KUCHING: Sarawak aims to establish one million hectares of forest plantations by 2025 to provide a new source of timber for the state's wood-based industries.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said forest plantations would relieve pressure on natural forests and increase the state's forest cover to reduce the greenhouse effect.
He said this was in line with Sarawak's commitment to preserving its forests for perpetuity and conserving biodiversity.
"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," Abang Johari said.
He said this when opening an acacia webinar by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (Iufro) here on Tuesday (Oct 26).
The Chief Minister also said a high-level of expertise in research was required to support forest plantation development.
He said research was needed on alternative species for forest plantations, pest and disease resistance, wood quality, timber products and restoration of degraded land.
"As such, we welcome international collaborations to build up our research capacity in Sarawak, thus contributing to the growth of high-value, profitable plantations based on high productivity and quality," he said.
In addition, Abang Johari said the state government was keen to embark on tertiary downstream timber processing for export, particularly in large-scale manufacturing of furniture and other timber products.
In this respect, he urged the timber product manufacturing sector to re-invest and adapt their processing equipment to suit the log quality and species from planted forests.