Newsletter Stories

Tuesday, 12 November 2013
WWF Living Forests Report Projects Future Trends

 (© WWF Living Forests Report)© WWF Living Forests Report

November 12, 2013

Since 2011, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been publishing the Living Forests Report, which makes projections about global land use trends and how they will affect forests in the future.  

The analysis includes factors such as population growth, increasing literacy, diet trends, climate mitigation, forest conservation, and bioenergy, to name just a few. The report offers stakeholders in business, the forest products industry, government, NGOs, academia and other fields a distilled and easily understood vision of what the future of the world’s forests could look like given current trends.  

While it is important to keep in mind that this model cannot foresee all future factors, many of the overarching themes provide important guidance for how we should be viewing and managing forests today to empower and meet the needs of future generations. 

In particular, a chapter on forest products offers both illuminating and concerning insights on the future of the global forest products economy. For instance:

  • By 2030, global wood removals are projected to more than double, to over 7 billion m3. By 2050, that figure could double again.
  • Increasing bioenergy markets are likely to be the largest factor in the growth of global wood removals by a wide margin and a critical factor in long-term climate mitigation.
  • While paper demand in developed countries will taper off slightly, both demand and production in developing countries will grow dramatically.
  • Recycling will continue to increase and has the potential to become such an important short-term factor in paper production that we could use less virgin fiber for paper in 2020 than today, even with 25% greater demand.
  • Non-wood fiber will play an increasingly important role in global supply and production efficiencies will dramatically reduce waste.
  • To meet rising demand, more natural forests will need to be put into production, and more plantations will need to be established on areas not already dedicated to natural forest.
  • If deforestation isn't quickly halted from its current rate of roughly 30 million acres per year (the size of New York State), we will be severely constrained in having either the space or time to grow enough wood to meet future demands.

Across all their findings, WWF considers FSC certification to be a critical tool in meeting these challenges and the only forest certification system that currently meets the organization’s definition of credible. 

As the FSC membership begins to plan for the 2014 General Assembly, the WWF Living Forests Report can serve as an important source of information about decisions shaping FSC certification and responsible forest management more broadly.