Global softwood lumber production outlook

Global softwood lumber production bottomed out in 2009 at 264 million m3, climbed in 2010 to 288 million m3, and in 2012 expanded to 306 million m3 according to the latest WOOD Markets Monthly International report.

In comparing 2010 with the base-case forecast for 2020, the production of global softwood lumber is expected to rise by 24% (2.4% per year), with a volume increase of some 70 million m3. Note that the annual increase over ten years of 2.4% per year is higher than that of global softwood timber harvests (2.0% per year).

Based on the timber harvest forecast, the U.S. will have the largest lumber production increase by far: it is forecast to jump by 55% (5.5% per year) by producing an incremental 24 million m3 (15 billion bf nominal) between 2010 and 2020. The next largest ten-year volume increases are expected from two major regions, with both regions expected to produce an incremental 14 million m3 over the ten-year period:

- The top 10 European countries (+18%); and

- China (+40%).

China’s increase in lumber production can be achieved only through the importation of logs, as its domestic softwood timber harvest is forecast to have no incremental potential. Russia is expected to gain just 7.5 million m3 of output (+30%) and export fewer logs; in addition, both Russian - and Chinese-owned sawmills are projected to increase capacity in Russia.

All other countries or regions, including Canada, will see limited increases in output; Canada is expected to see its production peak by mid-decade and then decline, for an increase of only 5 million m3 between 2010 and 2020.

Despite huge timber harvest increases, the four Southern Hemisphere countries (excluding South Africa, as it is just outside the top 20) are forecast to increase their output by 5 million m3 (+20%). Only one country in the top 20 — Japan — is projected to see lower lumber production by 2020. Its sawmill industry has been in steady decline, and the bulk of its production is from imported logs.

Source: International Wood Markets Group,

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