Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) to collaborate in promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) and optimal use of forest resources through the application of knowledge and technology, generated through scientific research and development activities.
The signing ceremony was formalised between UTP Vice Chancellor, Datuk Ir (Dr) Abdul Rahim Hj. Hashim and FRIM Director General, Dato’ Dr Abd Latif Mohmod. Also present as witnesses were UTP Chief Financial Officer, En. Hasbullah Hj Ihsan and FRIM Senior Research Officer, Forest Biodiversity Division, Dr Lillian Chua.
The signing of this MOU is another important milestone for UTP’s journey towards becoming a recognised higher learning institution. The significant alliance with FRIM will augur well towards the holistic development of both parties and further help UTP to remain relevant to the industry and nation at large.
Datuk Ir (Dr) Abdul Rahim said that, “Within UTP’s 1,000-acre campus area, there exists four endangered tree species namely Vatica flavida (resak padi), Shorea hemsleyana (cengal pasir daun besar), Shorea macrantha (kepong hantu) and Aquilaria malaccensis (karas). These four species have been touted as our nation’s heritage and FRIM has been supporting us by coming in once a month to check on these trees and at the same time, conserving them. Through this collaboration, the university provides FRIM access to our forest areas to conduct research activities and the findings will be shared with UTP community in the future.”
Abdul Rahim also expressed hope that this initiative will help to enhance the UTP campus community’s appreciation of the importance of conserving threatened species and its habitats, and the benefits of rehabilitating degraded sites.
Dato’ Dr Abd Latif Mohmod said this collaboration is in line with FRIM’s mission to develop appropriate knowledge and technology for conservation, management, development and use of forest resources; and its pursuit of excellence in scientific R&D and technology transfer in the forestry sector.
“Close to a century of R&D in forestry and forest products has allowed FRIM to play a role in the protection and conservation of Malaysia’s natural resources. This has considerably enhanced our capacity to undertake sustainable management of our forest resources and address national and global concerns with regards to biodiversity loss and degradation of natural environments,” he said.
Abd Latif said plant conservation research in UTP began in 2007 when FRIM initiated the search for the Critically Endangered dipterocarp species, Dipterocarpus semivestitus (keruing padi) and this had led to the discovery of the three other endangered species Vatica flavida (resak padi), Shorea hemsleyana (cengal pasir daun besar), Shorea macrantha (kepong hantu) in Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Sri Iskandar campus and UTP campus in Tronoh.
“Continuing our efforts in saving rare and threatened tree species is the discovery of 44 mature trees of Aquilaria malaccensis (karas) between 2011 and 2013. Wild stocks of karas trees are heavily sought after for its pricey agarwood or gaharu. Untouched populations are hard to find, and it is gratifying to note that UTP has healthy and undamaged trees in significant numbers. The secured campus ground has ensured the safety of all tree populations,” he said.
Apart from the conservation of natural resources, he said FRIM’s vast experience in rehabilitation of degraded areas is another area of possible collaboration with UTP.
“Massive land use changes had taken place in this district of Perak Tengah in the long and recent history. There is the urgent need to enhance the green lung attributes and in this respect, the role played by UTP is extremely important,” he added.
About Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) is one of the leading institutions in tropical forestry research in the world. Founded in 1929, the former Forest Research Institute became a fully-fledged statutory body, governed by the Malaysian Forest Research and Development Board (MFRDB) under the Ministry of Primary Industries, in 1985. Presently, both FRIM and MFRDB are under the purview of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The Institute sits on a 544-ha site adjacent to the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve in the Kepong municipality, 16 km northwest of Kuala Lumpur. FRIM was awarded the MS ISO 9001:2000 certification in December 2007. It was gazetted as a natural heritage on 10 February 2009 under the National Heritage Act 2005, and officially declared as a National Heritage on 10 May 2012. The Institute is helmed by Dato’ Dr Abd Latif Mohmod as its Director General.
FRIM’s research activities are organised under the following divisions:
To focus on the development of R, D and C towards improvement on durability, service life and utilisation of wood resources and ligno-cellulosic materials available for producing various high quality/value-added products.
Economic & Strategic Analysis
To conduct socio-economic research and strategic analysis on forestry and environmental issues for national development.
The results of FRIM’s research are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and also transferred to relevant government agencies involved in overseeing and managing forests, as well as forest-related industries.
FRIM researchers have acquired a sound track record over the years winning innumerable awards for their work. The awards included those for research on rubber wood utilisation at the International Cologne Furniture Fair (1995); and for its oil palm fibre extractor at the 25th Geneva International Invention Exhibition (1997); the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO) Scientific Achievement Award (1995, 2000 & 2010); Toray International Science Award (1999); PETRONAS Inventor’s Awards (1992, 1994); National Inventor’s Award (1995 & 1997); MINDEX/INNOTEX Award (1993, 1995); Langkawi Award (1991); Public Services Department Award (1996); National Science Award (1993); and Japanese International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers (2009 & 2013). In 2009, FRIM received the Nikkei Asia Award for its contribution to environmental protection in the region and the Mahathir Science Award in recognition of its contribution to the research and development of the country’s rubberwood industry. Among others, FRIM also won the National Book Award (2010 & 2012) for the best technical book category; the Brand Laureate Awards 2010-2011 & 2012 for the Best Brand in Forestry–Environment Conservation; the International Socrates Award for Best Enterprise (Applied Research & Scientific Achievements) Award 2011; Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Science and Technology Prize 2012; and the International Diamond Prize 2012 for excellence in quality. Recently, FRIM received Anugerah Inovasi Negara 2013 for the High Temperature Drying (HTD) System for lumber treatment.