Forests are the dominant terrestrial eco-system on the Earth and supply the global population with a variety of products and services, as well as commercial and employment opportunities. The destruction of forests to create cropland and pastures is a major concern due to its negative impact on climate change and biodiversity.
Deforestation and the impacts of exploitative wood harvesting have led to an increase in the application of sustainable forest management methods. The aim of sustainable forest management is to make economic use of forest lands possible, while striking a balance with ecological and societal concerns. The single uses of forests, such as with the practice of planting monoculture forests to completely harvest them for lumber production, are giving way to a practice of multiple uses at the same time. Forest stands that are increasingly used as carbon sinks and wildlife habitats are, with the correct methods, still being used as lumber sources.
Country with the biggest forest area
Average annual loss of forest area between 2010 and 2020
The total area of forest available for production worldwide stood at 1.15 billion hectares in 2020, only 2.6 percent lower than the 1.18 billion available in 1990. Production area declined steadily from 1990 to 2010 before rebounding in 2015 to 1.19 billion hectares, the highest value observed in this time.
The 2020 value represents roughly 31 percent of total forest area on Earth. Europe has the largest share of its forests designated for production at 53 percent.
Of the total 765 million acres of timberland in the U.S., close to half was owned privately in 2020.
Meanwhile, the federal ownership of timberland only accounted for about 155 million acres of land. Most of this land was part of the national forest system, while over 251 million acres were in other federal lands.
Forestry as an industry concerns itself with the development, cultivation, management, and preservation of forests. The goal of these efforts is to provide lumber wood, sinks for CO², spaces for wildlife, areas for human recreation, and more uses. Depending on management intentions, a variety of methods can be employed such as creating even and uneven-aged forests, clear-cutting, shelterwood cutting, thinning, and selection cutting.
Types and degrees of commercialization and use can drastically vary in the industry. Due to the slow development of forests, the industry is reliant on extensive and well-thought-out long-term planning. This planning becomes more important when multiple uses are desired for a specific forest location, especially if sustainable management of the forest is intended. For the forestry industry, Statista provides data that covers the size of forest areas and their use, wood production, industry leaders, products made from wood, and more.