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Group Certification of Rubber Smallholders under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS)

The Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council (MFPC) is in the process of certify rubber wood as sustainable wood in line with FSCs request for rubber wood to be included as a tropical wood for environmental sustainable certification.

This affecting the entry of rubber wood furniture into the EU market.

The furniture industry in Malaysia continue to lead the growth of the wood-processing industry. Under the National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP), furniture export is expected to contribute RM16billion out of the total RM53 billion wood exports by year 2020.

Group Certification of Rubber Wood is different to the ordinary certification of forest timber. It is a pilot study to ensure whether it can be done in Malaysia.

The certification project is to fulfill the requirement by the international buyers with environmental and green issues. Besides, the certification will increase better price for certified rubber wood, hence benefit the smallholders. Not to lose the international market, the Government need to act fast.

In the international market, due to the green and environment issues, buyers are demanding for timber and timber products that are certified to legality and sustainability. To meet the market demand for legal and sustainable materials, manufacturers have to be alert to it in order to remain competitive. As a major player of furniture in the international market, furniture manufacturers in Malaysia are under pressure to supply furniture made from certified timber as the legality of rubber wood is a temporary measure as the market is looking forward to both sustainable and legality.

Rubber Tree (Heveabrasiliensis) was introduced to Malaya 100 years ago. The wood from the tree has been traditionally regarded as a waste, but since the 1980s it has found widespread utilization in the wood industry. Today, rubber wood contributes at 80% of the total exported value of wooden furniture.

Rubber wood is referred as an environmental friendly material with a low price, but issues related to its sustainable supply are becoming a major concern nowadays. The total area of rubber plantation has been steadily declining over the years as planters claimed less profit and shifted to oil palm cultivation.

Rubber wood group certification is never done before in Malaysia. Some challenges as follow:

1) there will be some drawback whereby failure of one area in meeting the requirement will be causing whole group failure in obtaining the certification.

2) very high cost and time consuming process as this was experienced by development of the Forest Law and Enforcement and Governance Trade (FLEGT)

3) not a big problem on big plantation groups; as they are aware and ready for the certification but on how we are going to get nearly 95%rubberwood source which is small holders to be certified

The main objectives of the Pilot Study on Group Certification of Rubber Smallholders under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) Scheme are to :

1) Assess the feasibility of implementing group certification of rubber smallholdings under the MTCS, including information on the cost of group certification

2) Develop a user friendly manual on the requirements of the Malaysian Criteria and Indicators (MC & I) (Forest Plantation) and how rubber smallholders can meet these requirements under a grouping certificate

3) Develop and documented the administrative arrangements for managing a group of smallholders from certification under the MTCS

1)  Rubber wood is the main timber material used by the Malaysian furniture industry and it is mainly harvested from smallholdings. It is therefore recognized that certifying rubberwoood as a sustainable resource could be quite different as compared with timber from natural forests or forest plantations.

2)  In Malaysia, latex production is the main commodity from rubber estates and smallholdings. Rubber wood is a mere by-product or agriculture timber which is used to be thrown away and burnt. There is no value on the rubber wood when it was three decades ago.

3)  The planting regime particularly in smallholdings, therefore would not be the same as that practiced in the forest plantations and the smallholders may have difficulty in meeting the requirements of the forest plantation standard used in the MTCS i.e. MC&I especially those relating to social and environmental aspects.

4)  The number and size of these smallholdings also pose a different challenge in certifying these areas under any existing certification scheme. According to source from RISDA, there are currently about 256,069 smallholdings in Peninsular Malaysia with an average size of 1.5 hectares each. Group certification of these smallholders has therefore been suggested in order to achieve the economies of scale that is need.

5)  As rubber smallholdings have yet to certify under any certification scheme, and group certification has so far not been carried out in Malaysia, it is therefore proposed that a Pilot Study on Group Certification of Rubber Smallholders under the MTCS be carried out.

Sabah Rubber Industry Board  :


A commercial rubber plantation project by Bornion Timber Sdn Bhd, covering 35,000ha in far-flung Sook, 75km from Keningau, is expected to generate 8,750 jobs.

