The slow pace of achieving the target of having one million hectares of forests replanted by 2020 may force Sarawak to open the door to the development of Licensed Planted Forests (LPF) to foreign participation.
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Sudarsono Osman said only about 30 per cent of the target had been met.
He was speaking at a Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation’s industry forum yesterday.
He said priority for the job would always be given to locals, but as the locals showed lukewarm interest, the government would be forced to consider other options.
Sudarsono urged the licensees to fulfil their obligation to plant the forest plantations.
“With the current low level of achievement of planted forest and declining supply of raw materials from the natural forest, the forest plantation sector should be given top priority for the survival of the timber industry.”
He said it was the policy of the Sarawak government to encourage the establishment of tree plantations to sustain timber resources and relieve the pressure of natural forest.
Sudarsono said if the target of 1 million hectare of LPF was achieved, the supply of raw material from them would be 15 million cubit metres - more than enough to meet the current installed capacity of the primary industry of 12 million cubit metres annually.
Last year, Sarawak produced 9.6 million cubic metres of logs from natural forests, which Sudarsono pointed out was insufficient to meet the requirements of the domestic industry.
Out of that total production, 3.1 million cubic metres were exported while the rest was for domestic use.
Hii Tow Peck, the senior assistant director of the Forest Plantation and Reforestation Division of the Forest Department, in his paper presented at the forum, said the planted forests were needed to sustain timber supply, complement the production of timber from natural forests and rehabilitate degraded and shifting cultivation areas.
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