Tech upgrade necessary, sawmills told

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan has called for technology change in sawmills and plants.

He said such change is necessary because timber production from natural forest is diminishing while production from planted forest is increasing.

He said in terms of size, planted forest timbers are smaller.

“Not many of our sawmills and plants have upgraded their technology — many are still using old technology which is based on large timber products,” he said during a press conference after officiating at the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) Integrity Day 2019 celebration at Wisma Sumber Alam here yesterday.

“It is high time for them to retool and upgrade their technology so that they can continue to be involved in timber production,” he urged.

The Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development also called for timber industry players to be innovative and aim for high value-added products such as furniture, which he said has big market.

Awang Tengah went on to assure that the land use policy has been established to make the timber industry sustainable.

“We target one million hectares to be gazetted as a totally protected area by next year, in the form of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves, and so on,” the STIDC board of management chairman said.

“Then, we have six million hectares as permanent forest estates. This will be a timber production area, including the planted forests. Our target for planted forests is about one million hectares by 2025,” he sounded.

He said that this would be the main source for the timber industry.

“We also allow certain timber companies to import certain species of logs which is not indigenous to our state,” Awang Tengah revealed. This, he said, would enable them to create high value-added products.