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The global forest products industry is slowly recovering from the economic crisis, with the Asia-Pacific region and particularly China taking the lead
New data published by FAO indicate that on average global production of the main forest products grew by one to four per cent in 2011 compared to 2010 showing that countries are slowly coming out of recession.
Production of wood-based panels and paper in 2011, for example, was above the pre-crisis levels of 2007 and appears to be growing relatively strong in most regions, whereas global production of industrial roundwood despite an increase of three per cent in 2011 over the figure for 2010 has not so far reached the pre-crisis levels.
In the markets for pulp and paper, overall growth was very modest over the period 2007-2011, with a growth trend of about one per cent per year. However, this conceals major differences at the regional level, where pulp and paper production and consumption is increasing significantly in the Asia-Pacific region, but generally declining in Europe and North America.
China is increasing its importance as producer of forest products, becoming the world's second largest producer of sawnwood after USA and having overtaken Canada. China has also increased its lead over all other countries as a producer of wood-based panels, paper and paperboard. In 2011, China produced 11 per cent of the world's sawnwood, 38 per cent of its panels and 26 per cent of its paper.
China is the fifth largest importer of paper and paperboard, despite a huge increase in domestic production since 2007. In 2011, China's imports of all forest products amounted to US$43bn and account now for 16 per cent of the global total.
"The FAO database provides the world's most comprehensive and internationally comparable statistics for forest products, a crucial tool for making policy and investment decisions," said FAO assistant director-general for forestry Eduardo Rojas Briales.
"FAO relies on data submitted by its member countries to obtain reliable information on major developments and trends in the sector."