The Government, via the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, has allocated RM1.04bil for a forest plantation scheme to ensure sustainable wood supplies in the country.
Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) director-general Dr Jalaluddin Harun said the allocation would be used to turn 375,000ha nationwide into forest plantations from 2006 until 2021.
He said about 106,000ha had been approved for the planting purposes, of which 56,000ha had been planted with various tree species.
“So far, 40 companies have taken part in the scheme, with RM650mil soft loan of the RM1.04bil allocation have been disbursed to them,’’ said Dr Jalaluddin.
He said this at the launch of the World Day of Architecture 2012 organised by the Malaysian Institute of Architects.
Dr Jalaluddin said nine out of the 2,500 wood species in Malaysian had been identified for the forest plantation scheme, as their usage could be commercialised for the furniture and construction industries.
The species are rubber, acacia, bamboo, mahogany, laran, sentang, batai, kelampayan and binua.
He said the forest plantation scheme would ensure a steady supply of wood as demand was still good, noting that 85% of the wood usage in the country came from furniture makers and construction-related activities.
“We also want to position Malaysia as one of the leading exporters of value-added wood-based products in the world instead of exporting sawn timbers or plywood planks like what we are doing now,’’ said Dr Jalaluddin.
He said that for instance, the country’s construction industry was worth RM50bil to RM60bil yearly, of which 5% to 10% constituted demand for wood-based products.
Dr Jalaluddin urged local exporters to look at ways to improve value-added wood-based products, which had been getting good demand, especially from developed countries.
Separately, he said MTIB was in the midst of outlining the roadmap for Malaysia’s furniture industry to strengthen it further.
“The move is deemed necessary in view of the ferocious competition from other exporters (countries) and Malaysia has to do something to continue protecting its leading position in the international furniture fraternity,’’ he said.