Malaysia’s Ambition: Sarawak Eyes Slice of Mass Timber Market

Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation economic modelling shows $2.6B AUD in wood export earnings

Mon 12 Jun 23


Sarawak, the largest among Malaysia’s 13 states, is flexing its muscles as a bigger player in the global market for engineered wood.

Industry players have been urged to use timber from planted forests to produce high-value-added products such as wood panels and furniture.

The Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) has identified the timber industry as an important economic sector to generate an annual $AUD2.6 billion in export earnings.

STIDC says timber from planted forests can produce veneer, plywood, sawn wood, woodchips, MDF, particleboard, and furniture.

It anticipates that timber from forest plantations will produce engineered wood, including laminated veneer lumber, cross-laminated timber, glulam, and other panel products such as oriented strand board.

The timber industry was identified as an important economic sector under the state’s post-Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030, reports ITTO.

The Sarawak post-Covid 19 Development Strategy 2030

The strategy involves several key initiatives.

  • First, it includes replanting 200,000 hectares of degraded forest areas.
  • Second, it aims to implement Carbon Credits Programmes.
  • Third, it involves establishing bamboo plantations and developing a bamboo-based industry.
  • Additionally, the strategy includes the certification of 4.5 million hectares of long-term forest license area, or natural forest, by 2022.
  • Moreover, by 2025, the strategy envisions the development of a further 178,000 hectares of certified forest plantation.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded here.

To achieve this, the timber industry must embrace transformation from primary to high value-added processing.

The Sarawak government is taking proactive steps to meet the needs of the timber industry by ensuring a sustainable and renewable supply of raw materials.

Investing in forest plantations

To achieve this, the government will embark on forest plantation establishment through smart partnerships with the private sector.

There are 50 active licences for planted forests (LPFs) with an area of about 2.89 million ha throughout the state.

To date, more than 500,000 hectares of plantations have already been established. The main species are Acacia spp, Batai (Falcataria moluccana), eucalyptus spp., and Kelampayan (Neolamarckia cadamba).

Logging concessions in certified forests have been extended

It was recently announced that logging concessions in Sarawak can be extended for 30 years if certified through FSC or the PEFC-aligned Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCC).

The MTCS is a voluntary scheme that provides independent assessment for forest management and chain of custody certification to ensure the sustainable management of Malaysia’s Permanent Reserved Forests (PRF).

The MTCS started operating in 2001 and is a leading timber certification scheme in the Southeast Asian region. In 2009 the MTCS became the first tropical timber certification scheme to be endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Preparing for the Malaysian Wood Expo 2023 in Kuala Lumpur

The Timber Exporters Association of Malaysia (TEAM) recently organised a business mission to Taiwan, visiting the cities of Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung.

TEAM represents the interests of Malaysian exporters and seeks to advocate, support, and negotiate on any legislation affecting the country’s export trade.

Participants were interested in the acquisition of advanced processing technologies.

The mission included a visit to ‘Wood Taiwan 2023’ at the Nangang Exhibition Centre in Taipei. In addition, visits were made to top Taiwan woodworking machinery industries.

The TEAM delegation also met with the National Union of Timber Trade Association and importers interested in learning more about Malaysia’s tropical timbers.

Malaysia’s wood industry will ‘open’ to the world during the Malaysian Wood Expo 2023 in Kuala Lumpur from June 18 to 20.

Jointly organised by the Malaysian Timber Council and Pablo Publishing, the exhibition spans 12,000 square metres, twice the space of the previous wood expo in 2019.

  • Wood Central will provide an update from the expo.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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