KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — Sabah is targeting to establish 400,000 hectares of forest plantations by 2035 as a measure to reduce dependence on timber from forest reserves, as well as to enhance timber productivity in the state.
Sabah Forestry Department, Sustainable Forest Management Division chief Musa Salleh said, so far 106 thousand hectares of forest plantations have been developed at a cost of RM1.6 billion
He said as the timber industry is still the main contributor to Sabah’s economy, it was important to ensure there is a reduction in the number of logging concessions as a proactive move in promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) as a long term plan.
“Sabah targets consistent production of six million cubic metres of timber from forest plantations by 2031 and the years ahead, “ he said in a Forestry webinar hosted by Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department (JPSM) in collaboration with the Sarawak Forest Department and the Sabah Forestry Department.
“If we manage to develop 400 thousand hectares of forest plantations with an estimated 200 cubic metres per hectare per year, over a period of 10 years, we can expect eight million hectares of timber extraction from the forests,” he said.
Musa said the cost of establishing forest plantations was estimated at RM10,000 per hectare and an investment of RM2.4 billion or RM170 million a year was needed to complete another 240,000 hectares of forest reserves by 2035.
He said though this would be a big investment, the Sabah government was taking steps towards the effort through several plans including the Sabah Timber Industry Masterplan and the Plantation Transformation Plan (TPP).
Meanwhile he said, apart from producing timber products, forest resources for carbon-based industries are also being developed to attract high investments to the country.
According to studies, Sabah has 1.33 million hectares of forests as carbon sources which can contribute an investment potential of approximately RM1.95 billion.
Musa said efforts in establishing forest plantations were to ensure adequate supply of raw materials for the wood -based industry for the long term as well as to protect and conserve the biodiversity of tropical rainforests which had been the catalyst for the rapid growth of Sabah’s tourism industry. — Bernama