MIRI, 22 MARCH 2017-  SARAWAK FORESTRY Corporation (SFC) and its R&D collaborators have responded positively to the Chief Minister of Sarawak who had recently issued a clarion call for more focused R&D to be conducted so that ‘Industrial Forests’ could be viably set up in Sarawak. This was disclosed yesterday in Miri during the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Planted Forest Research Program (PFRP) of SFC.

Present to officiate the Annual Meeting was Datu Haji Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Environment as well as Assistant Minister of Workforce Development and Training. In his officiating speech, Len touched on several policy directions that could facilitate the attainment of forestry objectives as recently outlined by the Chief Minister during the public forum on Forest Landscape Restoration.

Len called on the LPF (License for Planted Forest) holders and other major timber players to seriously consider to intensify their tree planting programme in view of the reduction of production from the natural forests leading to an eventual total ban of log export from the natural forests. He also pointed out that all LPFs need to collaborate to share R & D data and findings to ensure the success of the PFRP. Additionally, Len called on the industry to help sustainably fund the PFRP through provision such as the cess from harvested timber. On the matter of protecting Sarawak’s forests from external pests and diseases, he called on the Forest Department and SFC to take necessary preventive steps including the enforcement of phyto-sanitary regulations and in due course, the Forests (Nursery) Rules that are in the gazettment process.

The Chief Executive Officer of SARAWAK FORESTRY, Wong Ting Chung, also spoke at the meeting. He disclosed that SFC will enlist the expertise of research institutions that have proven good track records of similar R&D programmes, both locally and internationally, to achieve the research goals that the Chief Minister had earlier articulated. Towards the end, the event also witnessed the inking of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SFC and Borneo Forestry Cooperative (BFC). This collaboration would intensify R & D efforts in areas of common interests such as the development of best operating practices for plantation establishment and the improvement of seed quality.

The PFRP Annual Meeting in Miri saw participation of 60 individuals comprising representatives from LPF companies, international and local researchers and relevant government agencies.