Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Other reports in this collection Timber and Non-Wood Products

Forests contribute to GDP in three main ways: industrial wood products, fuelwood, and the economic impacts of recreation and non-wood products (e.g., mushrooms). Regional estimates generally are available only for the first (industrial) component, which captures the direct value of harvesting timber and the value added by manufacturing. At a global level, forestry contributes approximately 2% to GDP (FAO, 1997a)—6% in Africa, 3% in South America, 2% in North and Central America, and 1% in Europe. In developing countries, forestry contributes 4% to GDP; in developed countries the contribution is 1%. Total industrial timber production in 1997 was 1.5 billion m3, with more than 60% coming from developed countries (FAO, 1997a).

Although income and population growth influence demand for industrial timber, recycling and technological change (e.g., use of wood chips for manufactured products) can affect the quantity harvested from forests. Total industrial wood harvests have remained relatively constant over the past 20 years, even as global population and incomes have increased (FAO, 1998). Global per capita consumption of wood (including fuelwood and roundwood) is about 0.6 m3 yr-1; this level of consumption has been relatively stable over the past 40 years (Solberg et al., 1996). Global fuelwood production in 1996 is estimated to be 1.9 billion m3, with 90% of this production occurring in developing countries (FAO, 1997a). In 1994, annual per capita fuelwood consumption in developing countries was 0.39 m3, versus 0.16 m3 in developed countries (FAO, 1997a). It is estimated that 2 billion people rely on wood and charcoal for fuel (mostly derived from forests), and ensuring an adequate and sustainable supply will continue to be an important pressure on forests.

Non-wood forest products (NWFP)—such as edible mushrooms, nuts, fruits, palm hearts, herbs, spices, gums, aromatic plants, game, fodder, rattan, medicinal and cosmetic products, resins, and the like—make important contributions to household income, food security, national economies, and environmental objectives of conservation of biodiversity (FAO, 1997a). It is estimated that about 80% of the population of the developing world depends on NWFP to meet some of their health and nutritional needs. Several million households worldwide depend heavily on these products for subsistence consumption and income.

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