Global production of wood products is at its highest growth in 70 years

The global production and trade of wood products, such as sawn wood, round wood and others have reached record highs since the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) began recording forest statistics in 1947.

On the rise

In 2018, record levels of wood products were traded around the world and the value of international trade grew 11% compared to 2017 statistics. The areas that saw the most significant growth were: North America, Europe and the Asian-Pacific region.

The production of sawn wood grew by 2% in 2018 and the manufacture of both sawn timber and panels also reached new record highs, equivalent to 188 million tonnes and 66 million tonnes respectively. Over the same period, there was a rise in round wood production around the world, and its manufacture increased by 5% and reached a record output of 3.03 billion cubic metres. China also grew in prominence in this area and held a whopping 25% share of imports. New Zealand overtook the Russian Federation and became 2018’s top exporter of industrial round wood.

Senior Forestry Officer, Sven Walter, said: “The increased production of renewable forest products provides an opportunity to replace fossil-based products that have a higher carbon footprint, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals,” Sven Walter heads FAO’s forest products and statistics team. 

Turning to timber

It’s fantastic that wood production is increasing and timber products are replacing less environmentally-friendly alternatives such as steel, aluminium and concrete. However, these numbers mean there is a greater need than ever to make sure the wood we source for construction and other industries is sustainably sourced from well-managed forests. Otherwise we could again be fuelling the destruction of the natural world. 

The increasing global demand for low-cost timber supports the multi-million dollar illegal logging of forests across the world. This illegal logging accounts for up to 10% of the worldwide production of wood products. However, when it comes to the world’s most valuable forests, such as the Amazon, it represents between 40-50% of the logging volume in these regions. 

Feeling the strain

Native forests can’t sustainably meet the current global demand for forestry products (wood, paper, etc). The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) states that approximately 24.7 million acres of plantations exist worldwide to meet this soaring demand. While these plantations take the pressure off the native forests and help meet the high needs for timber, there are many negative impacts in converting native forests to plantations, such as loss of the natural ecosystem and habitats for wildlife. 

The increase in global timber demand needs to be carefully managed so as not to destroy more of our precious natural forests. 

Doing our bit

At EcoChoice, we promote and sell timber sourced sustainably from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forests. This means that the forests are well managed and you’ll know precisely where your wood came from. FSC-managed forests meet the highest environmental and social standards. Every tree that is cut down is either replanted or allowed to regrow naturally. This protects the local environment, people and the ecosystem of the forest. When you choose FSC-certified timber from EcoChoice or any other supplier, you’re helping to support our forests.

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