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Latin America and the Caribbean to Use More Wood From Planted Forests
Washington, DC, USA, and Rome, Italy, 01 August 2006 -- /PRNewswire/ -- More than 60% of the sustainable wood supply in Latin America and the Caribbean will come from planted forests by the year 2020, leaving more natural forests untouched, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today.

According to FAO forecasts in the recently published "Forestry Sector Outlook Study for Latin America and the Caribbean," annual potential wood supply from sustainably managed planted forests will increase from 10.7 to 16.9 billion cubic feet from 2003 to 2020.

Potential wood supply from natural forests will shrink from 11.3 to 10.4 billion cubic feet in the same period.

The shift from natural forests to planted forests for wood supplies in the region is also being driven by increasingly restricted access to natural forests and greater regulation in the management and use of natural resources.

Planted forests -- productive and competitive

At the same time, intensive reforestation programs, in most countries led by the private sector and supported by national programs, resulted in high productivity and competitiveness of planted forests.

Most forest plantations are medium- to large-scale and privately owned. Increasingly, communities are also managing small-scale forest plantations.

In many cases, large-scale forest industries support small-scale planted forest programs in collaboration with rural communities, providing know-how and improved seed stock. They also assist in securing long-term markets, making wood from planted forests competitive.

"The more wood that comes from planted forests, the more natural forests in Latin America and the Caribbean will be conserved. This is definitely a positive trend," said Olman Serrano, an FAO senior forestry officer responsible for the study.

Deforestation continues

Planted forests are forecast to increase from 32 million acres in 2005 to 42.7 million acres in 2020.

Although most of the wood supply will come from planted forests, natural forests in Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to shrink from 2.3 to 2.2 billion acres during the same period.

The study cites the expansion of agriculture and cattle raising as main causes for deforestation in the region.

Expected population growth from 520 million in 2004 to 620 million in 2020 and economic growth are likely to lead to a corresponding increase in the demand of forest products, including fuelwood and charcoal for domestic and industrial uses, adding further pressure on forest resources.

On the other hand, greater environmental awareness in the region is expected to boost the expansion of protected areas, according to the study.

Protected areas have increased between 1950 and 2000, from 43 million acres to 953.8 million acres, reaching close to 23% of the global protected areas. FAO said this trend is likely to continue.

For more information about FAO go to: http://www.fao.org/

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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