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  Why India needs to import timber from other countries?

[Feb 12, 2024]

    The growing demand for wood-based products is one of the primary reasons why India imports timber. With the increasing population and urbanization, the demand for timber has been on a constant rise for the past few decades.

    How much India imports timber?

    As per the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report, India¡¯s annual demand for wood is around 63 million cubic meters, out of which around 30 million cubic meters are met through domestic production, and the remaining 33 million cubic meters are imported.

    One of the significant reasons behind the rise in timber imports is the lack of sustainable forestry practices in India. According to the Indian State of Forest Report 2019, the country¡¯s forest cover is around 24.56% of its total geographical area.

    However, the forest cover has been on a constant decline, and the quality of forests has been degraded due to over-exploitation, illegal logging, and encroachments. This has resulted in a decline in the availability of timber in the country.

    Types of wood available in India

    According to Vikram Verma, the secretary of New Timber Trade Marketing Association, there are various types of wood available in India, including marandi from Malaysia and Indonesia, New Zealand pine, maple from Canada, teak from South American and African countries, as well as oak, ash, and spruce. Additionally, there is domestically grown teak and other imported varieties that customers purchase.

    Due to rapid urbanization, India¡¯s demand for timber is expected to increase significantly, as noted in the ¡°India Timber Supply and Demand 2010-2030¡± report by retired forester Promode Kant and scientist Raman Nautiyal.

    The report estimates that the total roundwood demand in 2020 was approximately 57 million cubic meters. The furniture industry is also expected to experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13% by 2024, as wooden furniture and interiors continue to gain popularity.

    India¡¯s increasing demand for wood

    The ¡°India Timber Supply and Demand 2010-2030¡± report has revealed that India¡¯s import of wood and wood products has risen from $1,331 million in 2009 to approximately $1,950 million in 2019. The value of pulp has also increased from $240 million to $510 million during the same period.

    The report estimates that the demand for timber in India will continue to rise, with a projected demand of 98 million cubic meters by 2030. The furniture industry is expected to drive a significant portion of this demand, with roundwood demand projected to increase from 9 million cubic meters in 2021 to 13 million cubic meters in 2030.

    In addition to the furniture industry, other wood-based industries, such as plywood, are also expected to contribute to the increased demand for wood. The report projects that the demand for wood by these industries will rise from 15 million cubic meters in 2021 to more than 57 million cubic meters in 2030.

    List of countries India imports timber

    India is a major importer of wood and wood products, ranking third in the world in terms of volume. The country relies on imports to meet the high demand for wood due to its large population and diverse industrial applications.

    Malaysia, Germany, and Ukraine are among India¡¯s top timber exporters, although other countries such as Myanmar, Canada, and New Zealand also supply significant volumes. India¡¯s dependence on imported timber is driven by factors such as domestic demand, cost-effectiveness, and unique industrial requirements.

    However, the country is taking steps to promote sustainable forestry practices to reduce reliance on imports and protect its forest resources.

    India imports timber for various reasons

  • Meeting the domestic demand: India has a large population, and the demand for wood and wood products is high. However, the country¡¯s forest cover is limited, and sustainable forestry practices have not been implemented to their full potential. As a result, India imports timber to meet the domestic demand for wood and wood products.

  • Diverse industrial applications: Wood and wood products are used in various industries, such as construction, furniture, paper, and packaging. India¡¯s growing economy and infrastructure development have increased the demand for wood and wood-based products, which cannot be met through domestic production alone.

  • Cost-effective: Importing timber from countries where it is produced in abundance and at lower costs can be more cost-effective than producing it domestically.
    Unique requirements: Some industries in India have specific requirements for the type, quality, and size of wood, which cannot be met through domestic production alone. Therefore, importing timber is necessary to meet these unique requirements.

    Overall, India¡¯s dependence on imported timber is driven by a combination of factors such as domestic demand, diverse industrial applications, cost-effectiveness, and unique requirements.

    Source: groundreport.in