In the initial stage, SSB intention was to grow softwoods, mainly Pinus caribaea for pulp and timber wood production. However, due to the slow growth of the species and the difficulty in seed procurement, the softwood species were replaced since then with three fast growing hardwoods, namely, Acacia mangium (AM), Gmelina arborea (GA), Albizia falcataria (AF) and later to Eucalyptus pellita (EP).
The current total tree planted area is 24,173 hectares of which are planted with only Eucalyptus pellita and Albizia falcataria yearly. The continuous planting of Acacia mangium in the long term of SSB's tree plantation is no longer feasible in view of Ceratocystis, a serious wilt cranker disease that affected the stem and root of Acacia mangium. It is undoubtedly the most serious threat to Acacia growers since this species was first introduced in South East Asia thirty years ago. Therefore, from year 2012 onwards, most of the affected Acacia mangium planted areas were harvested and replaced with Eucalyptus pellita. As of 31st January, 2017 the remaining areas of Acacia mangium is about 1,705hectares followed by Eucalyptus pellita and Albizia falcataria of 10,139 and 5,787 hectares respectively. Apart from the planted areas, the rest of the tree plantation consist of high value conservation forest, water catchment areas, steep areas, riparian and wildlife corridors.
The Acacia pulp logs are substantially processed into woodchips and export to Japan and China for its pulp and paper industries. Albizia falcataria in bigger log forms and grades are sold to the local market for processing into plywood, veneer and block boards. Eucalyptus pellita and Albizia falcataria constitutes the major supply of pulp and saw logs, replacing Acacia mangium in the long term wood production of Sabah Softwoods tree plantation.
Sabah Softwoods Berhad (SSB) owned the region's most sophisticated chip mill, it is the largest integrated woodchip mill in Sabah and Malaysia. The mill is not only a principal link in Innoprise Corporation Sdn. Bhd's outstanding chain of timber operation, it is a remarkable industrial enterprise in its own right, and a first of its kind in the country. Designed by USA Fulghum Industries, this chip mill is situated at Sg. Udin which is about forty-five minute drive from Tawau town. Installation of machineries was done in May 1997 and completed at the end of October the same year.
The Chipmill commenced production of woodchips in 1998 and this activity has propelled SSB as a leading supplier of woodchips from Malaysia with an annual production volume of 180,000 Green Metric Tons (GMT) which is equivalent to about 100,000 Bone Dry Metric Tons (BDMT).
The chip mill is the only mill in the country designed to process high volume of pulp logs planted from tree plantation of fast growing tree species at a low cost. The main source of woodchips comes from Acacia mangium trees. The woodchips are mainly exported to Japan, china and a few local woods based industries in Malaysia, The chip mill´s operation was certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and "Chain-Of-Custody"(COC) certification for wood based manufacturing in Acacia mangium woodchips products. Both certifications provides a guarantee on the production of FSC® certified products at premium price. Distinct and identifiable procedures are in place to track raw materials from the source, all stages of processing and eventual distribution in compliance to the stringent standard of FSC® certification.
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)
Being a pioneer in large-scale commercial forest plantation, SSB is already FSC® certified since 2007 with 30,000
hectares of the tree plantation areas, planted prior to 1994. The tree plantation was successfully re-certified for another 5 years (2014-2019) under the FSC® Certification Scheme, which is for the second cycle since 2007. The re-certification covers the period between October 2012 and
October 2017, making SSB's tree plantation the longest period certified as well-managed plantation certification under the Scientific Certification System (SCS) Qualifor
Through this certification, our tree plantation products has gained wider market acceptance and at the same time fetch premium prices. The financial benefits gained for being
FSC® certified would be greater than the expected additional expenses invested towards achieving and maintaining the FSC® status. The main goal of
the company has turned to reality, where SSB is even more committed to sustain our venture in the tree plantation within FSC® charter. The social and
environmental benefits attributable to maintaining FSC® status is tremendous for tree plantation the size of SSB, particularly in the form of employment to the
surrounding communities, improvement in plantation to natural environment (protection of water catchments, natural habitat, wildlife, etc) and of course the positive
contribution towards Carbon sequestration.