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Balance of forest sector shifts to the east:Challenges for forest and timber sector

Published: 10 March 2005

Geneva, 10 March 2005 - A just-published authoritative report on the outlook for Europe’s forest sector, prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), shows that production, consumption and exports of forest products will all grow faster in eastern Europe and the CIS than in western Europe. Wood raw material demand will grow three times faster in the CIS between 2000 and 2020 than in Western Europe (5.3% per year, compared to 1.6%).

The report, published by the UNECE and FAO, is a result of a major cooperative program among European governments. It presents a number of recommendations for policy and is intended to spark informed debate on the broad directions of sector strategy in Europe.

Among its major conclusions and recommendations are:

· Recycling, use of residues and recovered wood are already significant sources of supply (in western Europe now, less than half of the fibre used comes directly from trees): their importance will expand further.
· The economic viability of forest management in Europe is under threat from rising costs and low wood prices.
· Forests will continue to expand in Europe (+5% between 2000 and 2020): harvests will remain below the productive potential of European forests over the time period.
· Demand for non-wood products (such as berries, nuts and mushrooms) and services, notably recreation, hunting, protection of landscapes and conservation of biodiversity is very significant, probably higher than for wood, but without a corresponding revenue flow. In western Europe, the value of forest recreation is estimated at 2.6 billion euros/year, compared to 9 billion €/year for the value of wood production: it is not possible to produce credible monetary estimates for other services such as biodiversity conservation or the protection against erosion.

All of these findings point to significant challenges for the European forest sector in the next years: making the most of market opportunities while remaining sustainable, adjusting methods and work forces to structural changes, getting the message about forests over to decision makers in other sectors.

The study presents past trends and long term projections for all aspects of the sector (wood and non-wood products and services) from 1961 to 2020, for western and eastern Europe and four major CIS countries including Russia. It analyses the interactions between the forest sector and others, such as energy, environment, climate change and employment.

The report, entitled The European Forest Sector Outlook Study (Main Report) was published under the auspices of the UNECE Timber Committee and the FAO European Forest Commission.

Copies of the report may be obtained from the web site homepage of the UNECE Timber Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission, or from the postal address below.

For further information please contact:

Christopher Prins Chief

Timber Branch.
UN Economic Commission for Europe/Food and Agriculture Organization
Address: UNECE Trade Development and Timber Division,
Palais des Nations, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
E-mail: info.timber@unece.org
Web site: www.unece.org/trade/timber
Tel. +41 22 917 2874
Fax: +41 22 917 0041

Ref: ECE/TIM/05/P02

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05