Info

World total

187,086

4,493

89,175

48,449

49,463

ment (i.e., formation of secondary forest through forest successional processes) (Carnus et al. 2003).

As concerns about the status of natural forests grow and as the amount of protected areas and other large areas of forest unavailable for wood supply increases, plantations are increasingly expected to provide substitutes for products from natural forests (FAO 2000 a). This is particularly true in Asia and the Pacific area, where it is estimated that more than half the natural forests are not available for wood harvest because they are inaccessible or uneconomic to exploit. Of this unavailable forest, it is estimated that about 38% is legally reserved. In addition, logging bans have been imposed on roughly 10 million ha of natural forest. The reasons for these bans vary but are related to deforestation and forest degradation in Thailand, the Philippines, and China, and to conservation requirements in Sri Lanka and New Zealand (FAO 2001b).

An analysis of the global supply and demand for industrial roundwood shows that although demand is expected to increase by about 25% between 1994 and 2010, the supply of roundwood and fiber (from both plantations and natural forests) should more or less expand to keep pace or increase slightly (Varmola and Carle 2002). Supply and demand are not, however, expected to be in balance in all regions and some classes of industrial round-wood, notably logs of high-value hardwood species from natural forest in the tropics, are expected to be in short supply due to constraints on harvesting and a shrinking resource. This is where plantation forestry is expected to play a significant role, compensating at least in part for the lack of supply from natural forests.

The potential for forest plantations to meet the demand for wood and fiber is increasing. Although plantations amount to only 5% of global forest cover, in the year 2000 plantations supplied about 35% of global roundwood. This figure is anticipated to increase to 44% by 2020, with the greatest proportional increase in Asia, doubling its industrial roundwood production. In some countries forest plantation production already contributes the majority of industrial wood supply (FAO 2000 a). In China and Vietnam, the importance of plantations will increase as planted resources mature. In Sri Lanka, India, and elsewhere in the tropics, trees outside the forest are playing a critical role in roundwood and woodfuel supply (FAO 2001b).

Forest plantations of a wide range of species, including the valuable luxury hardwoods such as teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia macrophyl-la), and rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), have been established to meet anticipated shortages of log supplies from natural forests in the future. However, there is uncertainty about the actual extent of these plantations, their productivity, and thus their ability to supply the increasing demand. While it is clear that plantations will have an increasingly significant role in substituting products from natural forests, the impact will be felt on a case-by-case basis as governments and investors determine where and how plantations can be technically, economically, and socially feasible as well as environmentally friendly (FAO 2000b). In the near future, plantations in Asia and the Pacific area can reduce but not replace harvests from natural forests. It is likely that the current pace of industrial plantation development will barely keep pace with losses of natural forest from deforestation and the creation of protected areas. While it is theoretically possible, actual plantation development is currently not sufficient in Asia to offset both growing consumption and declining harvest from natural forests (FAO 2001b).

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