Message from advisors

Dato Henry Lau Lee Kong
Chairman of Sarawak Timber Association 

Sarawak Timber Association (STA) is a key institution actively fostering collaboration between its members, the government and international organisations to advance the timber industry, ensuring policy alignment, market compliance, and sustainability across both upstream and downstream activities in Sarawak.   

In line with our recognition of tropical forests’ crucial role in climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation, promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) has become an inherent mission of STA.  STA has committed significant efforts to promote sustainable practices and responsible resource management, aiming to ensure the well-being of our forests in the long term. Combined with a shared global concern for forest conservation and environmental challenges, the organisation of this International Conference is therefore timely. Against this backdrop, I warmly welcome all participants to contribute to this crucial undertaking.

The Conference is a vital platform for collaboration among policymakers, industry experts, and other stakeholders to emphasise the importance of SFM for promoting good governance, environmental conservation and social responsibilities. It covers diverse topics such as tropical forest management, bioeconomy, net-zero initiatives, global market trends, insights from various forest concessions, reduced impact logging, climate-smart practices and challenges in the timber industry. It will also explore various green financing options to support SFM practices, marking a significant milestone in bringing together expertise and fostering a call to action.    

Our goal is to explore effective strategies for encouraging more permanent forests with sustainable tenure through a paradigm shift in SFM supported by transparency and good governance in licensing and reporting. For government bodies, environmentalists, socialists, non-governmental organisations, timber industry or media alike, transparent consultation is key to achieving a balanced win-win outcome that incorporate pragmatic measures.     

With that, on behalf of STA I extend my heartfelt appreciation to participants, speakers, moderators, and partners for their invaluable contributions that have been instrumental in ensuring the success of the Conference.

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Datu Haji Hamden Bin Haji Mohammad
D​irector of Forests Sarawak

With great pleasure and enthusiasm, I extend a warm welcome to all distinguished guests, speakers, and delegates to the International Conference on Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests. I am honoured to be a part of this significant event that brings together experts, researchers, and practitioners from across the globe to delve into the critical issues surrounding the sustainable management of our precious tropical forests. 

Forest Department Sarawak takes immense pride in being the key implementing agency dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of our state's rich forest resources. Through strategic initiatives, innovative policies, and collaborative efforts, we strive to strike a delicate balance between meeting the growing demands for resources and ensuring long-term health and resilience.

This conference serves as a pivotal platform for exchanging knowledge, ideas, and best practices among global thought leaders in tropical forest management. In an era marked by unprecedented environmental challenges, the importance of collaborative knowledge-sharing cannot be overstated. The diverse perspectives and experiences brought forth by our esteemed speakers will undoubtedly contribute to the development of holistic and effective solutions that transcend geographical boundaries. 

As we engage in fruitful discussions and forge new connections, let us collectively reaffirm our commitment to the sustainable management of tropical forests. By fostering cooperation and mutual learning, we can amplify our impact and work towards a future where the delicate balance between human needs and ecological preservation is maintained. May our collective efforts pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient future for our tropical forests.

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Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar
Chairman of World Wildlife Fund Malaysia 

WWF-Malaysia has always been on a conservation agenda for the benefit of people and nature. The Sarawak Conservation Programme strategy is developed with inputs from partners and stakeholders from government agencies, private sectors, academia and local communities.

The conservation of forests is one of our key targets, and is aligned with the government’s policy to set aside 6 million ha Permanent Forest Estates and 1 million ha Totally Protected Areas.

One of our key work is helping the government to identify priority conservation areas, as a reference for sustainable land use planning which include the conservation of forests. Other work include the promotion and capacity building on High Conservation Values, wildlife surveys inside forest management units, and engagement with and empowerment of local communities. Community empowerment can equip affected stakeholders such as the communities, with the necessary and right knowledge to participate in sustainable forest management.

Conservation of forests and our natural resources require strong partnerships among all sectors. This international conference comes at the right time when efforts must intensify as we progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and 2050 Net Zero target.

The vast forests of Sarawak have crucial roles in Malaysia’s climate and biodiversity commitments, and I echo the efforts made by the Sarawak Government in keeping these forests.

Forests that are sustainably managed can bring in economic, social and ecological benefits. Above all, the function of forests in mitigating climate change impacts is of utmost importance. Therefore, all parties should adopt multifaceted and innovative approaches in the conservation of forests, aligned to these commitments, and to work ever more closely together.

As a member of the organising committee, WWF-Malaysia welcomes all speakers and participants to the conference and I wish you a fruitful engagement over the next two days.

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Ms Sheam Satkuru
Executive Director of International Tropical Timber Organization


The relevance of forests, especially tropical forests, in facing global challenges from poverty to climate change cannot be overstated. The effective implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) in the tropics has never been more pressing. Sustainably managed tropical forests and associated legal and sustainable timber supply chains are vital for ensuring the longevity of tropical forests while addressing both conservation and responsible production and consumption. Timber is one of the most environmentally friendly materials that exists. It is critical to dispel the misconception that harvesting in a tropical forest leads or contributes to deforestation. Timber, when sourced, processed and used legally and sustainably, is a renewable, carbon-storing and recyclable material – a cornerstone of sustainability.

