Position Paper, Fastwood Plantations
There are currently 200 million hectares of plantation forests in the world. The term plantation includes a wide range of commercially planted forests, and trees planted for community use as well as non-production purposes. A small proportion of plantations, often referred to as Fastwood Plantations, and variously estimated at 15-40Mn ha worldwide, are intensively managed and will contribute disproportionately to future industrial wood supply.
It is estimated that in Asia, Africa and Latin America, up to 40% of industrial wood supply will come from such sources by the year 2010. However, these Fastwood Plantations are controversial: much of their expansion has come from the conversion of natural forests and other areas of high conservation values such as grasslands and wetlands. Their establishment has in many cases also resulted in significant social consequences due to a disregard for the rights and interests of local communities.
WWF recognizes that well-managed and appropriately located fastwood plantations can play an important role in healthy, diverse and multi-functional forest landscapes, and can thus provide conditions that are compatible both with biodiversity conservation and human needs. In addition the fastwood plantation industry can contribute to economic growth and generate employment. However, without significant changes in policies and practices, in many regions the expansion of fastwood plantations will continue to cause controversy by threatening forest dependant peoples and high conservation value areas.
WWF therefore calls upon the forest products industry, regulators, financiers and other stakeholders to work collectively to develop and promote the adoption of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable practices in fastwood plantation forestry. These should be communicated through publicly available policies with regular reporting to stakeholders on performance.