KUCHING: Sarawak recorded RM5.44 billion in timber product exports last year, a decline of 11 per cent from RM6.13 billion in 2017.
Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) general manager Hashim Bojet said 91 per cent of exported products last year comprised primary industry products like veneer (RM3.19 billion), logs (RM773 million), sawn timber (RM673 million) and medium-density fireboard (MDF) at RM332 million.
Speaking at STIDC’s monthly staff assembly, he said Sarawak’s export market in 2018 were Japan (RM2.69 billion), India (RM545 million), Korea (RM424 million), Middle East countries (RM385 million), Taiwan (RM358 million), and Asean countries like Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam at RM666 million.
Hashim also said that timber production from natural forests continue to show a downward trend, with 5.7 million cubic metres produced in 2017 compared to 10 million cubic metres in 2010.
“Timber production from natural forests is expected to continue decreasing at 1.7 million cubic metres by 2030,” he predicted, adding that such development would affect timber downstream activities in the state.
Given such development, he said forest plantations would need to target one million hectares and produce four million cubic metres annually for five years to enable sufficient raw materials for downstream activities in the future.
Hashim further said that STIDC was also undertaking a bamboo pilot project in Sabal, Simunjan as an alternative for raw material for the timber industry, working with several agencies and institutions of higher learning like Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Sarawak Forestry Corporation among others on research and development.