Summary of the global outlook

1 feb 2013

Presentations and conclusions from the speakers

There is a general consensus that global demand for wood and fibre will continue to increase faster than population growth, owing to growth in China and other emerging markets. There is widespread agreement that increasing yields on existing agricultural land, and especially on cropland, is a key component for minimising further expansion of agricultural land. This development indicates a need to take a broad holistic approach with an overall land-use perspective. Below is a summary of the presentations at the global outlook, for the 200 years celebration of KSLA, focusing on the challanges in Africa, South America and China.

Opportunities in the North

  • Dramatically changed future resource landscapes
  • The Boreal region has on average more available land, forests, and water resources per capita than other regions
  • The Nordic nature production systems are more robust than in many other regions of the world
  • Land resources in the North will become more and more valuable – if managed correctly!

The way forward

  • Tackling the resource agenda must start with a shift of mind sets and mechanisms among stake holders and institutions.
  • New mind sets must reach across traditional sector boundaries to deal with the interconnected problems and opportunities and must provide sources of synergy and broader economic policymaking.
  • Integrate the landscape approach as an organizing framework
  • The conventional forest value chain which tells the story from the forest to the consumer is obsolete – the relevant one is the landscape value chain.

Professor Nilsson concluded that the landscape approach is fundamental to meet future natural resource demands!

Africa’s Forestry Capacity

Due to Africa’s small population (relative to the land mass) the per capita forest cover is 0.8 ha while the global average is 0.6 ha. On average, forests account for 6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Under-investment in forestry education and industries has eroded the capacity
  • New challenges require a different knowledge and skills with forestry and a broader economic, landscape and environment profession Technical education is crucial for future development
  • ‘REFOREST Africa’ is a visionary proposal that should be funded to enable professional forestry growth in Afric

Promising opportunities for trees in Africa

African Forestry is riding the global wave of climate change, to the point of masking its  economic importance. Programmes like REDD have become iconic to the extent of driving forest management goals whereas they should be just the normal actions in the standard processes of forest management. The time for reflection and for Africa to make her choices has come.

Professor Temu concluded that ”never before have needs and opportunities for investments in trees and forestry by farmers, communities and the private sector been so explicit and promising for Africa!”

China – the world’s largest market of forest products

As China quickly has become the world’s largest market and supplier of forest products over the past decade, her domestic policy change and ensuing supply trends become interesting to many. As being increasingly recognized, changes of China’s domestic policy and wood supply have made drastic impact on the world market and global forest resources. The tenure reform in China sets precedents in many ways for developing world.

  • As Economy Grows, China Becomes Largest Timber Resource Consumer and Product Supplier of the World
  • Meeting the Growing Demand for Timber Resources is a Tremendous Challenge to China’s Forest Sector, and the Supplying Tropical Nations.

The Collective Tenure Reform in China

  • The reform policy significantly altered forest tenure structure in China.  But, It by no means achieved uniformed results across  provinces and villages.
  • Timber production increased significantly in reform provinces
  • The reform causes the villages to increase forestation by 150%

Professor Xu concluded that there is need and opportunity for South-South exchange, learning and sharing.

A distrust against industrial forestry in South America

The biological and economic potential  of industrial tree plantations in southern South America, the Cono Sur, is well known. Brazil and Chile are major actors on the global market; Uruguay is emerging, while Argentina’s potential is still to be realized. Other South American countries have the biological potential, but their technical and political conditions may not presently be conducive for the large-scale, long-term ventures pulp and paper mill establishment entails. In several countries, as well as in large parts of Brazil, suitable growing areas for ITP (industrial tree plantations) are too distant from shipping facilities of their products. So, this report has its focus on Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

  • In South America: changes in the preferred agro-pastoral landscape, transition from subsistence farming to (global) market agriculture
  • In the Nordic countries: The gradual change from semi-natural forest to more intensive forest management
  • Everywhere: Discontent when powerful companies don’t anchor their activities in the local communities

The criticism in media erodes the confidence

  • The Nordic experience shows that succesful forest business means diversified activities, creating a multi-actor forest cluster, engaging benefitting local/regional society in several ways.
  • Forestry means little to the urban majority, having little connection with or benefit from industrial forestry.
  • Public confidence is still high, but the criticism in media erodes it. Media mirrors NGO critics, is sceptic to industry defence.
  • The forest industry in Chile & SE Brazil involves many land owners and a variety of industry, still it is seen as legitimate.

Professor Nylund concluded that the megaton mill ventures create industrial islands with a minimum of local engagement. Therefor few local beneficiaries are willing to stand up and defend forestry as a legitimate business. This is probably not economically and socially sustainable?

Editor: Fredrik Ingemarson, Program Manager SIFI

Photo from Prof.Temus presentation