Planted forests provide not only wood and fibre, but also wood fuels and other non-wood forest products; moreover, they sequester carbon, rehabilitate degraded lands, help in restoring landscapes, protect watersheds and agricultural soils, and provide recreational areas and amenities.
In the year 2000, planted forests contributed about 35% of global industrial roundwood production, though they only represented around 9% of the world’s forests. It can be safely assumed that, since then, their contribution has increased further.
With forest plantations becoming an increasingly important source of wood, policy, planning and management of forest plantations require increased attention. This refers also to harvesting, transport, wood and fibre processing technologies and to information on trade in forest products.
In planted forests, the range of species is narrower, the dimensions involved are generally smaller, the rotation lengths are substantially shorter, the wood properties are different and, consequently, the end use potential for trees from planted forests can vary substantially from those of trees from natural forests, to which wood industries, trade and consumers are presently accustomed.
This study takes an in-depth look at the impact that plantation management can have on the wood properties of timber species, thus affecting wood processing and end use options. Whilst recognizing that biotechnology can increase productivity of wood/fibre, resistance to insects and diseases and wood quality, the study also demonstrates that processing technology needs to further address the challenge of smaller log sizes, changes in wood properties and others, in order to produce forest products which can satisfy consumers.
Markets, consumer demand and technologies are constantly developing. They are the driving forces for investment and management options. The study looks at different models for production of wood and fibre in response to these changing signals. There is no right answer - forest managers must consider the unique context in which they are investing in planted forests and respond to the key driving forces as they see them, including those from the market place and from wood industries sectors, and also social demands and environmental covenants.
Forest Products and Economics Division