Natural teak forests are declining worldwide and the quality of natural grown teak wood is deteriorating, a new global Teak Resources and Market Assessment conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 60 tropical countries has shown.
The assessment, released march 26, 2012 also revealed that planted teak forests are increasing in area and when good management practices are applied — could lead to production of high quality wood.
According to the FAO survey, natural teak forests declined in area by 385,000 ha globally, or by 1.3% between 1992 and 2010. “Substantial declines have been particularly notable in Laos (down by 68,500 ha), India (down 2.1 million ha), and Myanmar (down 1.1 million ha),” the UN agency said.
“Although there is no better up-to-date information on teak resources available at the moment, data provided by the survey must be handled with care,” said Walter Kollert, FAO Forestry Officer.
“It is difficult to obtain precise figures on teak forest loss, because teak trees do not grow in pure stands in nature. Natural teak forests are mixed deciduous or tropical evergreen forests which have a share of teak of between 4% and 35%,” Kollert added.
The report however attributed the recovery of natural teak forests to Thailand who completely banned logging in natural forests since 1989. “It may have contributed to the recovery of natural teak forests, which are reported to have increased by 2.9 million ha,” the FAO’s report observed.
Teak is said to be one of the most important and valuable hardwoods in the world, and planted teak forests have attracted large private sector investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
As a result, the FAO says the planted teak area has increased in Africa (Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania), Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama), South America (Ecuador, Brazil) and Asia (India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos).
“Although the time until trees reach harvestable dimensions is comparatively long and on average takes between 20 and 80 years, teak planting serves local communities as a savings account and in the long run helps smallholders improve their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their children,” added Kollert.
In the future it can be expected that sustained production of teak logs from natural forests will be further limited due to continuing deforestation and competition for environmental services, according to Kollert.
Asia holds more than 90% of the world’s teak resources, and India alone manages 38% of the world’s planted teak forests.
Eleven out of fourteen reporting countries named India as their number one importer, absorbing 70 to 100% of global teak exports, including shipments of plantation logs and sawn timber from Africa and Latin America, the FAO indicated.
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