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The importance of hardwood plantations in the tropics and sub-tropics

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The importance of tropical and sub-tropical hardwoods in industrial wood production in relation to market opportunities are discussed. Forest plantation areas in 1995 are presented based on a comprehensive study made within the framework of UK/FAO Trust Fund Project. Reported gross plantation areas tended to be higher than the actual plantation resources and reduction factors were used to derive net plantation areas. Of the net area of 56.3 million ha of forest plantations in the tropics and sub-tropics in 1995, 32.3 million ha were hardwood species and 24.0 million ha were softwoods. Special attention is given to the most valuable 'luxury' hardwoods: teak, mahogany and rosewood. Indicative estimates of teak standing volume (industrial wood) annually available are presented showing Asia dominating production. According to five case studies, in Malaysia, the Melanesian Islands, Central America, Australia and Ghana, governments have a significant role in initiating hardwood plantation development. Recommendations are given for promoting the establishment of hardwood plantations in the tropics and sub-tropics. Demonstration plantations should be established, impediments for foreign investments should be minimised and reviews of legislation and regulations should be made, as necessary. A strategy of plantation development should be part of national forest programmes and plantation opportunities should be promoted. During the coming decades tropical hardwood plantations will produce an increasing volume of valuable timber. In the long term it is likely that the demand for tropical hardwood plantation grown industrial roundwood will exceed supply. There remains good market potential for valuable hardwood plantations, but if this potential is not realised the opportunity will be lost to substitute wood and non-wood products.
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Keywords: Dalbergia spp; Swietenia spp; Tectona grandis; hardwoods; plantations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Visiting expert, Forest Resources Development Service, Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, Italy;, Email: [email protected] 2: Senior Forestry Officer, Forest Resources Development Service, Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, Italy;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 June 2002

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