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The Timber Industry in Malaysia

Index of wood industries

Shorea sumatrana is a forest tree species belonging to the family Dipterocarpaceae. This large-sized timber tree is widely distributed across Sumatra, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia, particularly in the east coast region. Frequently, it grows in low lying swampy habitat along river banks. Shorea sumatrana is locally known as balau sengkawang ayer. In Indonesia, it is called kayu meranti. It has small fragrant flowers with yellow petals and looks beautiful with its pink base. The stem is straight and smooth with small buttresses. The wood is grouped as heavy hardwood. The timber is used for heavy construction, such as housing poles and bridges.

The stems produce resin or dammar known as gusi dammar, gummy dammar or cat’s eye dammar. The resin was traditionally used for making torch and now is used to produce paint, varnish, lacquer, cosmetic and in the pharmaceutical, dental and linoleum industries. It is also used as emulsifier and stabilizer for paint products and printing inks.

The conservation status of the species is critically endangered. This is the consequences of destruction to its habitat. The flowering and fruiting sengkawang ayer trees can be seen near FRIM’s library, Urban Forestry office (building D13), and at the Rover Track entrance near the mosque.

Source : Forest Research Institute Malaysia.

Wednesday May 23, 2012 Malaysian Government to give RM3bil to expand forest plantation

Malaysian Government plans to allocate RM3bil to expand the country's forest plantation by up to 375,000ha by 2020 to ensure sustainable and a guaranteed supply of raw materials for the wood-related industry.


“The Government is upbeat on the prospects of the wood-related industry and the allocation (financial) reflects our commitment in its development,''
“Malaysia is the eighth largest furniture exporter in the world and third in Asia,'' said Muhyiddin.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
22 May 2012 speaking at the opening of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board showroom

Wood-related industry was one of the main revenue earners in Malaysia, generating a yearly export income of RM21.7bil from 2006 until 2010 and creating 300,000 job opportunities.

The wood-based industry contributed RM20bil in export revenue in 2011, representing 14.1% of the total RM141.2bil of the country's commodities exports.

Wooden furniture remained Malaysia's main wood-based product for export and in 2011, the total furniture exported amounted to RM6.5bil or 32.5% of the total wood-based products.

The plantation and commodity industries must continue their effort to develop Malaysia's wood-based industry by producing higher quality products and strengthening the export market.

National Timber Industry Plan, Malaysia could achieve the target of exporting RM53bil of wood-based products and emerge as the top three furniture exporters in the world by 2020.

In order for Malaysia to achieve that status, the local furniture makers must shift from own equipment manufacturing to own design manufacturing and own brand manufacturing.

Round Logs from KalabakanRound Logs from Kalabakan
Round Logs from Kalabakan

Ricehusk Board (Papan Sekam Padi)Ricehusk Board (Papan Sekam Padi)
Ricehusk Board (Papan Sekam Padi)

A drop in timber sales and cause Sabah’s forests to lose economic value:

The Sabah Forestry Department has called allegations of widespread illegal logging in the state “wild and baseless,” adding that the dissemination of such allegations would cause a drop in timber sales and cause Sabah’s forests to lose economic value:


“We have reason to believe the unfounded allegations are politically motivated and not driven by any love for the environment. The allegations are therefore baseless and made with bad intention to discredit the sacrifices made by the state government to achieve good forest governance and sustainable forest management in the shortest time possible, despite the economic, financial and social challenges. Short-term licenses that cause tremendous damage to the environment are being drastically phased out and Sabah’s forest management credibility is at its highest — an open-book philosophy whereby logging and forest management areas are all open to third-party and NGO scrutiny.”

Timber Companies Asked to Obtain Certification :

Timber corruption scandal

Sawit Watch: an Indonesian network against oil palm plantations

Sarawak collected RM7.08 billion from its timber export for the whole of 2011.
The highest export value within the past four years was in 2008 when the income recorded was RM7.91 billion. Sarawak's export revenue dropped to RM6.59 billion in 2009 but in 2010 it increased again to RM7.21 billion.
For the whole of 2011 Total Exports in Sarawak :
1) Logs 45.59%
2) Plywood 33.45%
3) Sawn Timber 10.67%
4) The rest were veneer, moulding, dowels, particle board, laminated board, flooring, woodchips, block board and other timber products.

The biggest market for Sarawak’s timber sector export for 2011 was :
1) Japan with 33%
2) India 16%
3) Taiwan 11%
4) Asia 10%
5) Middle East 9%
6) Korea 6%
7) China 5%
8) US and Europe 10%

The timber industry in Malaysia is one of long-standing prominence, garnering much attention as one of the economy’s core components of growth.

As Malaysia is well-blessed with an abundance of rainforest and land, the steady supply of trees and logs highlight the importance of this resource-based sector, ranking it among the likes of agriculture, oil and gas, mining and manufacturing.

Malaysia is among the world’s largest exporter of tropical logs, plywood, sawn-timber and furniture to international markets.
Specialists concur that this industry will not likely become redundant anytime soon.

As the world’s second largest industry after food, timber is a material with a wide range of uses, providing employment opportunities and raw materials with further flexible functions.

Malaysia is aggressively promoted downstream activities to become a manufacturer of higher quality and value-added products.

Malaysia Timber Industry Board (MTIB) believes that Malaysia can achieve a target of RM53 billion in the export of timber and timber related products by the year 2020.

So far, statistics from official records supported the direction of this segment’s growth.

In 2010 and 2011, Malaysia exported timber and timber products was worth RM20.52 billion and RM20.06 billion respectively.

Looking at 2011 performance, timber products export revenue clinched RM20.03 billion, contributing substantively to the national economic growth.

Malaysia Export of Major Timber Products for January 2012


January 2012

Quantity Value % Change from 2011/
m3 '000 RM '000 million m3 '000 Value
Logs 299 159 -24.69% -27.06%
Sawn Timber 190 201 1.6% -3.83%
Fibreboard 74 91 -34.51% -13.33%
Plywood 248 401 -25.08 -11.87%
Builders' Joinery and Carpentry - 73 - -17.98
Wooden and Rattan furniture - 487 - -13.81
Others - 127 - -22.09
GRAND TOTAL - 1537 - -14.69

Source: MITB, Malaysia 2012