Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor
Researchers from the Development Center for Bogor Forest Products recently completed the construction of 10 houses near Cifor forest in Bogor's Sindangbarang Jero village.
The stilt houses, made from coconut and sengon trees, form part of the team's research into wood preservation methods.
The head of the development center's research evaluation unit, Suhariyanto, said public knowledge about timber varieties was extremely limited, which contributed heavily to deforestation.
"People are only familiar with teak, meranti and ramin wood, which they use to build their houses with or make furniture from, and supplies are becoming less and less.
"Indonesia has 4,000 types of timber, including trees that commonly grow near homes such as coconut, mango, durian, sengon and acacia mangium trees. These types of timber are good for building houses that would last for at least 50 years if the timber was preserved properly," he told The Jakarta Post recently.
He said some types of timber, including sengon, were resistant to termites.
Researcher Efrida Basri, who specializes in wood drying, said if proper preservation methods were used, common types of wood could become reliable substitutes for conventional types of wood taken from endangered forests.
"People only collect fruit from common types of trees. This type of mind-set needs to change if we want to see our forests last," she said.
Efrida said the use of better preservation methods could make the export of commonly found trees in Indonesia quite lucrative.
She said traditional methods of preserving wood, such as drying it under the sun, resulted in Indonesian wood continuing to be of a low quality.
"But wood-steaming machines are relatively expensive for small-scale plantation owners," she said.
Efrida said the center had designed wood steamers for the wider community to use.
Home-industry businesses in Bogor and other areas of West Java, Papua, Aceh and Central Java already use wood steamers in their day-to-day production.