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Global wood production growth accelerates – new FAO report

Global production of major wood products surged in 2016 for the 7th consecutive year with a growth rate 3 to 6 percent according to new data recently published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The fastest increase in major wood products occurred in Asia-Pacific, Northern America and Europe are driven by positive economic growth, new manufacturing capacities in Eastern Europe, particularly for particleboard and Oriented Strand Board (OSB), as well as growing bioenergy demand.

Global production of all major wood products continued to grow 2016 according to new FAO data.

Published annually by FAO, the “Global Forest Products Fact and Figures 2016” covers all major wood products including industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels and wood pellets. FAO’s forest products statistics cover 55 product categories, 21 product groups and 245 countries and territories.

Globally, production of all major products gradually recovered in 2010-2016 from the economic crisis of 2008-2009. In 2016, the growth pace in the wood sector doubled compared to the previous year, and this positive trend is likely to continue through 2017-2018 due to the global economic development and higher demand for renewable energy. said Mats Nordberg, FAO Senior Forestry Officer.

Particleboard and OSB production gains momentum

Global production of particleboard (PB) and OSB wood panels commonly used in furniture manufacturing and construction saw the fastest growth among all wood product categories. The particleboard production growth rate soared from 0.3 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2016, whereas global production of OSB wood panels grew by 10 percent last year compared to a 7 percent increase in 2015.

The surge was mainly triggered by new mills in Eastern Europe, including the Russian Federation, as well as increased production in China and Northern America. Russia has recently overtaken Canada and Germany to become the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of wood-based panels after China and the USA.

Manufacturing of edge-glued wood-based panels at a facility in Thailand. Based on rubberwood, the panels are used in furniture and flooring.

Canada saw double-digit growth in production and exports of wood-based panels in 2014-2016 thanks to increased sales to the US due to a recovering economy and housing market. China registered the sharpest surge of 42 percent in the production of wood-based panels between 2012 and 2016.

A rapid growth in wood-based panel production means storing more carbon for longer periods compared with other wood product categories such as pulp and paper or wood fuel. This contributes to reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Another positive trend is the increase of recycled wood used in panels which also prevents carbon release, said Nordberg.

Wood pellets boom continues

The production of wood pellets has increased dramatically in recent years to meet bioenergy targets set by the European Union (EU). In 2016, global production grew by another six percent, reaching 29 million tonnes, more than half of which was traded internationally.

Europe and North America accounted for almost all global wood pellet production (58 percent and 32 percent respectively) and consumption (81 percent and 8 percent respectively).

An increase in the UK’s and South Korean imports and consumption by 0.7 million tonnes accounted for the increase in the global consumption and imports due to the national renewable energy policies in these two countries.

Consumption of wood pellets in Asia increased by 17 percent. South Korea became the third largest wood pellets importer after the UK and Denmark, driving up wood pellet production in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Imports of wood pellets also rose in Japan and China.

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