Grow more trees, use more wood
At Metsä2013, the joint session of the UNECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and the FAO European Forestry Commission, representatives of numerous forest sector stakeholders met to consider market and policy developments in wood and non-wood forest products across the UNECE region.
There was discussion of the latest trends in forest product markets and trade in the UNECE region and a roundtable highlighted the challenges and opportunities faced by the sector and how policymakers might be able to help the forest industry thrive and enhance its economic, environmental and social contribution.
Forest product markets are showing signs of recovery though there is not a consistent picture across sectors and regions. The recovery in the US housing market is stimulating North American demand, especially for sawnwood. In Europe, consumption is falling across most sectors and there have been capacity reductions, especially in the pulp and paper sector. However, there has been a significant expansion of capacity in the panel sector in the east and also in the Russian Federation.
Uniquely, the forest sector operates on a time-scale based on decades, even centuries, and has had to respond to changing market conditions many times. It is a testimony to wood’s versatility and the resilience and adaptability of the forest industry that it continues to meet successfully the changing requirement of the market.
The fundamental message from the afternoon discussion can be summarised as, “Grow more trees, use more wood”. Policymakers can help to create the conditions in which this can be achieved by supporting a simplified regulatory framework with greater predictability that recognises the lower carbon footprint of forest products compared with alternative materials. Another phrase coined by one of the panellists was, “Wood – the basis for a third industrial revolution”. It became clear that the forest industry is heir to a ‘forest of new opportunities’ including the creation of jobs and increasing income, especially from innovative products. Such is its versatility that anything that can be made from oil can be made from wood.
The discussion was supported by data and information collected through the Joint Wood Energy Enquiry and the latest Forest Products Annual Market Review issued by the UNECE-FAO Forestry and Timber Section.