Forests, money, and jobs


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Every once in a while I like to do a messages without a story, a moral or a lesson – just the facts. An FAO report called Trends and Current Status of the Contribution of the Forestry Sector to National Economies has lots of them. It is full of new numbers on the value of forestry sector production and exports and how many jobs it provides.

Did you know:

* In 2000, the global forestry industry generated over $350 billion in value added. Half of that was pulp and paper. Furniture, which is counted separately, delivered another $80 billion.

* The global forestry sector barely grew at all between 1990 and 2000. While forestry activities grew in Latin America and tropical Asia, they declined in Europe and Japan.

* Africa only supplied 2% of global forestry sector value-added and exports in 2000. Nonetheless, logging and wood processing contributed more than 3% of the Gross Domestic Product in 21 countries in Africa.

* Eighty percent of all Latin American forestry production is in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.

* Global forestry exports (adjusted for inflation) rose 50% between 1990 and 2000 to $144 billion.

* The formal forestry sector employs 13 million people, more or less equally divided between the pulp and paper sector, wood-based industries, and forestry activities in the field. The formal furniture sector employed another 3.5 million.

* Developing countries account for only one quarter of the value-added by the global forestry sector. However, 70% of all forestry jobs in the formal sector are in developing countries.

* Between 1990 and 2000, the forestry industries of Latin America and the developing countries of Asia added one million new formal sector jobs.

For more fun facts, please take a look at the full report.


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Further reading

To request a free electronic copy of the paper or to send comments or queries to the author, you can write Adrian Whiteman at

The full reference for the paper is: Lebedys, Arvydas 2004. Trends and Current Status of the Contribution of the Forestry Sector to National Economies, Rome: FAO.