Wood Industry, Timber Industry

By: EconomyWatch   Date: 29 June 2010

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Trees provide us with more than 5,000 products that people use every day. From photographic film to paints and from toothpaste to tires, tree-based chemicals and other wood by-products are all around us. They provide shade, oxygen, fruit, nuts and wood products such as paper, furniture and housing etc. Benefits are well known, as we use trees in many forms during a day.

Certain examples are like when trees are used to make lumber and plywood, there are leftover chips, bark sawdust. The chips and sawdust are made into wood pulp for paper and other products. Not too long ago, those leftovers would have been burned as waste, however, with new technology coming in, Bark is used forlandscaping, and to generate electricity for paper and lumber mills. Modern forest products operations are very efficient at using every part of a tree. Nothing is wasted.

Trees which are made of tiny fibers and the natural glue that holds them together when wood is turned into pulp for paper, heat and chemicals dissolve the lignin and release the cellulose fibers. Byproducts of this process are used in asphalt, paint, chewing gum, detergents and turpentine.

Cellulose which comes from trees used for paper and much more is a major part ofmelamine dinnerware, toilet seats, tool handles and cellophane. It is also used toproduce helmets, toothbrushes and electrical outlets. Also wood pulping productsare used for many different things, ranging from cleaning compounds, deodorantsand hair spray, to artificial vanilla flavoring, medicines and cosmetics.

Indian Wood Industry

India is very rich in its forest wealth having a huge land area under forests.Fortunately, all varieties of forest growth are found in India, ranging from tropicalhardwood forests to high altitude coniferous forests and from deciduous toevergreen forests and Plantation but unfortunately the forest resources in India isdepleting due to increase of population and other causes.

Sound principles of forest policy, administration, timber production andconservation were introduced by an act of legislature in 1845, and ever sinceIndian forests are being managed on scientific and progressive lines. Large areashave abundance of some of the finest plywood timbers both for constructional anddecorative plywood, Indian teak, Indian Rosewood and Padauk are worldrenownedfor their beauty of figure, grain and texture.

Gurjan, Vellapine, Hollock and Hollong are only a few of the many Indian timbersused for making good commercial plywoods. Such continuous depletion of thenatural forest resources of the country due to various consumption of solid wood,it was felt to conserve the natural resource forest by reconstituted wood productssuch as Plywood, Hardboard, Particleboard and Medium Density Fibreboard tomeet the rising demand of Wood from the general consumer, Railways, Defence,Furniture, Laminate manufacturers and the builders. At the same time also it istrying to meet the wood demand by Bamboo products which are alike to wood.

As per a report published by Department of Industrial Policy and PromotionPlywood, veneers of all types and other wood based products such as particleboard, medium density fibre have been delicensed, vide Department of IndustrialPolicy & Promotion’s Press Note No.11 (1997Series) dated the 17th July,1997.

It also mentions that as Plywood forms the major segment of the wood-basedindustry in the country, businessmen who wish to obtain approval from theGovernment for setting up any wood based project should obtain prior clearancefrom the Ministry of Environment & Forests before submitting the applications tothe Administrative Ministry/SIA and enclose a copy of the 'in principle' approvalgiven by the Ministry of Environment & Forests.

Also it states that as Per the Notification dated 22.1.2007 most of the wood itemshave been dereserved, except wood furniture and fixtures. As per the currentExport & Import Policy, the principal raw material, viz., wood logs are freelyimportable under OGL. The total production of Plywood during 2006-07 was54,45,857 Sq. Mtrs. and production during 2007- 08 (up to December) was43,38,998 Sq. Mtrs. The production of Particle Board during 2006-07 was44,76,704 Sq. Mtrs. and production during 2006- 07(up to December) was47,60,457 Sq. Mtrs. The export and import of plywood during 2006-07 wasRs.126.25 crore and Rs.57.62 crore respectively. The export and import of ParticleBoard during 2006-07 was Rs.18.86 crore and Rs.148.64 crore respectively.

UN’s Perspective

A new report issued by UN said that amid the global financial crisis and thecollapse of the housing sector are a big blow for wood industries, but this is notnecessarily good news for the world's forests. It highlights that new housing startsin the United States had more than halved between 2006 and 2008. Several othercountries, particularly in Western Europe, have witnessed similar declines.

"Wood demand is unlikely to reach the peak of 2005-2006 again in the foreseeablefuture," the FAO's (Food and Agriculture Organization)"State of the World'sForests 2009" report said. It also mentions about the Scaling down of productionis widespread in almost all countries and all forest industries, from logging tosawmilling to production of wood panels, pulp, paper and furniture. Countries thatare highly dependent on U.S. markets, such as Brazil and Canada, have alreadybeen severely affected, adding wood fiber demand in North America alone wasexpected to fall by more than 20 million tonnes this year.

Nevertheless, lower wood demand should be good news for the world'sdisappearing forests, FAO said the economic crisis could reduce investment insustainable forest management and favor illegal logging. A more general concernis that some governments may dilute previously ambitious green goals or defer keypolicy decisions related to future climate change mitigation," the report mentions.It said European Union measures to tackle climate change, particularly auctioningemission allowances, were meeting some resistance, and the U.N.'s REDD schemeaimed at using carbon credits to save rainforests could face similar problems.Worldwide, the loss of forests was 7.3 million hectares (18.04 million acres) a yearbetween 2000 and 2005, equivalent to 200 square km per day, according to U.N.data. Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of man-made carbon emissions.

Conclusion

However, amid the various reports and suggestions certain suggestions have comeup from the advisory committee on Paper and Wood products, which say thatForest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is becoming a non trade barrierfor Indian paper companies. As bulk of the raw material is obtained from farm andagro-forestry, the farmers (huge numbers, running into hundreds of thousands withsmall holdings) find it practically impossible to form groups and obtain the FSCcertificate. Though the farm forestry is a sustainable model promoted by the paperindustry, the FSC principles and criterions are difficult to be satisfied for issuingof certificate. In this connection, GOI is thinking to establish Indian ForestStewardship Council to help the process of certification.

Secondly Research work taken up to control diseases and pests by Semio-chemical,biological control on out-breaks of the pests which are reducing survival andproductivity of Eucalyptus plantations. Forest Research Institutions, AgriculturalUniversities and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research along with IndianPaper Manufacturers Association (IPMA) have drawn up a plan and strategy oncontrol measures as well as introduction of new germ plasm (species) in order tofight this menace so as to ensure availability of wood based raw material oncontinuous and sustainable basis.

EconomyWatch.com Guest Author: Himanshu Talwar, 2009.

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