Forests Under Inspection

New method measures Europe's timber consumption

timber consumption
  • News 23.04.2018

Due to the rising demand for renewable energy all over the world, the need for timber as an energy source is increasing, which increases pressure on global forests. To ensure sustainability even under difficult circumstances, the consumption of timber requires a robust monitoring system. The article "European Timber Consumption: Developing a Method to Account for Timber Flows and the EU's Global Forest Footprint" takes a first step toward more systemic monitoring by asking how the global use of forests by EU consumers can be accounted for. The authors, Dr. Meghan O'Brien, Research Fellow of the Wuppertal Institute's Research Unit Circular Economy, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Bringezu, Director at the Center for Environmental Systems Research, developed a method of global land use accounting for consumption of primary timber between 2002 and 2011 in terms of both volume and forest area.

The article assesses international trade flows for around 100 commodities, which are then converted into a volume of primary raw timber based on conversion values. Results reveal that both imports and exports increased over the assessed time period, with primary EU-27 timber demand estimated to be around 1 cubic metre per cap in 2011. Key challenges to further improving the robustness of the method relate to closing data gaps, raising data reliability and harmonising conversion values. Future research may focus on improving the method to address in particular recycled and recovered flows as well as the question of whether area or volume is the most appropriate metric for further development of a forest footprint indicator.

The article, published in the journal "Ecological Economics", can be purchased under the following link.