With a world population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050 – an increase of nearly 30 percent from today’s 7.6 billion – needs for food, fuel, fiber and other bio-based products and services will rise sharply. Demand for forest-based biomass will increase, driven by construction and packaging, and wood fuel will remain the main energy source for many households in emerging economies.
At the same time, climate change, ecosystem degradation and their impacts call for deep changes in our global production and consumption patterns. Societies are engaging in the decarbonization of their economies and the restoration of their environment – with a prominent role for nature-based solutions. Forests and trees are an essential nature-based solution to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy by providing opportunities for substituting fossil carbon based and greenhouse gas-intensive products with renewable forest-based products.
However, this demand for wood products will have to be met in a context of decreasing forest area, with 420 million hectares of forest lost to deforestation over the past 30 years, mainly in tropical countries (1990 to 2020). Meeting the rising demand for wood products in a sustainable manner will require a series of complementary actions along the value wood chain. However, these changes will not be sufficient if wood production itself does not increase. Planted forests, defined as forests that at maturity are predominantly composed of trees established through planting and/or deliberate seeding only represent 7 percent of the global forest area.
Plantations, which make up less than half of the total planted forest area, produced in 2012 about 35 percent of the world’s total roundwood. Planted forests hold untapped potential to fulfill future needs in wood products, while mitigating climate change and restoring degraded forest ecosystems. They should become a more important component of sustainably managed and well-developed forest sectors for socio-economic development and environmental protection
This fifth International Congress on Planted Forests will be the opportunity to review and discuss challenges and opportunities in harnessing the potential of planted forests to meet growing human needs, restore forest ecosystems, and mitigate climate change.