Rubber wood, also known as Para wood or Hevea brasiliensis. Rubber wood has been planted extensively in Indonesia for more than one hundred years both by big plantation and small scale plantation spread in Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan Island..
After between 25 to 30 years of age the production of latex become uneconomical and the trees are fell for replanting. Previously the felled trees were of low commercial value and were mainly used as fuel wood, but since the mid 1980s rubber wood become one of the most popular timbers for making furniture and other wood based products. Albizia falcata tree planting become popular in the 70's and taken root mostly in Java Island while Acacia start with Indonesian government driven timber estate scheme in the 90's currently dominate by pulp factories. .
In general rubber wood is homogenous with a pale light cream color with fairly straight grains. The light color of rubber wood is one of the principal reasons for its popularity. The air-dry density is between 560-650 kg/M3. It has good overall wood-working and machining qualities for sawing, boring, turning, nailing and gluing. It takes finishes and stains well. Its strength and mechanical properties are comparable to traditional timbers used for furniture making and wood working
The favorable qualities and its light color have enabled rubber wood to be substituted or used as alternative for Ramin (Gonystylus bancanus). The light color also enabled it to be stained to the desire of the consumers by application of different colored wood-stains.
The issue of sustainability of timber product always becomes a hot topic everywhere. The main argument is timber business equal to natural forest destroyed. Forest considered as an important carbon storage that directly link to global warming.
PT Aria Adiguna Abadi realizes this problem and has shifted its focus to plantation timber for its raw material sources. Indonesia is lucky to have the biggest rubber plantation in the world that could become an alternative to forest as log source.
With 3.3 million hectares in size in 2005, smallholdings made up 85% of natural rubber plantations in the country providing a livelihood for 15 million Indonesians. Around 91% of the smallholdings have been built by small farmers themselves and the rest or around 288,039 hectares have been built by plantation companies in a partnership scheme.
Location of Rubber Plantations
Sumatra has the largest rubber plantations in the country. The plantations in Sumatra are located mainly in South Sumatra which alone has 638,000 hectares in 2005 and in North Sumatra, Riau and Jambi.
Other provinces having large rubber plantations are West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Central Java and West Java.
Different from Sumatra and Kalimantan, rubber plantations in Java are dominated by BUMN and private companies. Smallholdings are dominant in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
When rubber prices fell in 1994-2003, the country's rubber production dropped. Production began to rise when the prices rose in 2004. Production rose from 1.79 million tons in 2003 to 2.06 million tons 2004 and to 2.13 million tons in 2005.
The highest increase in output was recorded by smallholdings when the prices began to rise. The production of plantations owned by the state and private companies did not change much as they already reach the highest productivity. Their production will not change unless there is expansion in plantation areas.
The exorbitant oil price has a positive effect on rubber plantation upkeep and replanting.
Replanting produce a lot of waste in form of logs that become our source of material, a material that we considered as Sustainable.
Rubber plantation has become a long time culture in many places in Indonesia that ensure its long term prospect.
The recent decline of natural forest timber production has drive up the price of timber and in turn drives demand for readily available plantation species other than rubber as well. Interest to plant trees has grown exponentially as result.
In Indonesia trees that has been planted extensively are Sengon (Albizia Falcata) that popular mostly in java, Acacia mangium that mostly planted by timber estate belong to pulp factories,
Mahogany (Swietenia mahogany) mostly planted by small scale farmers, Jabon (antocephalus cadamba).
If tree planting could be considered good business there is no need to worry about sustainability and the natural forest depletion. We need to give more credit to plantation wood product