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Teak in Malaysia - Dr. I. Zakaria and Mr. N. Lokmal

I. Zakaria and N. Lokmal

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)

Kepong, 52109 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Malaysia is located north of the equator within latitudes of 1-7° North and longitudes of 100-119° East. The total land area is approximately 32.9 million ha, which includes 13.1 million ha in Peninsular Malaysia, 7.4 million ha in Sabah, and 12.4 million ha in Sarawak. Peninsular Malaysia is 720 km from Sabah and Sarawak, separated by the South China Sea. The country has a coastline of almost 4,830 km.

The total forested area in Malaysia is estimated to be 19.05 million ha (including 0.17 million ha of plantation forests), of which 5.89 million ha is in Peninsular Malaysia, 4.50 million ha in Sabah, and 8.66 million ha in Sarawak.

Teak is an exotic species to Malaysia and was first introduced from Burma to Peninsular Malaysia in 1915 in Pulau Langkawi, Kedah. Subsequently, teak seeds from India, Thailand and Laos were introduced.


Most of the teak plantations (2,852 ha) can be found in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia - especially in Kedah and Perlis. Perlis, being the northern-most state of Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand, has a similar climate to southern Thailand, i.e. with a distinct dry period of three months from December to February.

However, teak plantations are also found in the state of Sabah (607 ha) and other states of Peninsular Malaysia (500 ha) that have been planted by private owners and villages.

Most of the teak seeds for these plantations were obtained from the teak seed production area located in the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) field station in state of Perlis and from the Forestry Department, Kedah.


Teak research in Malaysia was started in the early 1950s by FRIM. This was the result of extensive teak planting in the state of Perlis and Kedah. The main areas of research at the time were nursery techniques, silviculture and management. In the 1980s, a teak improvement programme was started with the establishment of seed stands, plus tree selection (120 plus trees), source bush and clonal seed orchards (1 ha). With regard to silviculture management, techniques have been established and used in planting guidelines, such as: a spacing of 5 m × 4 m; the first commercial thinning at the eighth year; and the final harvesting at the fifteenth year with dbh of 30 cm.

On wood product research, the timber has been tested and samples of teak furniture were produced.


In recent years, in addition to the government’s teak plantations, a number of semi-government agencies, private companies and small holders are expressing a very keen interest to plant teak.

An encouraging feature in teak planting in Malaysia is the involvement of the private sector and small-holders. FRIM is promoting a “Teak Planting Adoption Scheme”, under which FRIM will provide planting materials at a nominal cost and free technical advice to farmers who have less then 4 ha of land. The most remarkable concept of planting teak under this scheme is to reduce the rotation period of teak plantations to 15 years with commercial thinning at the eighth year. It is expected that another 5,000 ha of teak plantations will be established in the next five years during 1996-2000.


Through this seminar and the formation of TEAKNET, FRIM hopes that there will be an active exchange of teak research materials and technologies of teak planting and management that could benefit the participating countries.

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