Wood supply and production remains the focus of most forest inventories.
More than one-third of aboveground woody biomass is located in South America,
with 27 per cent in Brazil alone. Estimates by FAO (2000) show that global
production of total roundwood reached 3 335 million m3 in 1999.
Just over half of this was fuelwood, about 90 per cent of which was produced
and consumed in developing countries. On the other hand, industrial roundwood
production, 1 550 million m3 in 1999, was dominated by developed
countries, which together accounted for 79 per cent of total global production.
The overall trend for industrial roundwood production was relatively flat
during the 1990s. This was a significant change from the rapid growth
that occurred prior to 1990.
Commercial logging methods are often destructive and contribute directly
or indirectly to deforestation. In West Africa, it was estimated that
in obtaining 1 m3 of logs, about 2 m3 of standing
trees are destroyed (Serageldine 1990). Logging is especially damaging
on steep slopes or in sensitive ecosystems such as transitional forests
and mangroves (see box below). Where certain species are selected, non-target
species can also be damaged. Clearing of forests impacts most severely
on local populations, who lose vital sources of food, fuel, construction
materials, medicines and areas for livestock grazing. It also exposes
soils and shade species to wind, sunlight, evaporation and erosion, accelerating
siltation in dams, rivers and the coastal zone, as well as causing severe
| Where the forest meets the sea
Flock of birds in a mangrove forest at
Source: UNEP, Van Gruissen, Topham Picturepoint
Mangrove forests thrive in intertidal zones
of sub-tropical and tropical shores of Africa, Australia, Asia and
the Americas. They line about 25 per cent of tropical coastlines.Mangrove
forests are among the world's most biologically diverse and productive
systems. They provide food and refuge for many species and nutrients
for the marine environment Mangroves also act as nursery grounds
for fish and shellfish, and are prime nesting andmigratory sites
for hundreds of bird species (see photo). In Belize, for instance,
more than 500 species of birds have been recorded in mangrove areas.
Mangroves also help protect coastlines from erosion, storm damage
and wave action, and protect coral reefs and sea grass beds from
damaging siltation. Local communities are provided with timber and
fuelwood from mangrove forests.
Mangroves are threatened by activities such as overharvesting,
freshwater diversion, pollution, prolonged flooding and fluctuating
sea levels. In addition, the charcoal and timber industries, tourism
and other coastal developments are destroying mangrove forests.
The rapidly expanding shrimp aquaculture industry poses the gravest
threat - as much as 50 per cent of recent mangrove destruction has
been due to clear-cutting for shrimp farms.
Thailand has lost more than half of its mangrove forests since
1960. In the Philippines, mangroves declined from an estimated 448
000 ha in the 1920s to only 110 000 ha in 1990. In Ecuador, the
Muisne region has lost nearly 90 per cent of its mangroves. Globally,
about half of the world's mangrove forests may have been lost.
Sources: Quarto 2002, UNDP, UNEP, World Bank
and WRI 2000
There is a global trend towards greater reliance on plantations as a
source of industrial wood. The development of a significant global plantation
estate is quite recent; half of all plantations in the world are less
than 15 years old. Asia has led plantation establishment globally; as
of 2000, about 62 per cent of all forest plantations were located in that
region. Other significant developments include: rising private sector
investment in plantations in developing countries; increasing foreign
investments in plantations; and an expansion of 'outgrower' schemes whereby
communities or small landowners produce trees for sale to private companies
(FAO 2001b). Forest plantations typically contain only one, or a few,
species, which makes them less biologically diverse and more susceptible
to diseases and other disturbances than natural forests.
Forest industries continue to adapt to changes in raw materials, namely
the increased supply of plantation wood and of a wider range of species.
Recently there has been an emergence of innovative ways to make better
use of available supplies and of residues and waste. Such new developments
include laminated veneer lumber, glue-laminated timbers and products based
on wood fibres. In addition, modern technologies that reduce environmental
impacts, through pollution control and other means, are now available
to wood-processing industries (FAO 2001a).
In addition, many countries have imposed bans on timber harvesting, either
to conserve their forest resources or as a response to devastating natural
calamities (such as landslides and flooding) that are attributed, rightly
or wrongly, to excessive commercial logging. The effects of logging bans
differ widely with the type of policy, the products affected, market conditions,
etc. In some situations, logging bans can shift harvesting pressure from
one region to another, affect forest-dependent communities, increase or
decrease employment opportunities, and disrupt markets (FAO 2001a). There
is also increasing interest in forest certification which offers the potential
to provide a market incentive for better forest management (see box).
Forest management certification has been strongly promoted by civil
society over the past decade. It resulted from public disillusionment
with the failure of governments and intergovernmental bodies to
improve forest management or tackle deforestation effectively, and
the lack of discrimination by forest industries about the source
of their products.
Forest certification is a voluntary, market-based instrument that
enables consumers to identify forest products with high environmental
standards. By focusing on quality of forest management rather than
the quality of forest products, it contributes to the growing trend
to define production and process standards for social and environmental
performance in resource management. Three main certification approaches
are in operation:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation - an international
system which requires producers to meet a global set of Principles
and Standards for good forest stewardship and provides a trademark
for product labelling;
- Certification of the Environmental Management System (EMS) under
the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14000
- national certification schemes, some of which also incorporate
elements of the FSC and ISO approaches.
By the end of 2000, about 2 per cent of the global forest had been
certified for sustainable forest management. About 92 per cent of
these forests were located in Canada, Finland, Germany, Norway,
Poland, Sweden and the United States. At the same time, only four
countries with tropical moist forests (Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala
and Mexico) had more than 100 000 ha of certified forests, with
a combined total of 1.8 million ha. An increasing number of large
retail 'do-ityourself'chains in Europe and the United States and
some major house-builders in the United States have announced that
they will favour certified wood products in the future. Buyers'
groups that have committed themselves to trading only in products
from certified sources are also on the increase.
Many more millions of hectares are in the process of certification
although the concept is still hotly debated in many countries. Producer
countries and trade groups tend to consider it restrictive whilst
consumer countries with strong environmental lobbies have stressed
its potential benefits. Although there is little evidence as yet
about the local and market impacts of certification the contribution
of this voluntary procedure to good policy is evident. Setting up
the system has provided a forum for stakeholders to discuss broader
forest policy issues. It has also been successful in moving decision-making
powers away from some minorities with vested interests.
Sources: FAO 2001b and 2001b, Mayers and Bass
Trade trends in forest products show an increased proportion of the total
production of wood products being exported, increased domestic wood processing
prior to export, increased trade among developing countries (particularly
in Asia) and trade liberalization at a global level. At the same time
some countries are introducing export restrictions to address national
environmental and market problems. Forest trade and environment issues
have been under consideration by both the World Trade Organization Committee
on Trade and Environment and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests. Impacts
of trade on some commercial tree species are currently under review by
a working group of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (FAO 2001a).