1) Planted forests will become the dominant source of production timber within the next two or three decades.
2) Demand for wood as a raw material will increase or decline in direct proportion to the capacity of planted forests to provide material that meets consumer expectations.
3) Use of engineered wood products, derived mostly from intensively managed plantations, should continue to expand in housing and other construction areas. Markets for inexpensive laminate/particleboard composites for flooring, doors, furniture and other products may remain high in some sectors, but if historical trends are any indication solid wood (if quality can be maintained) is likely to erode some of those markets, especially among aging, more affluent populations.
4) Less well-known woods, particularly hardwoods, from natural forests are filling market niches where better-known species are in short supply. As some of these ‘new’ woods become better known, they may also become important planted species.
5) Before key genetic traits in trees in natural forests are further eroded by logging practices that favour the “best” trees, the remaining genetic resources need to be captured and used as the basis for tree improvement in planted forests.
6) Two types of commercial planted forests are proposed to meet consumer needs: one that relies on engineering technology to reconfigure wood biomass into useful consumer products; and a second type that provides for the diverse demands for wood in its natural form, with properties matched to specific products.
7) Planning for planted forests is needed now in order to anticipate consumer demand for wood two or more decades away.
8) If demand for wood should decline because we fail to anticipate consumer needs, other materials (particularly petrochemicals and metals) will fill the void, and this will limit possibilities for rural development, exacerbate the depletion of non-renewable resources and hinder the potential for carbon storage.
9) If planted forests are unable to meet consumer demand for the highest value woods for applications where non-wood substitutes are not a viable option, irresponsible or illegal logging of natural forests will likely be accelerated, leading to further loss of endangered tree species.