Teak (Tectona grandis) is one of the most premier luxury hardwood timbers in the world. It is native to the Indian-Burmese floristic region and found naturally in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. It was introduced to Sri Lanka due to high quality wood by a Dutchman in 1680. Taungya method and participatory forest projects were two popular methods in establishing Teak Plantations at the beginning. At present teak plantations are maintained on state owned lands, private lands or as farmer woodlots. According to the Sri Lanka Forest Department, the present extent of teak plantation is approximately 45,000 ha which is distributed mainly in dry and low intermediate zones.
Value addition is a concept which an additional value is added to the product or service that has above the baseline. Teak Plantations are mainly managed for commercial purposes. Therefore the private plantation companies who export their timber have more concern about this concept.
Replacing lumber with reconstitute panels, polishing the furniture products, manufacturing timber products according to customer’s requirement, practicing seasoning methods and pre-treatment methods, obtaining certain forest certifications will add values to the end product.
Value additions can be done by increasing tree growth and timber quality of Teak plantations. Genetically improved seeds can be taken from clonal seed orchards, seed production areas.
Tissue culture to develop large scale uniform superior plants can also be practiced. Good silvicultural practices like proper spacing, pruning, weeding, thinning, pest and disease control can be done to produce high quality timber. Teak is grown as mixtures with Jak, Margosa, Eucalypts and Mahogany. Practicing agroforestry systems will provide additional incomes from agri crops and by doing so, the land is maximally utilised. Applications of organic fertilizer, fire management are some eco-friendly forestry practices can add values to the plantation.
Plantations are maintained by using the local labor. Therefore, it is desirable to maintain the structure of the local community in a way that provides a steady supply of reliable workers.
In Sri Lankan context, value additions to the plantation are not practicing properly. Advance silvicultural practices, promoting agroforestry systems, adopting appropriate new technologies and obtaining forest management certifications to the end products are recommended for the teak plantations to add values so that a better price and a better reputation can be obtained.