World’s Natural Teak Area Shrinks, Planted Area Gains, FAO Says

The world’s natural teak forests shrunk 1.3 percent between 1992 and 2010, while planted forests with the hardwood increased in area, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization reported.

The natural-teak forest area declined by 385,000 hectares (951,335 acres) to an estimated 29 million hectares over the period, led by a drop in India, the Rome-based UN agency wrote in a report on its website today.

India, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar are the only countries with natural teak forests, the FAO wrote. Myanmar has almost half of the natural teak forest and is the only country to produce quality teak from natural forest, as India, Laos and Thailand have bans on logging or log exports in place, it said.

“It is difficult to obtain precise figures on teak forest loss, because teak trees do not grow in pure stands in nature,” Walter Kollert, the FAO’s forestry officer, was cited as saying in the report. “Supply trends point to a continuing decline in the volume and quality of natural teak.”

Natural teak forest declined by an estimated 2.1 million hectares in India, 1.1 million hectares in Myanmar and 68,500 hectares in Laos between 1992 and 2010, according to the FAO. In Thailand, a complete ban on logging in natural forests may have helped natural teak forest grow by 2.9 million hectares, according to the report.

Teak is one of the most valuable hardwoods, and planted teak forest has attracted investment in Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to the FAO. The planted teak area increased in countries including Ghana, Nicaragua, Brazil and Indonesia, the UN agency wrote.

“Although the time until trees reach harvestable dimensions is comparatively long and on average takes between 20 and 80 years, teak planting serves local communities as a savings account,” Kollert said.

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