7 Reasons Why Wood Import Is Crucial for Sustainable Development
Wood is one of the most versatile and renewable materials on the planet. It can be used for construction, furniture, paper, fuel, and many other purposes. But not all wood is created equal. Some types of wood are more durable, resistant, and suitable for certain applications than others. That’s why wood import is a vital activity for many countries and regions that want to meet their needs and goals for sustainable development.
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In this article, we will explore seven reasons why wood import is crucial for sustainable development and how it can benefit the environment, the economy, and the society.
1. Wood import can help preserve biodiversity and ecosystems.
One of the main challenges of sustainable development is to conserve the natural resources and the biodiversity of the planet. Wood import can help achieve this by reducing the pressure on local forests and preventing deforestation. By importing wood from countries that have abundant and well-managed forests, such as Canada, Finland, or Sweden, other countries can avoid overexploiting their own forests and degrading their ecosystems. This way, they can preserve the habitats and the species that depend on them, as well as the ecosystem services that forests provide, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation, soil protection, and climate regulation.
2. Wood import can support green building and energy efficiency.
Another challenge of sustainable development is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. Wood import can support this by promoting green building and energy efficiency. Wood is a low-carbon material that requires less energy to produce, transport, and process than other materials, such as concrete, steel, or plastic. Wood also has a high thermal insulation capacity, which means that it can help reduce the energy consumption and the heating and cooling costs of buildings. Moreover, wood can store carbon for a long time, especially when used in durable products, such as furniture or flooring. By importing wood from countries that have low-carbon forestry practices, such as using renewable energy sources or planting more trees than they harvest, other countries can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to climate action.
3. Wood import can create jobs and income opportunities.
A third challenge of sustainable development is to promote economic growth and social inclusion. Wood import can create jobs and income opportunities for both the importing and the exporting countries. For the importing countries, wood import can stimulate the demand and the supply of wood products and services, such as carpentry, joinery, furniture making, paper making, or wood processing. This can create employment and income for workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses in these sectors. For the exporting countries, wood export can generate revenue and foreign exchange from the international trade of wood products. This can support the development and the diversification of their economies and improve their trade balance.
4. Wood import can enhance cultural diversity and heritage.
A fourth challenge of sustainable development is to respect cultural diversity and heritage. Wood import can enhance this by fostering cultural exchange and appreciation. Wood is not only a material but also a cultural symbol that reflects the history, the identity, and the values of different peoples and regions. By importing wood from different countries and cultures, other countries can learn about their traditions, their crafts, their arts, and their lifestyles. They can also enrich their own culture by incorporating new elements, styles, or influences from other cultures. For example, they can use imported wood to create new designs or products that combine local and foreign features or techniques.
5. Wood import can improve quality of life and well-being.
A fifth challenge of sustainable development is to improve quality of life and well-being for all people. Wood import can improve this by enhancing the physical and mental health of people. Wood is a natural and organic material that has positive effects on human health. Studies have shown that wood can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, improve mood,
and boost immunity. Wood also creates a warm, cozy, and comfortable atmosphere that makes people feel more relaxed and happy. By importing wood from countries that have high-quality and healthy wood products, such as those that are certified by environmental or social standards or labels,
other countries can improve their living conditions and their well-being.
6. Wood import can foster innovation and creativity.
A sixth challenge of sustainable development is to foster innovation and creativity for solving problems and finding solutions. Wood import can foster this by stimulating new ideas and possibilities for using wood in different ways. Wood is a flexible and adaptable material that can be shaped, cut, carved, glued, painted, or combined with other materials to create various products or structures. By importing wood from countries that have innovative and creative wood industries or sectors, such as those that use advanced technologies or methods or produce novel or original products, other countries can inspire their own innovation and creativity for using wood in new or improved ways.
7. Wood import can strengthen international cooperation and partnerships.
A seventh challenge of sustainable development is to strengthen international cooperation and partnerships for achieving common goals and addressing shared challenges. Wood import can strengthen this by building trust and mutual understanding between different countries and regions. Wood import is a form of trade and exchange that involves communication, negotiation, and collaboration between various actors, such as governments, businesses, organizations, or communities. By importing wood from countries that have similar or compatible values, interests, or objectives, such as those that are committed to sustainable development or share a common vision or agenda, other countries can strengthen their international cooperation and partnerships for advancing their wood sectors and their sustainable development.
