Sarawak keen to explore collaboration with industry peers and beyond to better industrial forest future

Hamden (front row, fifth left) in a group photo with participants attending the conference physically from Sarawak.

KUCHING, Oct 28: Forest Department Sarawak is keen to explore strategic collaboration with stakeholders, academia, researchers and neighbouring countries especially in research and development (R&D) as well as development of forest management actions to create a better future for the industrial forest sector.

Forest director Datu Hamden Mohammad has urged the R&D community to help Sarawak in developing the potential of native tree species, apart from Acacia and Eucalyptus, to support the balance of the ecological biodiversity system.

“I understand that currently, the forest plantations are planting more Eucalyptus such as pellita, the hybrid and this new finding will bring new headache to the planters, the breeders and the researchers as we are still struggling to mitigate the threats of ceratocystis and root rot disease as well.


“From the presentation, we clearly notice that Indonesia, Vietnam and China are far ahead in R&D on Eucalyptus and Acacia backed by at least 50 years of research efforts.

“R&D has greatly facilitated expansion and proliferation of all parts of China’s eucalypt industry per se. But compared to them, our current R&D is actually still at the infant stage. There is still a long way for us to go to achieve our aims,” he said.

He highlighted this at the closing ceremony of the 3rd International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) Acacia Conference 2021 today. The three-day virtual conference saw 40 oral and 11 poster papers presented and gathered researchers, the industries, the scientists from prominent research institutes from different countries as well as university students.

Datu Hamden Mohammad

Hamden believed that all the researchers and stakeholders understand that R&D is not a magic show as the effort of genetic improvement of tree species would take more than 20 years of continual research effort.

As for industrial forest plantation policies, he emphasised that countries like Vietnam and Indonesia can be the role model for Sarawak, especially their policy in looking at smallholders or cooperatives to advance the rural community in eradicating rural poverty.

“Definitely, this will be an area of interest for Sarawak to work together with our counterparts in Indonesia and Vietnam,” he added.

To meet industry needs and challenges, Hamden echoed an idea presented in the conference on the importance of cooperation for the long-term, pooling of resources, sharing of knowledge and information, and promoting partnership between public and corporate bodies, industry and government.

“I believe deeply, we cannot resolve the issues and challenges of our time, unless we perfect our collaboration by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes and aims; that we may have not the same principles, but we all want to move in the same direction towards a better future for our industrial forests.

“We do not wish to work in silos, we wish to work together with other stakeholders, academia and neighbouring countries who share the same interest.

“As the saying goes, ‘alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’. We should encourage collaboration for the growth and benefits of all relevant parties,” he said. — DayakDaily