China’s wood industry – challenges and solutions

I was doing some reading about China’s wood industry this weekend and the implications for the furniture industry in China. The picture of China often painted is as a country that lays waste to the environment. But in fact since the late 1970s China has increased its forested lands from 8 % to 20% ( World Bank statistic) through an aggressive tree-planting program. The program is meant to reduce erosion and prevent flooding. And China protects these newly forested areas. Lumber and furniture Mills therefore have to rely on domestic plantation lumber and on imported lumber for which there is great demand in China. But it is still not enough as there are about 15,000 furniture factories in China and China’ is the world’s greatest consumer of furniture. Not to mention that over 50% of global plywood and MDF production occurs in China,

One of the interesting things that is happening now is that the Chinese are developing many bamboo alternatives to wood as timber resources in China are pushed to the limit. If your industry is home furnishings or flooring then you are probably starting to see things like “plybamboo” Bamboo LVL (laminated veneer lumber), Bamboo veneer, bamboo lumber. China grows about 8 % of the world’s bamboo, about 54 million hecacters so supply is abundant. The next time you have a project which uses wood, ask your vendor about bamboo substitutes. And concentrate on a vendor in the South ( Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi ) where bamboo is plentiful and where furniture production facilities are more advanced.

As I always say, do your research and target your suppliers accordingly.

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