The region holds 80% of temperate forests and supplies a majority of global wood and wood products. What can be said is that the industry has made many adjustments (cost cutting, consolidations and finding overseas outlets for products) which have contributed to a more stable and predictable market (a key element in attracting investment into the sector). Consumption of forest products in 2013 within the UNECE region has been uneven, with Europe stagnating, the CIS and North America showing a modest growth.
Demand for many forest products has been deeply affected by developments in the key housing and construction sector. Recession, sovereign debt problems, low rates of household formation and lethargic economies continue to constrain Europe’s housing construction market; with no improvement expected before 2015 or 2016.
Housing completions in the Russian Federation achieved record levels in 2013, with a total of 912,100 new dwellings built, an increase of 10.3% over 2012 and the largest number of new dwellings built in a single year for more than 20 years. In North America, the US housing market remains in the early stages of recovery, although housing starts and new house sales are still at the lowest levels recorded since 1963.
Although recent developments for most forest products markets still do not warrant being labelled as a “recovery”, the industry is looking forward to the promise of increased global demand, pent up domestic demand and the fact that wood products hold many solutions to improving the sustainability of the region’s economy and the global environment. The Review analyzes innovations in wood energy, tall buildings built with engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber and new-generation wood-based fabrics which can fill society’s need for sustainable clothing.
Asia, and particularly China, continues to transform the global supply chain, taking in wood and primary wood products from the UNECE region to transform them into finished products that are subsequently re-exported back to the region.