Forest resources & Lumbering

  • Not a major contributor to economy compared to other sectors like agriculture or mining but provides us with variety of valuable products like:
    • Timber for construction.
    • Wood as a fuel 
    • Wood for paper & pulp 
    • Minor forest products critical for sustenance of tribal and other forest dwellers.
    • Raw materials for synthetic fibers like Rayon & Acetate. 


Extraction of timber from forests


  • Extraction of timber from planted forests.
  • Better than extraction from virgin forests because:
  • Forests are especially cared for by the foresters therefore they are of similar age and similar quality and often single species. Hence, they can be cut by clear cutting methods with no young trees to be avoided.
  • Extraction easier as plants have been planted keeping in mind transportation. Also allows easy access for inspection, spraying of insecticide etc.
  • Reforestation is normal part of their activity and not an enforced one. 
  • No perpetuation of ecological destruction.

Factors affecting lumbering. 

  • Different climatic zones, different technique, economies of exploitation, degree of degradation
  • Underdeveloped economies of tropical area do not realize full potential compared to temperate and developed temperate areas.


Temperate region usually has forests rich in softwood while tropical areas have forests rich in hardwood.

  • Stands of Timber:
    • Single species stand in temperate forests make it easy to locate and extract.
    • Easy to adopt clear felling due to lack of dense undergrowth as well as absence of buttress roots.
    • Trees smaller and lighter, easy to transport over frozen ground in water.
  • Mechanical extraction: Industrial development is high in temperate region. 
  • Living conditions: Intensification of settled farming rather than a seasonal activity lumberman. Now, settled community treats trees as crops and performs mixed farming.
  • Steady demand for timber:
    • Conifers are cheap source of cellulose (paper and pulp, textile) 
    • Low quality products like paperboard and particle board from other varieties.
    • Temperate areas are location of the major paper and pulp industry. 
    • Traditional use of softwood as timber continues because of their ready availability, compared to hardwoods which are in short supply and tropical hardwoods which need to be imported.
  • Sound forestry techniques:
    • Government intervention in monitoring and care of forest has ensured less devastation and ensuring assured supply to future generation.
    • Reforestation, sound felling practice (cutting in swathes along contours) and careful replanting after felling have minimized erosion.
  • Transportation:
    • Very easy as compared to tropical areas (low undergrowth, single stands; smaller, lighter and thinner logs).
    • Longer colder season makes it easier to transport.
    • Transportation cost is minimized since the Paper and Pulp industry are raw material based and require large quantities of water and hence, they are inevitably located near the same streams very near to forests and hence transportation is never a problem. This contrasts with situation in Burma where Teak takes around a year to reach Rangoon which is then necessarily exported.
  • Access to market:
    • Almost all the major temperate forests are near most developed region of the world and hence there is a constant demand.
    • All those conical forests which are located away from the industrially developed regions like USSR are very less exploited.
    • International trade is majorly carried out in paper & pulp industry which are very easy to transport.


  • There rapid exploitation considering them to be inexhaustible has led to degradation and removal. 
  • People have recently realized that forests would take substantially long time to regenerate.
  • Soil erosion in hilly and sloppy areas which has led to silting of riverbeds and therefore frequent and intense flooding in low lying areas as well as reduced possibilities of navigation.
  • Economic implications: 
    • Over exploitation and almost removal of temperate forests has led to the govt. intervention and establishments of forest commission or departments for restoration.
    • Replanting of forests was deterred because of very long maturity period (100-150 years for oak, 50-70 years for temperate for conifers, 50-100 for tropical) and realization of the fact that they themselves would reap no benefits. And hence only far-sighted foresters did that.
    • Shifting cultivation also depletes forests because they burn mature forests to make way for food And fodder crops:
  • In Malaysia and Philippines (world’s leading hard wood exporter) where forestry is practiced on commercial scale, other problem arises like difficulty of controlling. 
  • Plantation cultivation in topical areas of European colonies (Tea and coffee in India and Sri Lanka, Banana in Central America, Rubber and Sugar cane in Philippines etc.)
  • Low level of research in tropical countries leads to poor forest conservation methods.
  • Forest fires: Natural in hot and dry weather or ignited by human factors.
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