Environmental Groups Push for Review of Samling PEFC Status

Investigation could have global implications for global plywood and furniture

Wed 15 Nov 23


Environmental groups are calling on the Sarawak Government to “conduct an impartial review of Samling’s operations,” claiming in a 100-page report, “alleged violations against forest certification standards.”

The report’s co-authors, Borneo Project and Bruno Manser Fonds, argue that Samling’s PEFC and FSC certification is “being misused to greenwash the company’s environmentally harmful timber production and mislead the international market.”

It claims that its operations in the Malaysian state of Sarawak continue to be certified as ‘sustainable’ according to the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme,” endorsed by PEFC International.

“This allows their products to be sold on the international markets under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) green label,” the New Straits Times reports.

The latest report comes after 5 ENGOs complained to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in October 2022, with the Bonn-based organisation accepting that there was “sufficient evidence” to conduct an investigation.

The FSC prob follows complaints from ENGOs, including the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC), Bruno Manser Fonds, The Borneo Project, KERUAN and SAVE Rivers, who provided Wood Central with a statement following the announcement.

The alleged activities occurred between 2017 and 2022, with the allegations made against entities of Samling Global Limited that are not FSC-certified but are connected to two chains of custody certificate holders belonging to the Samling group.

Due to the chain of custody certificate holders’ indirect involvement in the alleged activities, FSC has decided to accept the complaint and open a Policy for Association case against the company.

On April 19, 2023, Samling issued a statement responding to the allegations. It claims that “accusations have constantly been made without any basis and proper fact-checking made with Samling.”

It also states that “the certification process itself has been completed to the satisfaction of the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (“MTCC”)” – which is the PEFC-endorsed scheme.

Samling is a major player in Malaysia’s push to grow its housing stock using engineered wood products. Malaysia’s Federal Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Willie Mongin, inspects the growth of forest plantations in Sarawak. Footage courtesy of @arkancreator5487.
Implications for the global plywood and furniture markets

The potential disassociation could significantly impact the worldwide supply of plywood, engineered wood and furniture products.

Samling employs 5,000 individuals and manages over 1.2 million hectares of forest land and 190,250 hectares of forest plantations.

With operations in Malaysia in addition to Guyana, New Zealand and China, it is one of the world’s largest downstream hardwood processors. 

In August, Wood Central reported that more than 90% of raw materials from plantations are used in downstream activities,

“Not only do we utilise resources from our plantations in our downstream production of plywood, furniture and kitchen cabinets,” according to Lawerence Chia, CEO of Samliong, “but we also utilise residual wood from the plantations to produce wood pellets and to manufacture door skins.

Listed on the Forest 500, the company has been a significant player in the global plywood market since 1998 and has partnered with the Malaysian Government to establish Sarawick tree plantations.

Additionally, Samling has collaborated with Masonite International Corporation, a US-based company that produces and markets door facings and doors, as well as Japanese firms Daiken Corporation and Itochu Corporation.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


Related Articles