U.S. tropical lumber imports plunged by nearly half between 2009 and 2008, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, ITTO lists a 70 percent decline in volume for Acajou d’Afrique, 55 percent for Ipe, 54 percent for Sapelli, and 48 percent for Mahogany. The slowdown is thought to be largely attributable to the decline in the U.S. housing market and the tepid economy.
ITTO says that tropical lumber supply and demand seems to have stabilized in 2010, meaning that “import volumes are unlikely to fall any further, and prices should be more stable.”
The global economic crisis has slowed demand for timber products and may undermine efforts to improve the environmental performance of forestry, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its biannual “State of the World’s Forests 2009”, released today. FAO said that falling demand for commodities would reduce pressure to convert forests for croplands as well as delay the development of next-generation biofuel feedstocks derived from fiber. Lower prices for timber and agricultural products, coupled with a difficult financing environment, will sap the viability of once-profitable operations.