Research and development vital to address implementation gaps

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (third right) officially declaring open the Industrial Forest Plantation Seminar at Pullman Hotel Miri on Wednesday (Nov 4). Also seen (from left) Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datuk Len Talif Salleh, Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources permanent secretary Datuk Zaidi Mahdi, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting (second right), and Forest Department Sarawak director Datuk Hamden Mohammad (right). Photo: JaPen

MIRI: Research and development (R&D), collaboration, and knowledge sharing are vital to support the effective development of industrial forest plantations.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said R&D was one of the key initiatives to address gaps in the implementation of industrial forest plantations — which included a lack in availability of high-quality planting materials, incidences of pest and disease and the right species to be planted, among other issues.

He noted that in 2014, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) had been assigned to fast-track the development of R&D capacities among Licence for Planted Forests (LPF) operations in the state.

“To date, 21 Seed Production Areas (SPAs) at seven LPFs have been established,” he said.

He stressed that sustainability and profitability could only be achieved if the quality of
plantations was considered, and thus he said R&D must be invested in.

“Aggressive plantation development is only possible if it is based on scientifically sound and reliable research.” Abang Johari said R&D should not be done alone as collaboration and knowledge sharing were equally important to achieve fruitful outcomes.

He said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked during today’s event would support this by strengthening collaborations in R&D related to industrial forest plantations.

He urged major timber industry players in Sarawak to change their mindset of working in silos to a more collaborative one.

“Some (big companies) are very advanced, but unfortunately they are not willing to share crucial data for the betterment of industrial forest development in Sarawak. Perhaps this is due to the competition mentality among the LPFs.”

He said Sarawak was just a small player in this global industry and therefore the state’s industry players ought to rely on each other.