||According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN), the world's forested area amounts to around four billion hectares. This corresponds to roughly thirty percent of the world's land area.
Tropical forests account for around 48 percent of the forested area, boreal forests for thirty percent and temperate forests, such as those in North America and Europe, for 22 percent. Here the forested area grew by 29 million hectares in the 1990's. This area is bigger than the territory covered by Great Britain and Denmark together. In the same period, stocks of timber in these forests grew by 21 billion cubic meters.
This would be enough to build a wooden fence one meter high and eight centimeters thick from the Earth to
Logging in temperate forests yields around 1.25 billion cubic meters of wood each year, about one third of the total amount logged in the whole world. At the same time, the temperate zones have the highest rate of logging in terms of forest area, 1.5 cubic meters per hectare - in tropical forests, one cubic meter per hectare is logged.
Despite this proportionally higher rate of logging, forested areas in the temperate zones are growing, in contrast to those in tropical zones. There are several reasons for this:
Thanks to more efficient agriculture, arable land can be returned to forest cover.
Improved, sustainable forest management also contributes to the expansion of forested areas.
As does more efficient processing - the modern wood industry has very low rates of scrap and waste.
More wood than needed
Forests in temperate zones yield more wood than is processed. This is why opening up new markets is one of the biggest challenges to modern forest
management in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Using more wood from the growing temperate forests also makes sense from an ecological point of view.
Forests must be thinned out regularly, otherwise the sun's rays cannot reach the ground, although this light is vital to the flora and fauna on the forest floor - in a dark forest, they die off and the biodiversity decreases.
Trees in managed forests are moreover young, strong and more resistant to diseases and storms. Besides, young trees can store more CO2.