Sustainable timber harvesting provides forest owners with revenue to maintain their forests. However, further efforts are needed to place robust, verifiable information on the legality and sustainability of tropical wood and tropical wood products in the marketplace to enable consumers to support and reward the efforts of timber suppliers who are managing their forests legally and sustainably. Such valuable resources also generate employment for local people, including local communities and indigenous people. Malaysia, for one, has tremendous experience in how much benefits can be derived from value-adding and processing of wood resources. Further investments accompanied by appropriate fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are urgently needed to realize the full potential of tropical forests and wood industries to provide efficient and cost-effective nature-based solutions for a sustainable future.

My keynote address will highlight major global changes in tropical wood production, consumption and trade in the last three decades, and their impacts on SFM. It will also showcase examples and other initiatives that illustrate the potential of sustainable tropical forestry to uplift livelihoods, conserve forests and provide multiple benefits worth replicating and escalating across the tropics, which in turn, will greatly contribute to global sustainable development.

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Session 1: Valuing our Forest - 
Future Directions and Policies

This session explores the intricate balance required to ensure the continued health and prosperity of our invaluable forested landscapes by examining the inherent value of our forests through the multifaceted contributions they make to our ecosystems, economies, and overall well-being, and the myriad challenges that pose threats to the conservation and sustainable management of these vital natural resources.

  1. Creating and enhancing values of our forests, adopting SFM that benefits people, biodiversity and business.
  2. Multifaceted challenges faced by forestry, ranging from issues such as market access and demand for sustainable products, resistance from local community, poor economic scale and many more.
  3. Global trends in SFM and creating demand for sustainable tropical timber.

Mr Yong Teng Koon 

Mr Yong Teng Koon served the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) for 20 years from November 2001 to July 2021.  He joined MTCC as Manager in-charge of forest management certification, promoted to Senior Manager (Forest Management) in September 2006 and further promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in January 2013. He retired from MTCC in July 2021. 

Prior to joining MTCC, Yong was attached to the Forest Management Unit of the Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia Headquarters for 17 years from 1984 to 2001. 

Yong holds a Bachelor Degree on Forestry from Universiti Putra Malaysia (1984) and a Master Degree in Forest Management from University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada (1996).

Dr. Lyndall Bull  


Dr. Lyndall Bull is a Forestry Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In her work at FAO she focuses on innovation in the forest sector and the development of a sustainable forest-based bioeconomy. 

Lyndall has extensive experience across the global forest sector including in forest product innovation development and management, policy and research. Lyndall has worked in a senior capacity in the government, private and education sectors. She has a Phd in innovation in the forest sector from the University of Melbourne.

Prior to joining FAO, Lyndall was the founder of a consulting business providing services to the global forest sector and was a Non-Executive Director for two of Australia’s largest forest owners.

Topic  (Please Click to expand)

Title of presentation: The role of innovation to support sustainable supply and demand of forest products in a growing bioeconomy

This presentation will describe the important roles that forests and forest products play in responding to the interlinked challenges of nature loss, climate change and increasing demand for materials. It will consider global trends around forest resources, restoration needs and forest product demand. It will introduce the concept of the bioeconomy and provide an overview of the wide range of forest product innovations that are available to substitute for non renewable products in a bioeconomy. Finally, the presentation will provide insights into the outlook for forest products and offer policy considerations for the long term sustainable supply of forest products. 

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Prof.  Emeritus Dr. Kanehiro Kitayama 


Prof. Emeritus Dr. Kanehiro Kitayama received Ph.D. from Botany Dept., University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1992. He was Professor of Forest Ecology at the Kyoto University, Japan, until his retirement in March 2023. For his contribution to research and science in academia, he was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor by the university. He has been involved in research pertaining to tropical forest ecology with four decades of experience. His main research concerns include topics in plant – soil – nutrient dynamics and incorporating that into sustainable forestry. He is the author of more than 170 papers published in international journals. His main research site is in Sabah, particularly in the tropical montane forest on Mount Kinabalu and in the lowland forests of Deramakot Forest Reserve. He intends to continue contributing to the growth of research on forest ecology, management, and conservation in Malaysia through shared knowledge and collaboration with relevant agencies.

