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Sarawak targets 1M ha of tree plantations by 2020

Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo, aims to have 1 million hectares of industrial tree plantations by 2020 to offset declining timber production due to unsustainable forest management practices.

According to the June bulletin from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Sarawak currently has 306,486 ha to tree plantations, meaning it needs to plant 90,000 hectares per year to meet its 2020 target. Currently 72 percent of the state’s plantations consist of Acacia trees. Batai (12 percent), Eucalyptus (7 percent), and Kelampayan (6 percent) follow.

The ITTO noted that 63 percent of Sarawak’s declared log exports went to India in 2012. Taiwan (12 percent) and China (10 percent) were the second and third largest markets respectively. Timber is the third largest source of export revenue in Sarawak after liquefied natural gas, oil and palm oil.

Sarawak has a two million hectare target for oil palm plantations for 2020. Expansion is specifically targeting native customary rights land (NCR) — areas allocated to indigenous populations.

Sarawak’s logging and plantation industries have been sharply criticized by human rights groups and environmentalists for encroaching on indigenous lands and destroying vast tracts of rainforest and peatlands. Activists say that investments in the forestry sector have generated tens of billions of dollars in personal income for Sarawak’s ruling family.

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