Unasylva - No. 80-81 - Wood: World trends and prospects

Table of Contents

Vol. 20 (1-2)




Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


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FAO - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was founded at Quebec, Canada, in October 1945 when its Member Nations agreed to work together to secure a lasting peace through freedom from want. The membership of FAO now stands at 113 nations.

Forestry and Forest Products Division



Deputy Director


Assistant to Director


Chiefs of Branches


Former Directors





Unasylva - Started in 1947, this quarterly publication is intended to cover a range of interests as wide as that of the Division whose work it mirrors.

Signed articles express the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Organization.

Cover. The integrated pulp, paper and linerboard mills of Enso-Gutzeit Oy at Kautopää, eastern Finland. The Kautopää mills (not all shown in the photograph) have an aggregate annual capacity of 650,000 tons of sulfate pulp, 90,000 tons of semichemical pulp, 450,000 tons of linerboard, 100,000 tons of paper, 30,000 standards of sawn lumber, 60,000 tons of various chemical products, and 800 million kWh of electric energy. The wood is transported to the mills mainly through floating in bundles over the extensive system of lakes and rivers. The Finnish Government is the major shareholder in Enso-Gutzeit Oy, but there are also considerable private interests in the company.

(Photo courtesy Enso-Gutzeit Oy.)

The Sixth World Forestry Congress has taken for its theme "the role of forestry in the changing world economy" - a theme which reflects the awareness of those concerned with this major natural resource that its management should both reflect and contribute to the change and growth of the present-day world.

The present study deals with one of the several important products the forest resource contributes - wood. It is designed to make available on the occasion of the Congress the findings of a series of major national and regional appraisals of wood resources and requirements which over the past few years have systematically covered nearly all the countries of the world. The round of studies of which this is the culmination is in effect the first integrated analysis in depth of past and prospective developments in the world wood sector.

Most of these underlying regional studies did more than just establish the facts about the sector's past development and estimate its future evolution. They also sought to provide reasoned guidelines to the policies that will need to be followed, and to the priorities that would have to be accorded to different types of programs and measures if the sector is to develop in a rational fashion.

At the world level it will be the discussions and resolutions of the World Forestry Congress that will provide these guidelines. In order to provide the background material and the framework for these discussions, this study sets out to present an integrated analysis of past and prospective developments in the production, trade and consumption of wood and wood products to the year 1975, and to illuminate the problems and prospects that will confront the forestry and forest industry sectors in the years ahead. With this as its purpose, the study does not deal with the functions of the forest that are not concerned with the production of wood. Nor does it deal with the detail of the techniques, institutions and policies bearing upon forest and forest industry development - not because their importance in shaping this development has been over looked, but because they are more appropriately dealt with elsewhere.

But the study in turn raises issues which must have important implications for the policies and practices governing the forestry and forest industries sectors. It reveals a time of profound change ahead. Demand for wood is now rising by such massive quantities as to severely strain the capacity of many of the traditional sources of supply. The use of wood is also changing in character, with the greater part of the growth in volumes needed being for wood for the pulp and board industries, which require wood fiber rather than solid wood of particular dimensions. These changes raise, with increasing urgency, the question of whether the present concepts and practices of forest management still suffice. Is forest management directed to best produce the type of wood that will be required in the years ahead, in the quantities that will be required, and in the fashion which most rationally uses the resources of the sector'

The tempo and magnitude of the growth in requirements also put in question the adequacy of the present geographical pattern of supply, still so heavily and narrowly concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere. There appears to be a need for a substantial development of the forest resources and of forest industries in other parts of the world, to meet their rising domestic demands and also to contribute toward meeting the deficits now appearing in certain of the high-use countries. But the countries in these other parts of the world are generally those which are as yet insufficiently endowed with the required capital, skills, knowledge and other resources which sustain the momentum of growth in the industrialized countries. The question thus arises as to how to bring about this necessary expansion.

Then, again, overlying everything else, there arises the question of the adequacy, or inadequacy, of forest sector data. The production of wood is perhaps unique in its need, given its lengthy time horizons, for planning ahead. As the tempo of change in the sector accelerates, and as the sector itself becomes rapidly larger and more complex, can it operate effectively with the present limited knowledge of the extent, nature and interrelationships of the forest resource; of the economics of supply of wood; of the end-uses of wood and wood products? - to name but a few of the areas where data are sadly inadequate.

These are but three of the questions that emerge from a perusal of the study. But they are perhaps sufficient to underline the magnitude and extent of the challenge that faces the sector and that confronts the Sixth World Forestry Congress in its discussions about the future of the world's huge forest resource and of the great industries which draw upon these forests, and of the manifold products which these forests and industries provide.

This electronic document has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) software and careful manual recorrection. Even if the quality of digitalisation is high, the FAO declines all responsibility for any discrepancies that may exist between the present document and its original printed version.

Table of Contents


I. Introduction

Purpose of the study
Economic setting

Growth in population
Growth in income per caput
Some implications

II. The demand for wood and wood products


The geographical pattern of sawnwood use
End uses of sawnwood
Factors affecting the use of sawnwood
Prospects for the period up to 1975
Requirements in 1975

Wood-based panels

Geographical pattern for wood-based panel use
End uses of wood-based panels
Factors affecting the use of wood-based panel products
Prospects for the period up to 1975
Requirements in 1975

Wood pulp products

Dissolving pulp
Paper and paperboard
Geographical pattern of paper and paperboard use
End uses of paper and paperboard
Factors affecting the use of paper and paperboard
Prospects for the period up to 1975
Requirements in 1975

Aggregate world demand for wood up to 1975

III. The forest resource

The world's forests

Man-made forests

Removals of roundwood

The pattern of removals
Trends in removals

Factors affecting the wood-producing potential of the forests

Nonproductive forms of wood drain
Competing uses of forest land
The status of the forests and forest lands
The institutional setting

Prospects for the period up to 1975

Possibilities for increasing wood removals
Roundwood removals in 1975

IV. The primary wood-using industries

The sawmilling industry

Production and trends in production
Size and structure of sawmilling industry
Raw material costs
Processing yield
Labor costs and productivity
Economies of scale
Product development and marketing

The wood-based panel industries

Production and trends in production
Economics of production

The pulp and paper industry

Production and trends in production
Fibre raw material requirements
Industry economics and economies of scale

Prospective developments in the primary wood-using industries

V. Trade in wood and wood products

The general pattern of the trade

Commodity composition of the trade
Geographical pattern of the trade

Trends in trade in forest products

Trends in exports
Trends in imports
Trends in the balance of trade

VI. Prospective changes in the pattern of wood supply


Growth in requirements to 1975
Wood supply prospects
Changes in the primary wood-using industries
Trends in trade

Future changes in the world wood balance up to 1975

Northwestern Europe
United States
Other importing areas
Prospects in the wood-surplus areas
Some implications for the future


Notes on coverage, terms and sources

Statistical basis and sources
Projections of future wood requirements
Economic and demographic framework

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