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Sustainable and innovative forest products as well as improved processes for construction, energy and daily use—key topics at this year’s UNECE Timber Committee session

Published: 25 October 2012

The trends towards creating a sustainable economy represent a bright spot for the future of forests. The trends towards increased use of wood for construction and other uses of wood through innovation of new and improved products, the potential of wood energy, the sustainability of wood and its low carbon footprint are causes for optimism. However current market conditions remain challenging, as the UNECE region emerges from the global economic crisis.


Annual Market Discussions

At the annual Market Discussions during the annual meeting of the UNECE Timber Committee in Geneva on 16 and 17 October, national delegations forecast for 2012 a decline in regional forest product markets, particularly in Europe, with a slight uptick for 2013 for each of the three subregions (Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States, and North America).

Other issues of importance discussed during the Committee included how the EU Timber Regulation will help in assuring the legality and sustainability of forest products along with the United States Lacey Act. However, concerns exist over the cost implications and the regulatory burden.

China is playing an important role for the UNECE region’s exports (for example Canada is the largest supplier of sawn softwood to China, accounting for 44% market share of Chinese sawn softwood imports in the first eight months of 2012). There are, however, mixed signals as to whether this trend will continue or has already peaked.

The Committee’s officially adopted Market Statement summarizes the latest market information on forest products market developments, along with detailed forecasts of production and trade for over 30 countries in the UNECE region in 2012 and 2013. Trends in 2011 and early 2012 are discussed and described in detail in the UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Market Review. For additional information, please visit http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=30891.


Action Plan for the forest sector in a green economy

The Committee further reviewed the progress made in relation to the Action Plan, which was initiated in May 2011 under the auspices of UNECE and FAO. It was reiterated that the forest sector in the UNECE region has the potential to make the greatest possible contribution to the emerging green economy by improving human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

The Action Plan, which was developed as part of an open consultation with member States and stakeholders, addresses the forest sector in the entire UNECE region. It stresses the leading role of the sector globally in the emerging green economy. It will be further reviewed on two occasions before being presented for endorsement at the next Joint ECE/FAO Committee and Commission session (Metsä2013).

At the session, the Committee also highlighted the main outcomes of the Lviv Forum on Forests in a Green Economy. The Forum took place from 11 to 14 September 2012 in Ukraine as a major contribution to raising awareness and promoting the concept of the green economy in the forest sector in Eastern Europe and North and Central Asia.


European Forest Week

Drawing on the success of the International Year of Forests 2011, the Committee has agreed to organize the second European Forest Week in Rovaniemi, Finland in 2013, in parallel to the joint session of the Committee and the Commission. The event will be called Metsä2013 (Metsä stands for forest in Finnish). The theme of the week will focus on the contribution of forests to a green economy. It will help illustrate that European forests, while maintaining a healthy environment and conserving biodiversity, are a sustainable source of products and essential services, including ecosystem services, which support the economy through generating wealth and income.


New programme of work

Finally, the Committee approved the draft programme of work for 2014-2017 which overall goal is to sustainably manage and use the forests in the region so that they provide products and ecosystem services to benefit society. The draft programme is composed of four work areas (data monitoring and assessment, policy dialogue and advice, communication and outreach, and capacity building) and will be refined in the course of 2013 prior to being endorsed at Metsä2013.

Additional information is available on the Timber Committee website at: www.unece.org/timber

The complete Market Statement as approved by the Timber Committee is available at: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/timber/meetings/20121015/TC2012-market-statement-final-approved.pdf

Click the Graph and summary forecast tables by subregion.

Complete tables of country market forecasts for 2012 and 2013, with data on 20 products for over 30 countries for production, imports, exports and consumption at: http://www.unece.org/forests/fpm/timbercommittee

Country market statements at: http://www.unece.org/forests/market-statements-2012

The UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Market Review, 2011-2012 at: http://www.unece.org/fpamr2012

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