Wood production grows globally for four years

TimberGlobal production of all major wood products continued to show steady growth in 2013 for the fourth consecutive year, according to new data published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

While the production of industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood pellets and wood-based panels had fully recovered from the economic downturn in 2008-2009, global production of pulp and paper stagnated in 2012-13, largely due to a decline in consumption in China, where electronic publishing is increasingly being used instead of traditional printing processes.

The report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday by Irina Utkina, FAO Media Relations Officer in Rome, said wood production in 2013 exceeded the pre-recession level of 2007 in all product groups, except for sawnwood.

According to the report, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, and Northern America had seen the fastest recovery in wood production.

It said recovery in Europe slowed down in 2012 and had yet to recover especially in Western and Southern Europe where production and consumption fell in 2012-13 for some products such as industrial roundwood and wood-based panels.

Wood pellet production soared to an all-time high in 2013, mainly driven by bioenergy policies and consumption targets in Europe, according to FAO’s latest data.

It said global production of wood pellets grew by 12 per cent in 2013, reaching 22 million tonnes, with over half of this; 13 million tonnes being traded internationally.

The report noted that markets for wood pellets were dominated by Europe and Northern America, which accounted for almost all global production 62 per cent and 34 per cent respectively and consumption of 81 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in 2013.

It said trade in pellets from Northern America to Europe, mainly the UK, also doubled in 2013 from the previous year.

It said in China, production of paper and consumption of pulp and wastepaper – the two main products used to manufacture paper – declined slightly by one percent in 2013 for the first time after 38 years of uninterrupted growth.

It said the downturn in the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper was largely responsible for the stagnation in global pulp and paper production in 2013.

“The developments in Chinese paper consumption are worth noting for the future,” said Adrian Whiteman, FAO Senior Forest Economist. “If people in China are switching to electronic media as so many of us have in the West, this will be the end of one of the few remaining centres of growth in printing and writing paper consumption”.

The report said in contrast to this, China continued to increase in importance as a producer and consumer of other forest products.

It said in 2013 the country overtooked a number of other major countries in different product groups, for example, Canada in sawnwood production and the United States of America in sawnwood consumption.

It said China’s imports of industrial roundwood and sawnwood also surged by 18 per cent and reached record levels in 2013.

The report said production and consumption of wood-based panels and sawnwood appears to be growing strongly in most regions.

It said in 2013, global sawnwood production totalled 421 million cubic metres, representing an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to 2012 and an increase of 22 per cent from 2009.

It said sawnwood production had been recovering gradually over the period 2009-13, largely due to production growth in three regions: Europe, Northern America and Asia-Pacific; stating that in contrast, production in Africa and Latin America and Caribbean remained modest over the same period.

The report said in 2013, global wood-based panel production surged to a new record high of 358 million cubic metres – up by 7.8 per cent from 2012 and 35 per cent from 2009.

It said wood-based panels were the only product category that did not contract during the recent recession and their production had been growing steadily.

According to the report, “this is due to rapid and consistent growth in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions, where production has increased by 59 per cent and 23 per cent respectively over the period 2009-13”.

Source: GNA

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