Topic  (Please Click to expand)

Title of presentation: Internalizing ecosystem services in sustainable forestry by mapping biodiversity and carbon in production forests

Conservation of ecosystem services is increasingly being sought in production forests in tropical countries. Foresters are required to verify environmental safeguards for conserving ecosystems services in their management units. On the other hand, if environmental safeguards are verified with quantitative indicators and reported in a transparent way, it will invite a wide array of supports from various stakeholders, which will eventually improve the market access of produced timber with added values. However, until recently, there was no reliable method to quantitively evaluate spatial and temporal changes of ecosystem services in production forests. I and colleagues developed a new method, “biodiversity observation for land and ecosystem health (BOLEH)”, to simultaneously evaluate biodiversity and carbon density on a landscape scale in production forests in Sabah. In this method, forest intactness as a surrogate of biodiversity as well as carbon density are simultaneously mapped with 30x30 m pixels over the entire area of a management unit (in the order of 100,000 ha). We tested the applicability of our method in nine forest management units in Sabah, Sarawak and East Kalimantan. Further, our method was used for MRV (measuring, reporting and verifying) of the new FSC institution “Ecosystem Services Certification” in the concession of PT Ratah Timber, East Kalimantan, and the company successfully received an ecosystem-service certification for biodiversity in 2020. I will briefly introduce the procedure of this method and discuss the benefits of internalizing ecosystem services in forest management.

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Mr Rupert Oliver  


Mr Rupert Oliver is the Environmental Policy Director for the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies, who now market and sell their products in significant volumes all around the world. Rupert has over 30 years’ experience in the international forest products sector specialising in hardwood market intelligence and trade analysis, marketing and promotion, international trade issues, forest policy and sustainability, life cycle assessment and other environmental issues. Between 2014 and 2021 he was lead technical consultant to the FLEGT Independent Market Monitoring (IMM) project, hosted by the ITTO where he was responsible for assessing the market impact of FLEGT licensing systems implemented under the terms of Voluntary Partnership Agreements between the EU and tropical timber supplying countries. He has a Masters degree in Forest Business Administration from Aberdeen University and Honours Degree from Oxford University. 

Topic  (Please Click to expand)

Title of presentation: Demonstrating the sustainability of hardwood products in global markets: new challenges and innovative solutions

Drawing on 30 years of experience, he will demonstrate that the policy environment around sustainable forest management and the international hardwood trade has entered a radical new phase. New challenges and opportunities are emerging in the wake of the COVID pandemic and with a rapidly evolving geopolitical environment, rising concern for climate change, and a critical need to shift to more sustainable forms of consumption. In the EU, the forest policy focus has shifted away from FLEG and timber legality verification with rising concern for the carbon emissions of “forest-risk” products and the requirement that these be tracked to deforestation-free harvest geolocations. Elsewhere, national governments and the private sector are clamouring for a renewed focus on national sustainable forest programs and for greater consistency in policy making and the demands placed on the forest products trade. Lack of such consistency will create new trade barriers, particularly for smallholders, SMEs and manufacturers of composite products, for which supply chains are more complex. The good news is that there is growing awareness that the causes of deforestation lie outside the hardwood sector and that sustainably managed hardwood products offer significant environmental advantages compared to competing materials. Furthermore, innovative new approaches to sustainability verification in the forest products sector, drawing on the latest technology and a better understanding of the causes of deforestation, can be more cost-effective, accurate and equitable.

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Dr. Alain Karsenty 


Dr. ​Alain Karsenty, environmental economist, is Senior Scientist at CIRAD (Montpellier, France) since 1992. His research and expertise area cover most of the economic instruments for the environment, including ecological taxation, Payments for Environmental Services (PES) and REDD+. He has an extensive knowledge of land tenure, concessions, forest policies and practices in West & Central Africa and Madagascar, his main fieldworks. As an international consultant for ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organisation), the World Bank, the EU, FAO, etc., he participated in several policy and economic reforms processes with national teams in Africa. He is the authors of dozens of scientific articles, and co-authored several books and special issues. He was, for 10 years, member of the scientific board of the French GEF (FFEM), he is an advisor for the L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration, and member of the Board of Directors of ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux).

Topic  (Please Click to expand)

Title of presentation: PES, biodiversity certificates and other economic instruments for responsible forest concessions

Economic instruments are generally designed to provide incentives (and sometimes disincentives) to economic agents. One attractive instrument is Payments for Environmental Services, whether backed by the carbon market or funded by fees/taxes collected at national level. However, an important condition is additionality of the results, to avoid paying for business-as-usual, a not that simple notion. Carbon credits number and value will be indexed on both results and carbon prices, while non-carbon PES are generally indexed on the opportunity cost of modifying management practices. Some activities, such as increasing felling cycle length or increase minimum diameter of cutting can be eligible activities.

Biodiversity credits or certificate, as framed in the international discussions, are more contribution instruments for rewarding biodiversity net gains, then offsetting instruments. Basically, their purchase by corporations allows them to make claims that reflect the amount invested in biodiversity schemes, without opening rights to “develop” another ecosystem.

Until recently, little or no use was made of fiscal instruments for forest protection in developing countries. The rise of independent third-party certification systems since the 1990s open new perspectives for using taxation as an incentive. Fiscal incentives, through tax cuts for responsible producers, could compensate for the absence of price premiums but would diminish public revenues. The principle of the ‘‘bonus-malus’’ (feebates) seems promising to the extent that it does not reduce government budgetary revenues (budget neutrality).

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