Opening of The 3rd IUFRO ACACIA Webinar 2021
Deliver on 26 Oct 2021

Click here for Opening of The 3rd IUFRO ACACIA Webinar 2021 pdf files.














“Embracing Transformation for

Sustainable Management of

Industrial Forest Plantations”



Assalamualaikum, a very good afternoon and salam sejahtera.

On behalf of the State Government of Sarawak, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to grace and open the 3rd IUFRO Acacia Conference 2021. It is indeed an honour for the State of Sarawak to co-host this very meaningful international conference.  Allow me to congratulate the organizing committee for making this conference a reality despite difficulties caused by the pandemic.  I am given to understand that many IUFRO conferences were successfully organized via online platforms ever since 2020.

I am delighted to see various participations in this conference, particularly from the industries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies and research institutions from all over the world. It is quite unfortunate that we are unable to conduct the physical conference.  However, I would still like to welcome all of you to the Land of the Hornbill, Sarawak, virtually. 

Sarawak has one of the oldest rainforests in the world.  It is estimated to be 130 million years old. With age, comes richness and diverse biological resources.  Species diversity and richness have created diverse biochemicals that could be beneficial to mankind.  Sarawak is not only blessed with many natural resources, but we are also blessed with cultural diversity where there are 28 ethnic communities living harmoniously.  Many of the local native communities have been living intimately with the biodiversity and learned to use the plants for various reasons; be it for food, medicines, health and shelter.  Thus, Sarawak offers a splendid destination for ecotourism enthusiasts.  I hope when time permits, you may come to visit Sarawak to savour the wonderful ambience of our diverse tropical rainforest environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Global Planted Forest Initiatives

There is rising global interest in planting more trees to meet growing population, overcome climate change, and cater to wood energy needs. According to the New Forests No. 52 (2021) Publication, projections indicate increasing global planted forest area trends for the next three to four decades. Compared to 293 million ha of planted forests globally in 2015, under a vision of a wealthier world, it projects the largest increase to 334 million ha (14% gain) by 2055, or on the opposite, for a vision of a poorer world (post Covid, etc.), an increase to 319 million ha, (9% gain). Asia has the largest area of planted forest at 135 million ha, which is about 46% of the world’s total planted forest area. This consists of 79 million ha of plantation forests and 56 million ha of other planted forests. About 32% of the total plantation forest in Asia is planted with introduced species, such as Acacia, Eucalyptus, Falcataria and more. 

Globally, there are a number of multi-national forest restoration and creation initiatives, including, among others, the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), which was first endorsed at the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014 (UN 2014), and the Bonn Challenge, which is a platform to achieve multiple restoration targets under one initiative.

Alongside non-governmental organizations’ actions and initiatives, several individual countries and states have established efforts to promote the expansion of planted forests or strengthen the protection of existing forests. Most significantly, participants at the World Economic Forum in 2020 announced an initiative to grow, restore, and conserve one trillion trees around the world. Perhaps not all of these would be new planted forests, but if so, it would amount to an increase of one billion ha of forests—expanding global forest area by 25%—at an approximate stocking rate of 1000 trees per ha. For example, European Union is moving toward allowing countries to include forest planting in their climate change mitigation practices.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, as a contribution to the global planted forest target, Malaysia launched the 100 million Trees Planting Campaign 2021–2025 in January 2021 as part of Greening Malaysia’s programme.

Distinguished Guests,

Sarawak’s Forest Plantations

In 1996, Sarawak embarked on large-scale forest plantations as a long-term strategy towards providing a new source of wood material for the wood-based industries in the state. With the planting of the fast-growing species, the State Government is hoping to establish 1 million ha of industrial forests by 2025. 

Forest plantations are also hoped to relieve pressure on natural forests in the state and at the same time, increase the state’s forest cover to reduce the greenhouse effect.  Sarawak is committed to preserving a good balance of forest for perpetuity including the conservation of biodiversity and the ecosystem functions. This would mean that more timber must be obtained from other sources. Forest plantations offer a promising source of timber. Intensively and sustainably managed plantations will have to play a significant role to meet the increasing demand for wood products and avoid further reduction of natural forests.

