© Juan Pratginestos / WWF

Forest sector

You don't have to walk in the woods to have forests in your life. Forests touch our lives every day – from the wood in our furniture to paper for our books.

How can we meet the rising demand for wood-based products while conserving the world’s forests?

The amount of wood we take from forests and plantations each year may need to triple by 2050, according to projections in the WWF Living Forests Reporteven with increased recycling, reuse and efficiency. This growing market for wood can motivate good stewardship that safeguards forests or destroy the very places where wood grows. 

So can we produce more wood without destroying or degrading forests, in a world where competition for land and water is increasing? 

WWF's research suggests it’s possible, and that it could even be good for the planet. But it’s a challenge that spans the whole supply chain, from where and how wood is grown and harvested to how wisely and efficiently it is processed, used and reused.

Meeting rising demand sustainably

The WWF Living Forests model shows that without changing our current consumption patterns, another 242-304 million hectares of natural forest may be managed for commercial harvesting by 2050 – up to 25 per cent more than today. There is no simple verdict on whether it’s better to log natural forests more heavily in a smaller area or conduct a lighter form of logging over a larger area. In either case, better forest management is needed, as well as improved governance and law enforcement, with stricter trade regulations and accurate tracing of wood along supply chains. And of course limiting wasteful uses and becoming more efficient in the use of a valuable resource is a priority!

Putting a price on forests

Forests have obvious economic significance through the provision of timber and wood. In addition, non-timber products like rubber, cotton, medicinal products, and food represent significant economic value. Even more important is fuel wood and fodder, especially in developing nations, where people depend on wood almost entirely for their household energy.

Forests contribute more than US $250 billion to the global economy – more than the annual global output of gold and silver combined – and direct, cash exchange‐based contributions of forests represent approximately 1% of the global output.*

*United Nations Forum on Forests 10th session 2013


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Humanity will likely use more wood in more ways in the coming decades. Given the massive projected increase in wood and paper demand, forest-based industries are key to conserving forests. For wood to play a positive role in a “green” economy based on renewable resources, production forests need to be managed to the highest ecological and social standards, and the use and recovery of wood products must become more efficient. 
WWF works with an alliance of NGOs around the world to promote reductions in wasteful uses of paper. WWF further promotes efficiency at the design and manufacturing stage to ensure that more products are done with less resources (fiber, water, energy…Etc.).  

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