World’s leading experts to speak in industrial tree plantation symposium in Sabah

BFC chairman David Boden.

KOTA KINABALU: Two of the world’s leading experts on tree plantation health are scheduled to speak in a symposium on Industrial Tree Plantation (ITP) here this Thursday (July 7).

To be held at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), the event themed "Developing Resilient Industrial Tree Plantations In Sabah: Forestry Pests & Diseases", will feature Prof Mike Wingfield from South Africa and Dr Simon Lawson from Australia.

Both have extensive experience in forestry tree plantation health in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

ITP is an essential industry which ensures that sectors of land are cultivated with trees in order to ensure continual wood flow that will meet increasing industry demands while conserving natural forests.

The symposium is expected to chart the course for the industry in Sabah to build a competitive edge in the wood and wood products global market.

Hosted by the Borneo Forestry Cooperative (BFC), the main objective of the symposium is the sharing of information among member companies as a way forward in developing a productive ITP industry.

This is to help them compete in the market dominated by industry giants from Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and South Africa.

"You only have to look at Brazil which has perhaps the most successful fast growing tree plantation industry in the world," said BFC chairman David Boden, in a statement on Tuesday (July 5).

"There are many large companies, perhaps 30 to 50, each with planted areas of close to 100,000ha or more, freely exchanging clones and ideas with their neighbours.

"For companies in Sabah with considerably smaller areas under ITP, our competition is not with each other but with overseas countries in the region for further afield.

"In Sabah, we need to aim at developing productive tree plantations of many hundreds of thousands of ha as only then will we be able to generate sufficient volumes to attract a range of downstream processing options," he added.

Boden said the symposium offers an opportunity to hear from the industry practitioners with experience on ITPs and to be kept up to date on the current findings of forestry pests and diseases from renowned scientists in the field.

BFC was founded in 2009 that runs programs which initially commenced with the basics of establishing breeding populations and Best Operational Practices.

It has over the years expanded to include the full range of topics from genetics to nursery, pest and diseases, harvesting, wood quality and end-use options, and to growth and financial modelling.

BFC uses specialists from countries across the globe that had a much long history with a wood industry based on ITP.

There will also be a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the BFC and Sabah Forestry Department with the objective to strengthen, promote and develop research cooperation between parties on the basis of equitable and mutual benefit.

Besides that, another objective is to promote and support productive, profitable and sustainable industrial tree plantations in Sabah through relevant research in advanced tree breeding and silvi-culture, among others.

The MoU is expected to develop and enhance the capacity of the professional forester required for the development of ITP industry in Sabah.

Boden said the ITP industry in Sabah aims to create 80,000 new jobs with the sustainable planting of 40,000ha of land annually, an annual production of eight million cubic metre of logs and ultimately contribute RM12bil to Sabah’s gross domestic product (GDP).

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