Latin America and the Caribbean to use more wood from planted forests
High deforestation rates expected to persist
1 August 2006, Rome – More than 60 percent of the sustainable wood supply in Latin America and the Caribbean will come from planted forests by the year 2020, leaving more natural forests untouched, FAO said today.
According to FAO forecasts in the recently published Forestry Sector Outlook Study for Latin America and the Caribbean, annual potential wood supply from sustainably managed planted forests will increase from 303 to 480 million cubic metres from 2003 to 2020.
Potential wood supply from natural forests will shrink from 320 to 293 million cubic metres in the same period.
The shift from natural forests to planted forests for wood supplies in the region is also being driven by increasingly restricted access to natural forests and greater regulation in the management and use of natural resources.
Planted forests - productive and competitive
At the same time, intensive reforestation programmes, in most countries led by the private sector and supported by national programmes, resulted in high productivity and competitiveness of planted forests.
Most forest plantations are medium- to large-scale and privately owned. Increasingly, communities are also managing small-scale forest plantations.
In many cases, large-scale forest industries support small-scale planted forest programmes in collaboration with rural communities, providing know-how and improved seed stock. They also assist in securing long-term markets, making wood from planted forests competitive.
“The more wood that comes from planted forests, the more natural forests in Latin America and the Caribbean will be conserved. This is definitely a positive trend,” said Olman Serrano, an FAO senior forestry officer responsible for the study.
Planted forests are forecast to increase from 13.1 million hectares in 2005 to 17.3 million hectares in 2020.
Despite the fact that the majority of wood supply will come from planted forests, in Latin America and the Caribbean natural forests are expected to shrink from 924 to 881 million hectares during the same period.
The study cites the expansion of agriculture and cattle raising as main causes for deforestation in the region.
Expected population growth from 520 million in 2004 to 620 million in 2020 and economic growth are likely to lead to a corresponding increase in the demand of forest products, including fuelwood and charcoal for domestic and industrial uses, adding further pressure on forest resources.
On the other hand, greater environmental awareness in the region is expected to boost the expansion of protected areas, according to the study.
Protected areas have increased between 1950 and 2000, from 17.5 million hectares to 386 million hectares, reaching close to 23 percent of the global protected areas. FAO said this trend is likely to continue.
Media Relations, FAO
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