11,000ha had already been planted, with 200ha ready to be tapped.

Launching the tapping of the mature rubber trees, state Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said locals in the area would be given priority to work in the plantation.

The project will go a long way towards improving the livelihood of the local community."

As at April 2012, about 60,000ha of the 103,700ha, approved for forest plantation projects, had been planted with various species of selected trees, including rubber.

The Malaysian Timber Industry Board, through its subsidiary Forest Plantation Development Sdn Bhd (FPDSB), had to date given out loans amounting to more than RM608 million to 47 individuals involved in forest plantations.

Bornion Timber is among some of the companies that has benefited from the FPDSB loan scheme.

The company's rubber plantation is within the sustainable forest management area awarded to it by the state government in 1997.

Under the FPDSB loan scheme, 40,000ha approved for forest plantations were in the peninsula, 37,000ha in Sarawak and 26,000ha in Sabah.

About 54 per cent of the approved forest plantation areas have been planted with high-yielding rubber trees.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the material, natural rubber, for other uses see Rubber (disambiguation)

Rubber is an elastic hydrocarbon polymer which occurs as a milky emulsion (known as latex) in the sap of several varieties of plants. Rubber can also be produced synthetically.

Synthetic rubber is made through the polymerisation of a variety of monomers to produce polymers. These form part of a broad study covered by Polymer science and Rubber technology.

The major commercial source of natural latex used to create rubber is the Para rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis (Euphorbiaceae). This is largely because it responds to wounding by producing more latex. Henry Wickham gathered thousands of seeds from Brazil in 1876 and they were germinated in Kew Gardens, England. The seedlings were sent to Colombo, Indonesia, and Singapore.

Other plants containing latex include figs, (Ficus elastica), euphorbias, and the common dandelion. Although these have not been major sources of rubber, Germany attempted to use such sources during World War II when it was cut off from rubber supplies. These attempts were later supplanted by the development of synthetic rubber. Its density is 920 kg/m3.


In places like Kerala, India where coconuts are in abundance, the shell of half a coconut is used as the collection container for the latex. The shells are attached to the tree via a short sharp stick and the latex drips down into it overnight. This usually produces latex up to a level of half to three quarters of the shell. The latex from multiple trees is then poured into flat pans, and this is mixed with formic acid, which serves as a coagulant. After a few hours, the very wet sheets of rubber are wrung out by putting them through a press before they are sent onto factories where vulcanization and further processing is done.

Aside from a few natural product impurities, natural rubber is essentially a polymer of isoprene units, a hydrocarbon diene monomer. Synthetic rubber can be made as a polymer of isoprene or various other monomers. Rubber is believed to have been named by Joseph Priestley, who discovered in 1770 that dried latex rubbed out pencil marks. The material properties of natural rubber make it an elastomer and a thermoplastic.

Reuse of PVC container in rubber plantation

The Art of Cutting on a rubber tree


In its native Central America and South America, rubber has been collected for a long time. The Mesoamerican civilizations used rubber mostly from Castilla elastica. The Ancient Mesoamericans had a ball game using rubber balls (see: Mesoamerican ballgame), and a few Pre-Columbian rubber balls have been found (always in sites that were flooded under fresh water), the earliest dating to about 1600 BC. According to Bernal Daz del Castillo, the Spanish Conquistadores were so astounded by the vigorous bouncing of the rubber balls of the Aztecs that they wondered if the balls were enchanted by evil spirits. The Maya also made a type of temporary rubber shoe by dipping their feet into a latex mixture. Rubber was used in various other contexts, such as strips to hold stone and metal tools to wooden handles, and padding for the tool handles. While the ancient Mesoamericans did not have vulcanization, they developed organic methods of processing the rubber with similar results, mixing the raw latex with various saps and juices of other vines, particularly Ipomoea alba, a species of Morning glory. In Brazil the natives understood the use of rubber to make water-resistant cloth. A story says that the first European to return to Portugal from Brazil with samples of such water-repellent rubberized cloth so shocked people that he was brought to court on the charge of witchcraft.

