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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1995

TIMBER CRISIS IN SRI LANKA AND SUBSTITUTION THROUGH
WOOD COMPOSITE MATERIALS


M B Herath
CISIR

Timber is one of the most important raw materials used by man even before the bronze age. In contrast to other materials, timber is known as a living material, and substitution of timber with any other commodity is not an easy proposition. Demand of timber in Sri Lanka is increasing annually. It is distressing to find that in Sri Lanka losses account for more than 40% during the processing of logs to sawn timber.

The conversion of wood waste into composite materials presents one of the best technological solutions available in order to reduce this loss. Timber waste can be converted into several composite materials like lamin wood, blockboard, cemboard etc.. There are several national benefits in the use of lamin wood: savings in the countries gross timber consumption, reduction of environmental problems and saving of foreign exchange. Laminated timber can be manufactured to substitute massive wood beams using low grade timber and wood waste.

However, one major problem prevents the setting up of such an industry in Sri Lanka. The industry does not offer a sufficiently high profile for the investor as the capital investment required is high.

Hence government support for such an enterprise is necessary. The national interest requires a government policy to embark on such a project, particularly when considering the environmental and waste minimisation aspects. Work was carried out and sufficient data is available to commence a pilot plant for the manufacture of laminated timber if interest is shown by an entrepreneur. Currently, negotiations are in progress to start an industry to manufacture usable panel-like materials using wood waste with a cooperative society of timber industrialist in Moratuwa. Here interest is shown not only on profit but on minimising waste reducing environmental pollution etc.


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