UN Wood Products Production Data

Each year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) publishes production and trade data for a variety of forest products. Here we look at production volumes over the past (nearly) 60 years.

Roundwood

Figure 1 shows Roundwood (log) production since 1961. Roundwood includes all logs harvested, including wood that is used for heating and cooking.

Figure 1. FAO Roundwood Production (million cubic meters)

Source: UN FAO

Table 1 shows some numbers for roundwood production since 1961. Production for both the US and the rest of the world increased by nearly 60% over the past 58 years. The US made up 11.5% of production in 1961 and 11.6% in 2019, but rose to nearly 15% in 1986

Table 1. FAO Roundwood Production

Industrial Roundwood

Figure 2 shows Industrial Roundwood production since 1961. Industrial roundwood gets processed into lumber, panels and pulp.

Figure 2. FAO Industrial Roundwood Production (million cubic meters)

Source: UN FAO

Table 2 shows that industrial roundwood production has increased faster in the rest of the world than in the US. The US share of production has fallen from nearly 25% in 1961 to just under 20% in 2019. Industrial roundwood accounted for just over one third of timber harvested in 1961, but nearly 50% in 2019.

Table 2. FAO Industrial Roundwood Production

Sawnwood

Figure 3 shows Sawnwood (lumber) production since 1961.

Figure 3. FAO Sawnwood Production (million cubic meters)

Source: UN FAO

Table 3 shows that lumber production has increased at similar rates for the US and the rest of the world, and the US has produced a little under 20% of the world’s lumber since 1961, though it produced over 30% in the late 1990s.

Table 3. FAO Sawnwood Production

Wood-Based Panels

Figure 4 shows Wood-Based Panel production since 1961.

Figure 4. FAO Wood-Based Panel Production (million cubic meters)

Source: UN FAO

Wood-based panel production has grown significantly since 1961, and especially outside the US. The US accounted for 43% of panel production in 1961, but less than 9% in 2019 (Table 4). A portion of this growth came from replacing lumber with plywood in subfloors and sheathing (walls and roofs), and then by the replacement of plywood with oriented strand board (OSB) over the past 50 years. In addition, structural elements such as floor joists made from larger dimensional lumber (e.g., 2x12s and 2x10s and their metric equivalents outside the US) have been replaced by I-joists made by connecting 2 2x4s with an OSB panel.

Table 4. FAO Wood Based Panels Production

Wood Pulp

Figure 5 shows Wood Pulp production since 1961.

Figure 5. FAO Wood Pulp Production (million cubic meters)

Source: UN FAO

Table 5 shows that wood pulp production has also increased faster in the rest of the world than in the US and the US share of production has fallen—but none of the changes have been as great as with wood panels (above).

Table 5. FAO Wood Based Panels Production

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