The emphasis on – indeed, obsession with – the extraction of timber from forests is fairly recent. Previously forests were considered valuable for their “minor” products such as resins, incenses, fibers, and the like. The situation of late has been reversed. In Southeast Asia, for example, timber now represents as much as 95% of foreign trade. This shift has occurred because of several factors: (i) governmental desire to maximize revenues, which favors exploitation of timber resources, with the potential for large profits; (ii) dissatisfaction with the modest revenues available from minor product extraction; (iii) the desire to attract large-scale investment capital; and (iv) the desire to extend governmental control over remote areas. All these have contributed to the rise of the global timber trade.

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