Global patterns and trends of wood harvest and use between 1990 and 2010

A.L. Bais-Moleman, Christian Lauk, Thomas Kastner, Karl Heinz Erb

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Wood biomass forms the basis for a variety of products and it represents an important source of technical energy. Woodfuels and forests play an important role for climate change mitigation, by their ability to replace fossil fuel and sequester atmospheric carbon. At the same time, wood extraction is an important driver for deforestation. However, large uncertainties relate to the amount and spatio-temporal pattern of wood use. We here present a comprehensive assessment of wood biomass flows in 11 world regions from 1990 to 2010. We found that global total biomass appropriation (TBA) amounts to 1.81 GtC/year in 1990 and 1.94 GtC/year in 2010 (+ 7%). In 2010, TBA represents 4% of the global forest net primary production. Only 54% of TBA enters socioeconomic systems while 46% remain in forests or represent waste flows. About 56% of economically used wood biomass enters the energy sector. There are considerable regional variations in wood biomass flows among world regions, owing to differences in population, affluence, and area. Global demand for wood is expected to increase in the near future, putting additional pressure to forest ecosystems. We discuss the potential of cascading use of wood as a means to reduce impacts related to resource use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-337
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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