporter of timber products, has made tremendous efforts to ensure that it is able to supply timber products that are sourced from sustainably managed forests.
The Malaysian Timber Council (MTC), together with the Malaysian Timber Certification Council, help spread awareness on SFM practices in the timber industry and forestry sector, as well as the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).
The MTCS is a voluntary scheme that provides independent assessment for forest management and chain of custody certification to ensure the sustainable management of Malaysia’s PRF.
Endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), there are over 5 million hectares of MTCS-PEFC certified forest in Malaysia with more than 380 PEFC Certificate for Chain of Custody (CoC) holders nationwide producing and exporting certified timber products to meet international demand.
All MTCS certified timber products carry the PEFC label, which provides assurance that the products are manufactured from sustainably sourced timber.
The CoC certification is a process of evaluating and tracking wood products from certified forest to the point of sale to ensure the certified origin of the products. The CoC procedure depicts the chain of accountability for the timber product at every stage of the production process, beginning with the forest and ending with the consumer, whereby the chain is fully traceable.
For long-term viability of the timber industry, an assured supply of timber is required. Proactive measures are being implemented to establish forest plantations that will provide a steady timber supply for the usage of wood-based industries, thus alleviating pressure on natural forests. A total of 130,000 hectares of forest plantations have been targeted to be established under the Forest Plantation Development Programme between 2006 and 2020.
The RM500mil revolving fund for the Forest Plantation Development Loan programme under Budget 2021 will boost efforts to provide an alternative source of raw material supply for the timber industry. To encourage the private sector to participate and contribute to such efforts, MTC’s Import Assistance Programme supports the timber industry in importing planting materials such as seedlings and plantlets to establish forest plantations of fast-growing tree species including Eucalyptus as an alternative for sustainable timber supply in the future.
A fast-growing tree species that grows in six years and produces heavy and durable wood, Eucalyptus has been planted in several areas across Malaysia for several decades due to its potential as a high-quality raw material for energy, essential oil, pulp, paper and wood-based industries in general.