Sustainable agriculture and timberland
The world currently harvests an estimated 3.5 billion cubic metres of wood every year, according to the FAO; used in traditional markets such as paper, packaging materials, furniture and fuel-wood. These markets are growing as a function of demographics (an expanding global population) and of economic development (the growing ‘middle class’), generating significant higher demand for wood-based products.
In addition to these traditional uses, new markets such as biomass for energy generation, advanced structural wood, and wood-fibre based bio-materials and bio-fuels are developing at a very fast pace.
To meet demand, however, a material proportion of wood volumes utilised every year continued to come from natural forests, much of which is illegally felled. Virgin forests are clearly an unsustainable source for environmental and practical reasons. At a fundamental level, there is an expected (and growing) gap in sustainable sources of wood supply.
Sustainably managed forest plantations can be a positive alternative to virgin forests as a source of wood fibre – according to some estimates, in the order of 80 million hectares of new tree plantations might be developed by 2030 - over 10 times the area currently under plantation regimes in Brazil, one of the world’s largest sustainable wood producers.
An important investment opportunity exists in the development of new, sustainable sources of wood fibre around the world.