Forest plantation is also recognized as an essential part of the strategic approach for sustainable management of forest resources. In light of the declining trend of log production from our tropical natural forest, it is of exigent needs to increase the scale of operation and productivity of forest plantation with efficiency in order to produce sufficient quality plantation logs to offset shortage of log supply from natural forests.

Ladies and gentlemen,

R&D in Forest Plantations

The 3rd IUFRO Acacia Webinar, which begins today, is a very important platform for networking, sharing of information, which hopefully will lead to many collaborations, especially for those who are involved in the forest plantation industries.  We in Malaysia, particularly Sarawak, are still a bit behind as compared to other Asian countries in forest plantation development. Research and Development (R & D) is one of the key initiatives to address the gaps we faced such as unavailability of high-quality planting materials, incidences of pest and disease, the right species to be planted amongst others, which need to be addressed holistically to ensure success in achieving the main objectives of forest plantation development.

R&D is time-consuming and a lot needs to be done before results can be achieved. Based on recorded evidence established by many international communities in the R&D works in plantation forestry such as Brazil, China, Vietnam and more, Sarawak will need decades to get proven result in tree cultivation since our soil types vary across the regions. Furthermore, although indigenous species are available, a greater preference is given for the selection of exotic species as there is lack of adequate knowledge in the propagation and silvicultural management of indigenous species, as well as a higher supply of seeds of the exotic species, which are fast growing and high yielding.

Testing alternative species and regimes, pests and diseases resistance, and with short and long rotation for different wood quality and timber products, as well as for the restoration of the degraded land should be our utmost agenda for the industrial forest plantation development. Therefore, a higher level of expertise in operations and research is required to support the forest plantation development. As such, we welcome international collaborations to build up our research capacity in Sarawak, thus contributing to the growth of the high value profitable plantations based on high productivity and quality.
R&D is also required, in support of value-adding to plantation timber. The Sarawak government has strong desire to embark on tertiary downstream timber processing towards export-oriented direction especially on large scale manufacturing of furniture and other value-added timber products. Logs from planted forest will be the ultimate substitute of future raw material in timber processing industry. We urge the timber products manufacturing sector to transform themselves and re-invest to adapt their processing equipment and techniques to the changed log quality and species.  Research must continue to seek ways of improving management, and ways for measuring and valuing tradeoffs between different components of sustainability. Partnerships between researchers and managers need to be revitalised to make the best use of an information-rich environment.

Distinguished Guests,

Usage of Technology in Forest Plantations

The use of advanced technologies could bring further changes to the forest sector especially in planted forest. Technology such as hyperspectral could be used in the monitoring of pest and disease incidents in big plantations, mapping of soil types, volume prediction etc. For the downstream industry, the advancement of technology could help in better processing of plantation logs to ensure optimum utilisation. 

The hyperspectral imaging system developed by Forest Department Sarawak 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 to that, the high spectral and spatial resolution sensor can 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. 

Distinguished Guests,

Human Capital and Forest Plantation Certification

Forests 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. Universities and training institutes need to work closely with the sector to understand, prepare and develop the integrated industry-universities training courses to provide skilled and motivated employees for the industry and making the industry a success.
Therefore, human capital and capacity in the processing industrial forest could be further enhanced through collaborative projects with various higher learning institutions, both locally and internationally, with focus on research on the potential and best practice species, management, silviculture and harvesting as well as design of the product that can be produced from the species planted. It must also be competitive and marketable.

Besides the products, forest plantation certification is crucial for a sustainable forest plantation industry. Certification is a tool to ensure good plantation management practices, leading to efficient harvesting and production, and help in increasing the market confidence of timber products from well-managed plantations.

Ladies and gentlemen,


I hope that this conference will enlighten all the participants on the most up-to-date information in the forest plantation industry. Most of all, it provides an important platform for sharing knowledge and experiences, especially from other countries. I also hope that through discussions and deliberation, everyone can come together to devise a better strategy to further strengthen the implementation of forest plantation in this region.

On that note, I wish to congratulate IUFRO and the organising committee for their hard work, contributions, and dedication in organising this conference.  I would like to conclude by thanking all of you once again for your attendance.

Now, it is with great pleasure I declare the 3rd IUFRO Acacia Webinar 2021 open and wish you all success in your deliberations.

Thank you.

Speeches By: YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg