News and developments in International Forestry

Timber Trade in India

India is likely to face severe shortage of supply of timber to meet its requirement from both domestic and international front. It is estimated that the demand for timber is likely to grow from 58 million cubic metres in 2005 to 153 million cubic meters in 2020. The supply of wood is projected to increase from 29 million cubic meters in 2000 to 60 million cubic meters in 2020. The productivity of timber in India is only 0.7 cu. m/ha/year whereas the world average is 2.1 cu.m/ha/year. The supply of timber is mainly from forest plantations and wood production is showing a negative growth rate. In the absence of adequate supply from domestic sources, the nation has to depend heavily on imports to meet its demand for timber. This will increase the nation’s forest footprint, particularly in South East Asia. In order to minimize the forest footprint, we need to encourage sustainable consumption of timber by promoting forest certification. With the help of GFTN and WWF network, we have actively participated and provided technical inputs to Export Promotion Council of Handicrafts (EPCH) in conducting several supplier summits this year to promote forest certification in India. A study on “Timber Trade and India’s Forest Footprint” has been undertaken as part of “Forest for Life” programme, and the same will be published shortly. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India invited WWF-India to participate and provide inputs to various committees/fora including (i) technical committee on forest certification and (ii) a core group to study applied rates and import duties of the forestry products and their assessment in the multilateral/bilateral trade negotiations. Supply determinants of Timber Trade in India The Planning Commission, Government of India supported a study on “Supply determinants of timber trade in India”. The objectives of the study are to (i) identify and analyse major determinants of supply of timber trade in India; (ii) Analyse the impact of selected forest conservation measures on long term supply of timber; and (iii) suggest suitable recommendations for sustainable supply of timber without compromising forest conservation measures. A strong argument, particularly from the proponents of trade liberalization, has been the adverse effects of forest conservation measures on supply of timber (both production and imports) in India. According to them, these measures are major determinants of limiting the supply (both domestic production and imports) of timber and act as non-tariff barriers to trade. On the other hand, conservationists demand effective implementation of conservation measures and regulate supply of timber to save further loss of forests and tree cover outside forests. They argue that forest conservation measures implemented as part of National Forest Policy are not major factors limiting supply of timber in India. The study is proposed to test this hypothesis empirically. The results of the study will also help us to strengthening our programmes and activities on sustainable timber and establishment of India Forest Trade Network ( India – FTN) as part of Global Forest Trade Net work (GFTN).