KENINGAU (July 25): Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor wants timber players in the state to transform the industry by adopting the Economic Value Chain (EVC) concept that integrates both the upstream and downstream production sectors.
The forestry upstream and downstream processing had been stand-alone sectors all this while which means upstream products did not fully match the downstream demand, he added.
“With the EVC concept, these production lines are integrated and will increase productivity at a larger scale,” Hajiji said during his working visit to Jawala Plantation Industries Sdn Bhd and Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd in the Sapulut Forest Reserve near here on Monday. The Chief Minister said the working visit, his first to the SFMLA concession areas since taking office was for him to assess the physical progress of the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) initiative in the forestry sector namely the Forest Plantation Transformation through the Action Plan on Forest Plantation Development (2022-2036) launched on March 22, 2022.
Through the Action Plan, the State Government has targeted to develop 400,000 hectares of forest plantation within the Commercial Forest Reserves by 2036, he said.
The Chief Minister said the forest plantation development strategy was to reduce the downstream timber sector’s dependency on the virgin forests for raw material but at the same time maintain the sector’s competitiveness in the future.
He said that between six and eight million cubic metres of logs supply is expected through the harvesting of 40,000 hectares of forest plantations annually.
“This will ensure sufficient and sustainable raw material supply to the timber industry and has the potential to contribute about RM11.5 billion to Sabah’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), providing 40,000 jobs, and further expanding the timber processing sector,” he said.
The Sabah Forestry Department statistics indicated that a total of 165,198 hectares of forest plantation have been developed by the Sustainable Forest Management Licence Agreement (SFMLA) concessionaires in the Commercial Forest Reserves.
He said this represented a 41.3 per cent progress of the targetted 400,000 hectares under the Action Plan on Forest Plantation Development.
Jawala Plantation Industries Sdn Bhd has successfully developed about 2,237 hectares or 21.7 per cent of the 10,294 hectares zoned as forest plantation since 2018 whereas Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd has developed 20,969 hectares or 95 per cent of its 21,970 hectares since 2007.
Hajiji commended Jawala Plantation and Sapulut Forest Development for the good progress and hoped other SFMLA concessionaires entrusted to develop forest plantations in Sabah will emulate their success.
“I believe the forest plantation development programme will be able to boost the socioeconomic level of the local community through the availability of job opportunities and better facilities for all workers.
“I would also like to urge the concessionaires to be mindful of environmental protection and conservation in line with the State Government’s aspiration for forest management to be managed in a sustainable manner and reducing the impact on climate change,” he said.
Hajiji pointed out that the forest plantation programme also directly contributes to the Malaysia Greening Programme through the 100 million tree planting campaign in which Sabah has targeted to plant 40 million trees by 2025. To date, 7.5 million trees have been planted throughout the state with the involvement of SFMLA concessionaires, government agencies, private sectors, school children
and the public.
In conjunction with the Chief Minister’s working visit to the Sapulut Forest Reserve, another 1,000 trees were planted.
At the Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd site, the Chief Minister declared open the company’s nursery which supports its one million per annum tree planting programme and which will be the resource input for the EVC. Also present were Deputy Chief Minister III/Minister of Industrial Development, Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam, State Secretary Datuk Seri Panglima Sr Safar Untong, Chief
Forest Conservator, Datuk Frederick Kugan, Sabah Economic Advisory Council chairman Tan Sri David Chu, Jawala Plantation Industries Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Majid Khan and Sapulut Forest Development Sdn Bhd managing director Norman Wong.