As ITTO explains on its website, global resource use could double by 2050, representing an opportunity for tropical timber producers, according to a study published by ITTO today. It forecasts that tropical industrial roundwood production will increase substantially by mid-century but says the sector needs a boost if it is to maximize its contribution to carbon-neutral production.
Tropical Timber 2050: an Analysis of the Future Supply of and Demand for Tropical Timber and its Contributions to a Sustainable Economy uses the Global Forest Product Model and publicly available data to provide projections to 2050 for tropical timber supply and demand and trends in tropical timber resources, products and industries.
The report, which was authored by Christian Held, Eva Meier-Landsberg and Verónica Alonso, finds that, without political action and the necessary industrial development, material use will increase in non-renewable segments—likely exceeding planetary boundaries and increasing pollution externalities.
On the other hand, using renewables to substitute for non-renewables is a ready-to-use solution.
“A doubling of global resource use by 2050 would likely outstrip global sustainable supply and trigger negative impacts on biodiversity, climate, ecosystems and human wellbeing,” said Dr Held. “The world urgently needs to prioritize resource-use efficiency and adopt carbon-neutral production based on renewable and sustainably produced materials such as wood.”
According to the report, tropical timber could take a leading role in substitution because the increasing demand for goods in the construction sector and other sectors like plastics and textiles can partially be met by wood-based products. But the tropical timber sector is relatively undeveloped, and the report sets out five complementary strategies that could help drive sustainable growth in the sector.
“We know that timber, including tropical timber, will have to be a major player in future materials consumption if the planet is to avoid an environmental catastrophe,” said Steven Johnson, ITTO Officer-in-charge. “The wealth of information contained in this report will help further engage governments and private-sector players in efforts to ensure that the tropical forest sector plays its vital role in combating climate change while also increasing the economic wealth of tropical communities and countries.”
Other key points arising from the study include:
The report is part of an ongoing effort by ITTO to provide knowledge and learning experiences on incentivizing investments in natural tropical forests and the sustainable production of the wood and non-wood products arising from them.