Promises and perils of plantation forestry

Jacki Schirmer, Romain Pirard, Peter Kanowski

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Plantation forestry is an increasingly important part of the global forestry industry. In the decade to 2010, global expansion of planted forests averaged five million hectares (ha) annually, mostly through afforestation of land that had not been recently forested (FAO 2010). This rate of expansion is substantially higher than in previous decades (FAO 2010) and is happening worldwide, as shown in Table 9.1, although more than half of all planted forests are located in just five countries (China, the United States, the Russian Federation, Japan and India). Within this global snapshot, there are very different trends: countries such as China (Xu 2011) and Vietnam (Government of Vietnam 2011) are pursuing rapid growth of tree plantations, while in much of North America and Europe there is a large existing plantation estate and more limited expansion (FAO 2010). Of the estimated 264 million ha of planted forests established globally by 2010, around three-quarters had commercial wood production as their predominant purpose (FAO 2010). Plantations are of growing importance to global timber supply, in part because of declining wood production from natural forests (Warman 2014). Plantations are estimated to contribute, currently and for the foreseeable future, around one-third of industrial wood supply (Barua et al. 2014; Jurgensen et al. 2014). The supply of industrial roundwood from plantations could increase to 1.5 billion m3 in 2050, but even at this volume is expected to contribute only around one-third of global wood supply (Barua et al. 2014). Depending on the scenarios used, planted forests are predicted to cover anywhere from 303 to 345 million ha by 2030, with most of the absolute increase taking place in Asia, as can be seen in Table 9.1 (Carle and Holmgren 2008; Warman 2014). Plantations established for industrial roundwood production are likely to dominate, although plantations are increasingly being established for other commercial purposes, with an estimated 403,000 ha of plantations established for commercial carbon sequestration worldwide by September 2011 (Diaz et al. 2011), and a growing area of plantations established for biofuel production (Pin Koh and Ghazoul 2008; Arevalo et al. 2014).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationForests, Business and Sustainability
    EditorsRajat Panwar, Robert Kozak, Eric Hansen
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9781317675266
    ISBN (Print)9781138779297
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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