April 1997

FO: ACPWP 97/9



Rome, 23 - 25 April 1997


Will there be a wood shortage? Several studies on global supply and demand on fibre and wood products have been produced within the last decade in order to address this question.

Few of the studies, with the exception of the FAO Forest Resources Assessment, are based on inventory data. Instead, most use models based on past production and consumption to quantify fibre availability.

Long-term Trends and Prospects in World Supply and Demand for Wood...

"World forests are biologically capable of supplying the quantity and type of wood consistent with the highest demand projections." - European Forest Institute

The horns of the dilemma is well illustrated by the above quote. The messages being conveyed by previous studies vary from "no fibre crises" to "global shortage", depending on the underlying methodology.

"Fibre supply" has to be understood as the vailability of wood, recovered paper and non-wood fibre for the production of sawn timber, wood-based panels, and pulp and paper.

In 1995, in order to obtain more reliable information on supply, the Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP) recommended that FAO carry out the Global Fibre Supply Study (GFSS).

The first steps taken to implement this study were presented in the ACPWP meeting held in Marrakech, in April 1996.

The GFSS is guided by a Steering Committee, which is chaired by Mr. Kevin Lyden (CEO Shotton Paper Company plc), co-chaired by Mrs Lise Lachapelle, President of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, and includes other industry representatives. Its main task is to advise and monitor the work in progress.

The GFSS forms an integral part of the FAO Forestry Department Outlook Studies. It will provide information on estimated commercial forest volumes, based on the most recent inventory reports and other primary data sources. Relevant data and trends on recovered paper and non-wood fibre have been addressed in the database.

The major phases are: the development of a database at a country level, the production of background documents on factors affecting fibre supply, and the production of future projections up to the year 2050 (with emphasis on likely developments up to the year 2010).

The GFSS and the FAO Global Forest Products Model, will be the background model and documentation for a Global Outlook on supply and demand. With this information, FAO will produce a final report on the implications for global forest policy.

Land Use under the GFSS

The diagram above describes the underlying land classification scheme used in GFSS. The classification of 'forest' has been broken down into area available and unavailable for wood supply.

The GFSS attempts to delineate between these two types of forest at the national level, by eliminating any forest land that is legally protected or inaccessible for any reason. All available literature has been reviewed to make estimates of the areas that are unavailable.

With this classification scheme, it is possible to make an initial estimate of volumes that are likely to be commercially available.


Preliminary GFSS estimates of commercial growing stock are currently in place for all countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. For countries in the CIS region, the area and volume information was obtained from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). European data will come from primarily the ETTS V inventory project. North American inventories will be taken from previously compiled sources.

A Working Group meeting was organized in Rome, 24-25 February 1997, with the participation of a number of international experts on industrial fibre supply and outlook studies.

A methodology for supply forecasting is under development. The model has been tested using sample data from three countries and it is expected to be completed early this summer

Projected Future Fibre Supply Indonesia under current trends

The example above is a preliminary projection of Indonesia's future fibre supply, following current trends, using data found in the GFSS database.

Several key points should be considered:

  • Under current trends, the natural forest area available for wood supply will be at least partially harvested by the year 2030. Some of this area will be transformed into semi-natural forest, while the remainder will have been permanently turned to agricultural uses.
  • By the year 2050, industrial plantations are expected to become the major source of wood fibre for Indonesia.
  • Short-term projections cannot be considered sufficient for planning purposes. The projected fibre supply composition in 2010 using the GFSS model is not significantly different from that of 1996; however, by 2030, fibre supply composition changes dramatically.


Effect of Wood Type on Supply

The type of wood being considered can be related to the reference diameter class used in volume estimates. Here is an illustration of the dramatic impact that diameter class can have on forecasting fibre volume.

For Indonesia, the cumulative difference between fibre supply projections based at 10 cm and 50 cm is over 1.8 billion cubic metres.

The end uses of the wood will dictate the appropriate diameter class to use. In countries where industry is mostly concerned with large-diameter sawlogs, for example, the fibre supply projections should be based on the 50 cm diameter class. However, where industry can make use of pulpwood and small diameter sawlogs, the 10 cm diameter class is appropriate as a reference.

The choice of reference diameter class leads to differences in the estimating of available commercial fibre supply.

Background Studies

Draft background studies have been completed on factors affecting fibre supply, such as sustainable forest management, material efficiency, tree improvement for industrial forest plantations and recovered and non-wood fibres.

Investigations into the relationship between reference diameter class and volume are continuing. We aim at developing equations to translate volumes at different diameter classes.

An analysis of the harvesting and logging residues statistics will be initiated in May. The logging residues statistics will be useful in filling the gap between commercial growing stock and the Forest Products Yearbook statistics.

A study on land use change will analyze the extent and rate of converting forest land into agricultural land. This work intends to act as a verification of our deforestation assumptions by analyzing the projection being made for agricultural land increases.


Several key issues have been identified by the GFSS team.

  • Data validation. Input from governments, the private sector, and NGOs is essential in order to improve the validity of GFSS. Each of these parties is invited to critique and improve upon supply estimates. To do this, a series of regional discussions in key countries is suggested.
  • Policy development. It is important to sensitize governments to the importance of GFSS for policy development. The depth of the data search, in conjunction with the scope of the model, has made GFSS an invaluable tool in creating future forest policy.
  • Forest resources information. The information provided by the GFSS model is only as good as the database behind the numbers. Continued efforts towards improving forest data will result in better future fibre supply projections.

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