Timber to sustain resource consumption

Timber to sustain resource consumption


In conjunction with rising populations, demand for resources and consumption patterns, timber is expected to be a major player in the future.

World populations are expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, with a domino effect predicted that this will lead to a doubling of global resource use (UN, ITTO). To avoid exceeding the global sustainable supply of resources and triggering negative impacts for biodiversity, climate, ecosystem, and human wellbeing, Dr Held notes that “the world needs to prioritize resource-use efficiency and adopt carbon-neutral production based on renewable and sustainably produced materials such as wood”.

Timber – as a renewable resource – could reduce the demand for plastics and textiles, replacing these with wood-based products. Increased demand for timber goods in construction sectors is also expected.

We know that timber, including tropical timber, will have to be a major player in future materials consumption if the planet is to avoid an environmental catastrophe,” Steven Johnson, ITTO Officer-in-charge.

As global demands increase, there is an ecological consciousness to ensure that where possible materials are renewable and mitigate negative externalities such as greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and public health issues.

Tropical timber plays a crucial role in slowing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, social inequality and providing a source of income from sustainable forest management, mitigating the extraction of natural resources to other commodities. The report highlights increasing resource efficiency, changing consumption patterns, developing regional processing industries and improving forest management, as strategies and key actions for the enhanced use of tropical timber.

Tropical timber as a sector of the market and potentials for future sustainable supplies is largely undeveloped. This is in part due to a misconception of tropical timber, which can be addressed through sustainable forest management and strengthened forest governance. Tropical forest governance which is internationally recognized and proactively encouraged and supported is essential to both responsible trade and increasing global forest cover.

The ITTO Tropical Timber 2050: An analysis of the future supply of and demand for tropical timber and its contributions to a sustainable economy provides projections for tropical timber supply, demand, trends and resources for 2050.

The ITTO report sets out five complementary strategies that could drive sustainable growth in the sector. These are:

  1. Sustainable forest management: managing and conserving tropical forests
  2. Economics, statistics and markets: improving the transparency of – and expanding international markets for -tropical timber
  3. Sustainable forest industries: developing efficient and value-added tropical forest-based industries
  4. Climate-change mitigation and adaptation: addressing climate change
  5. Capacity building: raising the capacity


Supporting and enhancing policies that improve the value of standing forests and incentivise good governance and enhanced trade benefits is one of the TTF’s current projects through their FCDO funded FLEGT communications program. Placing a greater emphasis on keeping forests as forests rather than land conversion for other resources and strengthening governance as the precursor for sustainable forest management and responsible forestry is essential for the global increase of resources expected.