China's forest plantations expanding rapidly

Friday 2 Nov 2018

China’s forest resources have entered a rapid development phase as the country’s plantation estate continues to be expanded into the largest in the world. Total net forest area has grown by 12.2 million hectares; this is due mostly to plantations, while forest stocks show a net volume increase of 1.42 billion m3. In total, this amounts to an average increase of 284 million m3 per year (8th National Forest Inventory, 2009–2013).

The Chinese harvest is steadily moving away from natural forests and toward plantations (which now represent 46% of the total national forest harvest) in order to fulfil China’s goal of transferring domestic timber production from natural forests to almost 100% plantations over time.

Accordingly, the country is building a National Timber Strategic Reserve Base aimed at improving forest management practices and establishing a timber security system as a means to improve self-sufficiency and create a stable timber supply. Through the initiative, China will establish 7 million hectares of National Reserve Forestry by the end of 2020 and 20 million hectares by 2035, marked by an average annual incremental stock volume of 200 million m3.

Over time, as the plantation estate expands, log imports are expected to decline. However, with China’s plantations focused heavily on fast-growing, short-rotation eucalyptus and poplar, softwoods are likely to remain in tight supply, keeping softwood imports robust. It takes up to 20 years to grow coniferous trees, so any future supplies from incremental coniferous plantations will not be ready until 2035 at the earliest (excluding previously established coniferous plantations).

Excerpted and summarized from China’s Import Demand for Softwood Logs and Lumber to 2023 • The Changing Supply Chain in China (with a Focus on Russia’s Industry/Export Potential)..

Source: Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA Holdings – Canada Inc

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