Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2011
Global wood consumption trends are reviewed in the context of framing a coherent forest policy in the era of climate change. Over the period 1980 to 2007, global wood consumption has been essentially stagnant, increasing by only 0.4% per year. In contrast over the same period, global consumption of wood products increased steadily, paper by an average 3.2% per annum and solid wood products (sawn timber and wood panels) by 0.8% per annum. Wood saving explains these significantly different growth trajectories in unprocessed wood and processed wood products. Wood saving strategies include recycling paper (in particular), investing in higher yielding pulp technologies, substituting reconstituted wood panels for sawn timber and plywood and growing high pulp-yielding trees in a plantation regime. China's rapidly growing wood products industry has lifted wood saving to a new high. Consistent with the theory of induced innovation, China has so far avoided triggering a global wood shortage and associated wood price increases through a progression of strategies: successful pre-emptive price negotiations, increased use of recycled paper, adoption of high-yielding pulp technologies, substitution of reconstituted wood panels for sawn timber and tree planting substituting for natural forest supply. If China's current wood saving strategies were emulated worldwide, through increased use of recycled paper in particular, and to a lesser extent, substitution of reconstituted wood panels for sawn timber and plywood, the already low growth in global wood consumption would flatten further and perhaps start to decline. These economic realities in the wood products industry align positively with the interlinked imperatives of biodiversity conservation and carbon storage in natural forests, if wood-saving is converted to forest-saving.