The global demand for timber is rising, albeit at a slower rate than previously. Why? Firstly, temperate wood production is rising (mainly from tree plantations) and thus the demand for tropical woods is not growing as rapidly as previously. Although the world population is growing, it is not growing substantially in countries in which consumption is high – the developed countries of Europe and North America. Consumption is rising more in developing countries, in which most demand for wood is for fiber (paper and pulp). The overall decline in population growth rates also is depressing the growth rate of wood consumption. Unfortunately, if the returns from timber harvesting do not increase, there is more pressure to “cash in” on primary forests and to “liquidate” one’s capital. The value of the forest is not seen to be increasing and thus countries can maximize the financial returns from the forest by harvesting it as rapidly as possible. Thus, logging may appear to be financially optimal. Over the longer term, however, it will not be so. One must take into consideration other uses of the forest, as well as the services it supplies, and not simply the return from removal of timber (see Part III, F11).

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