By Khairul Anuar Muhamad Noh
GUA MUSANG – The Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), will be assisting Kelantan in planting some 2,000 species of forest trees – ‘Paulownia tomentosa’ at a farm in Mering here.
The research and planting of Paulownia trees, a native tree in Asia, will be carried out on a 200-hectare area in Mering subdistrict in Lojing, Gua Musang, Kelantan, with the cooperation of Syarikat Pollywood Sdn Bhd.
The tree-planting research project is to determine whether Paulownia trees are suitable for planting in this country to suit with the climate and humidity in tropical monsoon areas before the trees could be commercialized.
INTROP researcher, Assoc. Prof. Dr. H’ng Paik San said Paulownia trees, also known as Empress Cina, Princess or Left Tree, were popular due to fast growth rate, beautiful blooms in fragrant lavender colour, large leaves the size of an elephant’s ear, and high commodity sales of timber.
“Its main export markets are China, Taiwan and Japan, and it is used in the making of furniture, gift boxes, bowls, toys, clogs, handicrafts and musical instruments. Apart from that, the wood is also used to make traditional products such as lumber, construction industry, plywood and veneer.
“At this farm, specially genetically engineered Paulownia seeds of high quality, selected from a variety of trees for fast growth and higher productivity, will be planted.
“This method can help boost the economy such as production of high-value research in enzymes for industrial and agricultural production,” he said.
The ground-breaking ceremony in Lojing, Gua Musang, was held on December 8, 2016, by the patron of the project, Tengku Adil Hazraq Tengku Abdul Halim, witnessed by Syarikat Pollywood Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer, Wong Chin Choong, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. H’ng Paik San.
Dr. H’ng said UPM and Pollywood planned to enhance conservation efforts in Lojing to address the impact of environmental degradation and deforestation, declining forest carbon, sustainable production of bioresources and forest biodiversity.
The establishment of Paulownia forest plantation is one of the steps taken to address the declining traditional wood resources,” he added.
Through this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), UPM will carry out screening and identification of potential crops for industrial biocomposites and commercialization of new plants through the development of sustainable farming systems.
The collaboration will focus on detailed research forest products from Paulownia trees, exchange of researchers and post-graduate students, placement of undergraduates for industrial training, research data exchange and joint researches.
Pollywood is a local company dealing with agriculture, forestry and forest products business while NTROP, being a UPM research institute, plays the role of expanding tropical forest research and forest products in Malaysia.