Rubber wood finds its place in the market

Rubber-wood, scientifically known as Heveabrasiliensis, is a tree native to Brazil, but is today extensively cultivated in tropical regions, especially in Asia. The rubber tree grows to a height of 23-30 metres, and has a trunk diameter of approximately 1 metre.

Tapping of rubber trees for latex, starts in the 5th to 7th year after planting and then continues for 25 to 30 years.

The wood from the rubber tree has now become the raw material for a wide variety of products of varying quality; substituting timber from the natural forests.

More than 80% of the 7.2 million hectares of plantations established worldwide for latex production in 1999 are in South-East Asia; 70% are in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. For decades, Malaysia had the largest area, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.

Fresh wood has an initial moisture content of 60-80%. The timber tends to develop seasoning defects such as cupping, twisting, bowing and checking, particularly in heartwood from the centre of the stem.


Rubber-wood has traditionally been used as a cheap source of fuel in most of the countries where rubber plantations are abundant. Being naturally non-durable, rubber-wood is not economically usable without preservative treatment.

Its favourable woodworking and timber properties make it suitable for a wide scope of applications and its most important uses are in furniture and furniture parts, parquet, panelling, wood-based panels (particle board, cement- and gypsum-bonded panels, medium-density fibreboard) and kitchen and novelty items, and as sawn timber for general utility and fuel.

Rubber-wood has a number of advantages over conventional timbers from the natural forest. Because it is a plantation by-product, it is available at relatively low cost.

The introduction of Scandinavian design and quality concepts into processing and increasing investments have assisted South-East Asian production of furniture, furniture parts and other products for the East Asian, Australian and US markets. Rubber-wood has thus become a South-East Asian success story.



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