IV. Securing the Supply and Utilization of Wood Products
1. Utilization of Wood Products
In order to fulfill the multiple roles of forests, proper management of forests through the utilization of wood products is important.
The number of construction of wooden houses decreased to 520 thousand in 2001. However, the rate of wooden houses to all independent houses was 82%, showing strong orientation to wooden houses in Japan.
Recently, public facilities, including schools and post offices, are increasingly constructed with wood. Further, wood use in public civil engineering projects, including road construction and forest conservation, is also on the rise. In FY 2001, the volume of thinned wood used in these projects reached 310 thousand m3, nearly 1.7 times of the volume two years before.
2. Trend of Demand / Supply of Wood Products
In 2001, the demand for wood products (sawn timber) was 91.24 million m3, down by 8.02 million m3 from the previous year. This is the lowest level since 1983 when the Japanese economy was in recession due to the slump of demand for detached houses with a high proportion of wooden houses.
The supply of forest products decreased for both domestic timber and imported timber in 2001. However, the self-sufficiency rate rose by 0.2 points, reaching 18.4%.
The price of structural laminated lumber has been rising since June 2002. This rise is attributed to the increase in the export of European timber to the United States and the currency appreciation of Euro.
On the other hand, the annual average price of sawn sugi products is on the decline due to the decrease in demand, caused by the insufficient supply of dried wood.
3. Challenge for the Establishment of the Secured Supply System of Wood Products
Currently, the share of dried wood in wood products supply in Japan is still 13%.
In response to requests for wood products with reliable quality, that is, to avoid distortion after construction, it is important to expand the production of dried wood by reducting the drying costs through shortening drying process with the introduction of high-temperature drying system by using wood residues at factories as heating materials.
Since the volume of log import has been decreasing due to the limitation of forest resources in the South-east Asia, the volume of plywood production has decreased, while the share of coniferous plywood in plywood production has increased.
Due to the development of processing machines that can process smaller logs and through utilizing logs with lower prices, the use of domestic coniferous wood for plywood production increased by 60% in 2001, compared to the previous year.
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