Global production of wood products sees largest increase in 70 years

Global production of wood products sees largest increase in 70 years

Fao says demand comes from economic growth in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific

19 December 2019, Rome – The production and trade of the world's leading wood products, such as logs, sawn timber and wood-based panels, reached their highest level since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recorded forest statistics in 1947.

According to the latest data provided today by FAO, the volume of wood-based products produced and marketed worldwide in 2018 has reached a record high. The increase in the level of international trade was 11 per cent compared to 2017.

"Increased production of renewable forest products replaces fossil products, which have a higher carbon footprint, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals," said Mr.  Sven Walter, Senior Forest Officer, who heads FAO's Forest Products and Statistics team.

This is the fastest increase ever seen in the North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific region and is largely due to positive economic growth.

World sawn wood production increased by 2 per cent in 2018 and the volume of sawn wood and wood-based panels increased by a record high. Global wood pulp production and trade also increased by 2 per cent and reached new volumes in 2018 – 188 million and 66 million tonnes respectively.

China is a more important producer and consumer of forest products and has recently outperformed U.S. sawn timber production. The country is by far the largest producer and consumer of wood-based panels and paper.

In 2018, imports of logs increased by 8 percent in China, while its production and consumption of sawn wood and wood-based panels continued to grow faster than in the rest of the world.

Strong growth in clumping panels and oriented chip panels (OSB)

Global production of agglomerated panels and OSB panels, which are typically used as construction and furnishing materials, grew at the fastest rate of any wood-derived product category, rising 25 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from 2014 to 2018. The increase in demand for these products came mainly from Eastern Europe, including the Russian Federation.

In 2018, industrial production of logs increased by 5 per cent worldwide to a record 2.03 billion cubic metres. World trade rose by a record 7 per cent to 138 million cubic metres, with China accounting for 25 per cent of imports. In 2018, New Zealand overtook the Russian Federation and became the world's largest exporter of industrial logs.

In contrast, global paper and cardboard production fell by 2 per cent in 2018. Paper production stagnated in Europe and North America and declined in the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.

Printing and writing paper production fell by 4 per cent, the lowest level since 1996, as a result of digital technologies.

The rise of wood pellets is confirmed

The production of wood pellets has increased dramatically in recent years, mainly due to the growing demand generated by the European Commission's bioenergy targets. In 2018, world production subsequently increased by about 11 per cent, reaching a volume of 37 million tonnes, providing opportunities to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Europe and North America account for the largest share of world production, however, production in the Asia-Pacific region doubled, registering a 15 per cent increase between 2014 and 2018.

New data available

In addition to information on new products, FAO is now providing global data that describes the production and trade of after-consumption recovery wood, including timber that can be reused. In 2018, the consumption of after-consumption recovery wood exceeded 27 million tonnes.

"These new data are useful for monitoring the sustainable circular bioeconomy and understanding the life cycle of harvested forest products," said Walter.

The amount of information available on the reuse of forest products is constantly increasing. Earlier this year, the FAO Forest Products and Statistics team reported the results of the 2017 statistical survey on the use of recycled paper by country and sector.

Via @FAOForestry

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