‘Matured Acacia unharvested due to absence of pulp mill’

KUCHING: Though 74 per cent of the state’s planted forests are covered by matured Acacia, they have been left unharvested because of the absence of pulp mill.

There are 290,000ha of replanted forests in Sarawak and Acacia takes up the bulk of it, constituting 74 per cent of the total planted area while Batai takes up 10.3 per cent, Kelampayan 6.5 and the rest, 2.3 per cent.

Senior assistant director (Planted Forest Division) of Sarawak Forest Department Hii Tow Peck said despite reaching maturing age, the Acacia trees have not been harvested due to the lack of a pulp mill.

It was anticipated that the problem might be resolved in 2015 when Acacia Cellulose International Sdn Bhd (Acacell) set up a pulp mill at Tatau, Bintulu.

Presenting a talk at the ‘Industry Update 2012’ organised by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) here yesterday, Hii said the 43 private licences for planted forests covered an area of 2.9 million hectares, of which 1.3 million was expected to be plantable.

The licence for planted forests (LPFs) involves a long term tenure of 60 years, minimum of 1,000 ha where both indigenous (Kelampayan, engkabang and durian) and exotic species (acacia, batai, eucalyptus and rubber) would be planted.

“There is also annual licence fee, security deposit and annual land rent involved,” said Hii.

As an incentive, the state allows 25 per cent of plantable areas in the industrial tree plantation to be planted with oil palm.

In 1998, the state set the target of replanting one million hectares by 2020, but as of December last year, only 290,000ha had been planted, representing only 29 per cent of the target. Hii pointed out that if the state were to achieve its target, the licensees would have to accelerate their planting rate.

Among some of the improvements and corrective actions he recommended were more vigorous and systematic monitoring; enhancing enforcement of rules and licence; timely reminder letters and penalty for non compliance.

“The successful implementation of the planted forests would lessen the harvesting pressure on our natural forests and promote the sustainability of our forest resources,” said Hii.

Presently, there are six million ha of permanent forests in Sarawak, one million ha of totally protected forests while 1.6 million ha are native customary land and the rest (3.8 million ha) are state land and private land.

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