Malaysia, which has the world's largest area of certified tropical forest at five million ha, exports between 6,000 and 7,000 cu m of certified timber products a month.
Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) chief executive officer Chew Lye Teng said the main certified timber products exported were sawn timber, mouldings, laminated finger-jointed timber and plywood.
As of March, a total cumulative of 463,731 cu m of certified timber products had been exported to 22 countries mainly in Europe.
Chew said in a paper on Timber Certification: Opportunities and Challenges at a forum organised by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corp (STIDC) recently that there was increasing demand for certified timber products in the US, the European Union (EU) and Australia. The world's total area of certified forest stood at some 375 million ha, which was about 10% of the total global commercial forests.
Ready to go: Plywood is among the major certified timber products exported from Malaysia. The others comprise sawn timber, mouldings and laminated fingerjointed timber.
About 53.8% of the certified forests are in North America, 34.4% in the EU and barely 2.1% in the Asia-Pacific.
Chew said Malaysia was one of the leading exporters of certified tropical timber in the world.
In fact, certified tropical timber products fetched premium prices of between 2% and 4% (for specific timber products) in the Netherlands as indicated by the International Tropical Timber Organisation's latest tropical timber report.
He added that certified softwood products could hardly command any premium prices now.
Chew noted that there were 10 countries which imposed public procurement policies that accepted legal timber or sustainable timber for use in publicly-funded projects.
The public sector of these countries is estimated to account for about 20% of total consumption of certified timber.
The 10 are Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Finland and Switzerland.
He said some private companies like Home Depot in the US and B&Q in Britain had procurement policies that specified only certified timber products.
“Green building schemes in a number of countries accept only timber products certified under PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) or Forest Ste-wardship Council (FSC),” he added.
As of July 1, he said there were nine certified forest management units (FMUs) holding valid PEFC schemes certificate for forest management in Malaysia.
PEFC is presently the world's largest forest certification organisation, which endorsed Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) in 2009 for five years.
The endorsement enables MTCS to be recognised internationally, and allows the MTCS-certified products to use the PEFC logo.
Chew said the nine certified FMUs were in Segaliud-Lokan (Sabah), Negri Sembilan, Johor, Terengganu, Kedah, Pahang, Perak, Kelantan and Selangor covering 4.64 million ha. Another 370,000 ha in Sabah were certified under the FSC scheme.
He said the Sabah authorities had set 2014 as the target for all long-term forest licences to achieve certification. “For the eight states in Peninsular Malaysia, the certified material available is about two million cu m of logs a year.”
As of last month, Chew said 171 timber companies nationwide were issued with PEFC Chain of Custody Certificate (accredited certificate) under MTCS.
The Chain of Custody certification involves verification by independent third-party assessor that wood products, including logs purchased, were derived from forests which have been certified.
It involves tracking of timber products from the forest of origin through processing to the retail point.
Chew said timber certification was a market-linked tool to address the need for sustainable forest management and support market access.
On the challenges facing timber certification, he said forest managers had to comply with additional requirements in the certification standard.
The environment aspects include the conduct of macro-environmental impact assessment at FMU level (for Peninsular Malaysia), protection of endangered species of flora and fauna, avoid or minimise pollution of water sources as well as avoid or minimise conversion of natural forest to forest plantations and/or non-forest land use.