When samples of rubber first arrived in England, it was observed by Joseph Priestley, in 1770, that a piece of the material was extremely good for rubbing out pencil marks on paper (see eraser), hence the name.

The para rubber tree initially grew in South America, where it was the main source of what limited amount of latex rubber was consumed during much of the 19th century. About 100 years ago, the Congo Free State in Africa was a significant source of natural rubber latex, mostly gathered by forced labor. The Congo Free State was forged and ruled as a personal colony by the Belgian King Leopold II where millions of Africans died as a result of lust for rubber and rubber profits. After repeated efforts (see Henry Wickham) rubber was successfully cultivated in Southeast Asia, where it is now widely grown.


Rubber exhibits unique physical and chemical properties.

Rubber's stress-strain behavior exhibits the Mullins effect, the Payne effect and is often modeled as hyperelastic.

Why is rubber elastic?

In most elastic materials, such as metals used in springs, the elastic behaviour is caused by bond distortions. When stress is applied, bond lengths deviate from the (minimum energy) equilibirum and strain energy is stored electrostatically. Rubber is often assumed to behave in the same way, but it turns out this is a poor description. Rubber is a curious material because, unlike metals, strain energy is stored thermally, as well as electrostatically.

In its relaxed state rubber consists of long, coiled-up monomer chains that are interlinked at a few points. Between a pair of links each monomer can rotate freely about its neighbour. This gives each section of chain leeway to assume a large number of geometries, like a very loose rope attached to a pair of fixed points. At room temperature rubber stores enough kinetic energy so that each section of chain oscillates chaotically, like the above piece of rope being shaken violently.

When rubber is stretched the "loose pieces of rope" are taut and thus no longer to able to oscillate. Their kinetic energy is given off as excess heat. Therefore, the entropy decreases when going from the relaxed to the stretched state, and it increases during relaxation. This change in entropy can also be explained by the fact that a tight section of chain can fold in fewer ways (W) than a loose section of chain, at a given temperature (nb. entropy is defined as S=k*ln(W)). Relaxation of a stretched rubber band is thus driven by an increase in entropy, and the force experienced is not electrostatic, rather it is a result of the thermal energy of the material being converted to kinetic energy. Rubber relaxation is endothermic. The material undergoes adiabatic cooling during contraction. This property of rubber can easily be verified by holding a stretched rubber band to your lips and relaxing it.

Stretching of a rubber band is in some ways equivalent to the compression of an ideal gas, and relaxation in equivalent to its expansion. Note that a compressed gas also exhibits "elastic" properties, for instance inside an inflated car tire. The fact that stretching is equivalent to compression may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but it makes sense if rubber is viewed as a one-dimensional gas. Stretching reduces the "space" available to each section of chain.

Vulcanization of rubber creates more disulphide bonds between chains so it makes each free section of chain shorter. The result is that the chains tighten more quickly for a given length of strain. This increases the elastic force constant and makes rubber harder and less extentable.

When cooled below the glass transition temperature, the quasi-fluid chain segments "freeze" into fixed geometries and the rubber abruptly loses its elastic properties, though the process is reversible. This is a property it shares with most elastomers. At very cold temperatures rubber is actually rather brittle; it will break into shards when struck. This critical temperature is the reason that winter tires use a softer version of rubber than normal tires. The failing rubber o-ring seals that contributed to the cause of the Challenger disaster were thought to have cooled below their critical temperature. The disaster happened on an unusually cold day.

Current sources of rubber

Today Asia is the main source of natural rubber. Over half of the rubber used today is synthetic, but several million tonnes of natural rubber are still produced annually, and is still essential for some industries, including automotive and military.

Hypoallergenic rubber can be made from Guayule.

Early experiments in the development of synthetic rubber led to the invention of Silly Putty.

Natural rubber is often vulcanized, a process by which the rubber is heated and sulfur, peroxide or Bisphenol are added to improve resilience and elasticity, and to prevent it from perishing. Vulcanization greatly improved the durability and utility of rubber from the 1830s on. The successful development of vulcanisation is most closely associated with Charles Goodyear. Carbon black is often used as an additive to rubber to improve its strength, especially in vehicle tires.

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