KUCHING: Universities and training institutes need to work closely with the forest plantation sector to understand, prepare, and develop integrated industry-university training courses to provide skilled and motivated employees for the industry and to make the industry a success.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, in saying this, pointed out that human capital and capacity in this sector could be further enhanced through collaborative projects with various higher learning institutions, both locally and internationally.
He said these projects could focus on research into the potential and best practice species, management, silviculture, and harvesting as well as design of the products that can be produced from the species planted.
“It must also be competitive and marketable,” he said when officiating at the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) Acacia Conference 2021 here on Tuesday (Oct 26).
“The forest plantation industry is laborious, from establishment, management, to harvesting. Future transition to profitability is not only dependent upon achieving a high level of productivity of forest plantation but also requires well-trained, highly skilled, and motivated employees.”
Apart from this, he said forest plantation certification was crucial for a sustainable forest plantation industry.
“Certification is a tool to ensure good plantation management practices, leading to efficient harvesting and production. (It can also) help in increasing the market confidence of timber products from well-managed plantations.”
On the use of technology in forest plantations, he said hyperspectral could be used in the monitoring of pest and disease incidents in big plantations, mapping of soil types, volume prediction, and so on.
As for the downstream industry, he said the advancement of technology could help in improved processing of plantation logs to ensure optimum utilisation.
“The hyperspectral imaging system developed by Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) contains a wealth of data, including forest stand composition such as species composition of natural or planted forest through discrimination and mapping.
“The hyperspectral imaging system is also useful in detecting and mapping any irregularities present in the forest ecosystem such as invasive species, tree diseases, and many more.”
In addition, he said the high spectral and spatial resolution sensor could determine the health status of planted forest stand in the state.
“These benefits include monitoring of pest and disease, nutrient status, and the effectiveness of control measures in planted forest stand.”
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh; permanent secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources Datuk Sr Zaidi Mahdi; FDS director Datuk Hamden Mohammad, and other representatives.