Second successive symposium on industrial tree plantation in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A second symposium on Industrial Tree Plantation (ITP) will be held in Sabah following the success of the first event on July 7.

The Borneo Forestry Cooperative (BFC) will organise the follow-up event entitled “Better Plantations for Higher Returns”, which will include a forestry open day, in Sabah’s east coast Tawau district from Aug 10 to 11.

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.

Some 100 participants from Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula are expected to attend the first day of the symposium, to be held at Borneo Royale Hotel, which will include presentations from universities, local practitioners and international speakers.

The guest speakers from Australia, Malaysia and Taiwan will discuss economic, social and operational implications of tropical industrial tree plantations in Borneo.

Delegates will subsequently spend a day in the plantation at Sabah Softwoods Berhad (SSB) in Brumas, Tawau where participants will visit a commercial Eucalyptus clonal nursery and plantation stands.

“Wood is emerging as the sustainable material of the future for many consumer products,” said the BFC in a statement.

It added that the most productive industrial tree plantations will use the world’s-best land stewardship and silvicultural practices and utilise genetically improved germplasm, including hybrids, bred for Sabah’s environment.

The BFC had organised the first symposium called “Develolping Resilient Industrial Tree Plantations in Sabah: Forestry Pests and Diseases” here last month.

The BFC said in order for the ITP to become one of the major contributors to Sabah’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an economic value chain must exist that connects resources to processing, and in turn processing to the market.

The cooperative added that the Sabah government has made its intentions clear, to see forestry once again as one of the major contributors to the state’s GDP.

“Its Action Plan on Forest Plantation Development 2022-2026 outlines ambitious planting, log production and employment targets.

“Understanding the connectivity of the forest resource, market directions and processing options come together to add value to the forest industry.

“The challenge facing the ITP industry is in creating a parallel but different sustainable timber supply chain-driven industry that transforms the future wood-based industry in Sabah,” the BFC said.

This will not only create a reliable homogeneous supply of wood, the cooperative added, but will also relieve the pressure on the rainforests of Sabah.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had previously called on all the timber players in the state to transform the industry by focusing on the establishment of an economic value chain (EVC) concept which will integrate both the upstream and downstream sectors.

He noted that through the Forest Plantation Development Action Plan 2022-2036 that was launched last March 22, the state government targeted to develop 400,000ha of forest plantations in the commercial forest reserve areas in the next 15 years.

This, he said, would have produced between six and eight million cubic metres of timber harvested from forest plantations each year, ensuring a sufficient and sustainable supply of the raw material for the timber industry while relieving pressure off the natural forests in Sabah.

Hajiji said this will potentially contribute some RM11.5bil to Sabah’s GDP while also creating 40,000 job opportunities and further expanding the timber processing industry.

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