The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) carries out periodic reviews of the forestry sector and produces long-term forecasts of wood and wood product supply and demand. The production of reliable and timely forecasts is seen as an important aid to planning and decision making in the forestry sector at a national, regional and global level, which FAO will continue to strongly support in the future.
Most projections of future supply and demand are based on a variety of statistical or econometric techniques. Such techniques examine historical trends and changes in supply and demand and attempt to explain these trends by identifying relationships with other variables, such as: forest product prices; the availability of forest resources; and economic growth. Assumptions about future changes in these variables are then used to make projections of future supply and demand.
One of the major challenges when producing supply and demand projections, is to estimate the future availability of forest resources that will continue to be used for wood supply and to calculate the volume of roundwood that might be produced from such areas. This paper presents an attempt to estimate future trends in forest plantation areas and potential roundwood production from such areas.
The paper falls broadly into three sections. The first examines historical trends and the current status of the global forest plantation resource, in terms of its size, location, species and age composition, use and production potential. The second section examines important economic and policy factors that have driven forest plantation establishment in the past and are likely to continue to do so in the future. This section is particularly interesting and many of the issues discussed here apply to forestry development more generally. The last section presents three scenarios for future forest plantation expansion and potential roundwood production from forest plantations.
This paper is the result of a concentrated effort on the part of Chris Brown to collect reliable forest plantation statistics for all of the countries with significant forest plantation resources, to critically review the data and make corrections where necessary and to put this all together into a form that is comparable with all of the existing information about forest plantations held by FAO. The modelling of potential roundwood production from forest plantations is also a significant advance on previous efforts in this field (such as FAO's Global Fibre Supply Model) and Mr Brown is to be congratulated on the results of his efforts.
FAO will continue to explore ways in which the quality of future supply and demand projections can be improved through improvements in the collection of forest product statistics and the models used to make such projections. In this respect, we would welcome comments on all aspects of this study from professional analysts and users of this study (contact details can be found on page xiii of this working paper).
Forestry Officer (Sector Studies)
Forestry Policy and Planning Division