Sabah reaches 41% target to develop forest plantations

NABAWAN: Sabah has reached 41.3% of the target to develop 400,000ha of forest plantations under commercial forest reserve areas by 2036.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said as of June this year, forest plantations developed by Sustainable Forest Management Licence Agreement (SFMLA) licence holders were at 165,198ha.

“This is about 41.3% of the 400,000ha target,” he said during a working visit to Jawala Plantation Industries Sdn Bhd base camp, which is a SFMLA licence holder operating at the Sapulut Forest Reserve here on Monday (July 25).

Hajiji commended Jawala Plantation Industries for their achievements so far, which he said should be emulated by other SFMLA licence holders.

“I was informed that Jawala Plantation Industries has developed 2,237ha or 21.7% of the 10,294ha zoned for forest plantation development, to date since 2018.

“Sapulut Forest Development meanwhile has developed 20,969ha or 95% of the forest plantation zone (21,970ha).

“These two are the type of achievement that should become examples and become a benchmark for all SFMLA licence holders in developing forest plantations in Sabah,” he said.

Hajiji added that the forest plantation development strategy was to reduce the downstream timber sector’s dependency on virgin forests for raw material, while maintaining the sector’s competitiveness in future.

The formation of forest plantations in Sabah was expected to provide between six and eight million cubic metres of logs through the harvesting of 40,000ha of forest plantations annually, he added.

“This will ensure sufficient and sustainable raw material supply to the timber industry, with the potential of contributing about RM11.5bil to Sabah’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), providing 40,000 jobs, and further expanding the timber processing sector,” he said.

In line with that, Hajiji also called on state timber players to transform the industry by adopting the economic value chain (EVC) concept, which combines both the upstream and downstream production sectors.

He said the forestry upstream and downstream processing had been stand-alone sectors all this while, meaning upstream products did not fully match the downstream demand.

“With the EVC concept, these production lines are integrated and will increase productivity at a larger scale,” he added.

In conjunction with the visit to the Sapulut Forest Reserve, another 1,000 trees were planted.

Hajiji also launched the company’s nursery which supports its one million per annum tree planting programme at Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd, and which will be the resource input for the EVC.

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