Much is reported about the destruction of natural forests and the consequences for global warming, while on the other hand, exotic plantations in some regions struggle to gain public acceptance. The earth's population is projected to rise to around 9 billion by 2050, with a concomitant increase in demand for forest products. Inevitably, forests in general, and managed forest in particular, will be called on to provide an ever-increasing proportion of local supplies and the international wood trade. Five countries - China, USA, Russian Federation, India and Japan - have each established more than 10 million ha of plantation forests, collectively accounting for 65% of the global plantation resource. Forest managers have made huge strides over the past 200 years or so in improving crops through the application of silviculture and genetics. Yields and quality have been greatly increased in managed forests and exotic plantations by spacing and pruning regimes that allow shorter rotations and improved quality. A common issue is now the higher proportion of juvenile wood produced in these situations, but technologies such as material segregation and recombination are reducing the impact on customers. A major emerging factor is the growing awareness of the significant contribution of forests to global warming by decision-makers, and pressure of commitments to international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol. This could lead to governments around the world creating and introducing a more favourable business climate for forestry activities, and a very significant increase in the proportion of global wood products derived from managed forests. However, the wood products industries cannot be complacent, as each generation brings new breeds of end users with less sentimental attachment with wood.
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