Global Demand for Wood Projected to Triple by 2050 – WWF
WWF has released the latest chapter of the Living Forests Report, presented at the international paper conference Paperworld held last month in Frankfurt, Germany. The report projects a threefold increase in global demands for wood by 2050 as world populations and bioenergy demands rise.
More Supply, Less Impact
Living Forests also projects paper products and consumption to double in the next three decades, putting more pressure on forests and plantations. The challenge for forest based industries is to find ways to meet demands for more wood products while minimizing impacts on nature and the environment. For forest based industries to rise to the challenge, they need to make sustainability-conscious decisions regarding the entire supply chain, such as where and how wood is grown, harvested, and produced. How end products are used and reused also need to be examined.
New Applications for Wood
The report shows that even with reductions in wasteful consumption of forest products such as wood and paper, net demand for wood is still likely to grow. This is thanks in part to new technologies making it possible to discover more ways to use this versatile material and its core chemical components.
Wood is used from buildings to paper products to packaging. As populations grow, demands for wood will increase not only to meet traditional needs but may also be tapped as a source of bioenergy as well. Living Forest Report cites several possible future uses of wood as a biomaterial. Toothbrush and towels may be manufactured using recyclable wood fibers. Wood-based composites and plastics with reflection giving nanocrystals may one day be used to manufacture mirrors.
Mattresses and beddings may also be made using wood fiber products, as well as smart fiber based wall displays that can change according to preference or schedule. Wood may also be used in recyclable fiber containers with bio-plastic coating for disposable food storage. Another possible application is the use of wood in semi-conducting polymeric surfaces to display electronic print, such as a kitchen table displaying digital newspapers and magazines. All these possible applications and more extend the range of uses for wood.
Motivating Good Stewardship
Sourcing more wood while protecting forests themselves is possible. Emmanuelle Neyroumande, Manage of WWF International in global pulp and paper works says in the WWF article that “WWF’s research suggests that it is possible to achieve zero net deforestation and forest degradation while sustaining a vibrant wood products industry that meets people’s needs. …But the longer we delay our actions the more difficult and costly the solutions will be. We need wiser consumption, more efficiency, responsible forestry practices, good governance and more transparency.” Decisions regarding wiser wood and paper products consumption, greater efficiency in production and responsible forestry practices will need to be made and followed through. Good governance is also needed to ensure goals of sustainable forest management and conservation of biological and cultural diversity are being met. WWF Global Forest Programme Director Rod Taylor says, “A scenario of tripling the amount of wood society takes from forests and plantations needs to motivate good stewardship that safeguards forests – otherwise we could destroy the very places where wood grows.” Increasing demands not only on wood but on other natural resources should indeed motivate good stewardship if they are to be sustainably met in a world of finite resources.
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