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Wood Import: A Global Perspective
Wood is one of the most widely used natural resources in the world, with applications ranging from construction and furniture to paper and bioenergy. The global demand for wood and its products has been increasing over the years, driven by population growth, urbanization, economic development and environmental concerns. However, the availability and sustainability of wood supply vary across regions and countries, depending on factors such as forest resources, management practices, trade policies and market conditions. In this article, we will examine some of the latest statistics and trends on wood import, focusing on three aspects: the volume, value and origin of imported wood products.
Volume of Wood Import
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global production of wood products in 2020 was 3 912 million cubic meters (m³) of roundwood, 473 million m³ of sawnwood and 367 million m³ of wood-based panels . However, not all of these products were consumed domestically, as some countries exported their surplus production to meet the demand of other countries. The global trade of wood products in 2020 was 140 million m³ of roundwood, 153 million m³ of sawnwood and 88 million m³ of wood-based panels.
The major importers of roundwood in 2020 were China (44% of global imports), Austria (9%), Sweden (5%), Finland (5%) and Germany (4%) . The major importers of sawnwood were China (23%), the United States (18%), the United Kingdom (5%), Germany (4%) and Japan (3%) . The major importers of wood-based panels were the United States (17%), Germany (7%), the United Kingdom (4%), Japan (3%) and the Republic of Korea (3%).
The volume of wood import has been fluctuating over time, depending on the demand and supply conditions in different markets. For example, the import of roundwood increased by 12% from 2000 to 2020, but decreased by 1% from 2019 to 2020. The import of sawnwood increased by 34% from 2000 to 2020, but decreased by 3% from 2019 to 2020. The import of wood-based panels increased by 67% from 2000 to 2020, but decreased by 2% from 2019 to 2020.
Value of Wood Import
The value of wood import reflects not only the quantity but also the quality and price of the imported products. According to FAO, the global value of forest products trade in 2020 was US$244 billion, which was a decrease of 10% from 2019 . The value of forest products trade includes not only wood products but also pulp, paper and other non-wood forest products.
The major importers of forest products in terms of value in 2020 were China (US$49 billion), the United States (US$37 billion), Germany (US$15 billion), Japan (US$13 billion) and Italy (US$10 billion) . These five countries accounted for more than half of the global value of forest products import in 2020.
The value of wood import has also been changing over time, depending on the price trends and exchange rates in different markets. For example, the value of forest products trade increased by 68% from 2000 to 2020, but decreased by 10% from 2019 to 2020 . The value of forest products trade in US dollars may also differ from the value in local currencies due to currency fluctuations.
Origin of Wood Import
The origin of wood import indicates where the imported products come from and how they are sourced. The origin of wood import can have implications for the environmental and social impacts of wood production and consumption, such as deforestation, forest degradation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights violations and illegal logging.
One way to assess the origin of wood import is to look at the share of tropical wood in the total import. Tropical wood refers to wood that comes from tropical forests, which are located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical forests are home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species, but they are also under threat from various drivers of deforestation and degradation .
According to Eurostat, the share of tropical wood in the EU’s total wood import (in value terms) was about 20% in 2020 . This share has been declining over time, from 27% in 2000 to 20% in 2020 . The main sources of tropical wood import for the EU in 2020 were Cameroon (29% of the total), followed by Gabon, Malaysia and Indonesia, all accounting for 15-16% .
Another way to assess the origin of wood import is to look at the status of the exporting countries in terms of forest governance and legality. The EU has been implementing the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan since 2003, which aims to prevent the import of illegal wood products into the EU market and to promote sustainable forest management in partner countries . One of the key instruments of the FLEGT Action Plan is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which is a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country that establishes a system to verify the legality of wood products and to issue FLEGT licenses for legal products .
As of 2021, there are 15 countries that have signed or are negotiating VPAs with the EU, covering about 80% of the EU’s tropical wood import . However, only six of these countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia and Viet Nam) have started issuing FLEGT licenses, while the others are still in the process of implementing their VPA commitments . The share of FLEGT-licensed wood in the EU’s total wood import (in value terms) was about 4% in 2020 .
Wood import is a complex and dynamic phenomenon that involves multiple factors and actors. The volume, value and origin of wood import can vary across regions and countries, depending on the demand and supply conditions, price trends, exchange rates, forest resources, trade policies and market preferences. Wood import can have positive and negative impacts on the environment and society, depending on how the wood products are sourced and consumed. Therefore, it is important to monitor and analyze the statistics and trends on wood import, as well as to promote sustainable and legal trade of wood products.
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