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            Currently, the demand for wood products is part of the main investment drivers in forest management. Going by the current trajectory, the consumption and production of wood energy and associated merchandise are bound to increase in the coming years. In particular, the demand from Pacific countries and Asia is on the rise because of the industrialization in emerging economies. In Europe, the implementation of policies on a green economy will also increase the demand for wood energy. Paulownia is one of the best sources of timber because it is light and strong. The rise in the need for timber across the world has made paulownia one of the most demanded products.

            A seedling of paulownia takes a ten-year cycle to mature. On average, it provides a 300 feet timber board. However, if left to mature more, the trees continue to grow in value and volume (Olave et al. 65). In China, an 18-year-old tree has a volume of 6.5m and a diameter of 1m. For this reason, many farmers are switching to the tree planting to improve their fortunes. Other growers are taking on investing in seedlings to be used in the future. The seedlings, once planted, do not require a lot of maintenance regarding labor and cost.

            The monetary value of the paulownia tree fluctuates based on the grade of the wood. For instance, the price will be between $250 and $550 for every cubic meter in China (Olave et al. 35). In Australia, the cost is significantly high. The average price is $20,000 per cubic meter (Olave et al. 35). The table below provides a guide that determines the quality of timber. The most significant market for paulownia timber is Japan and China. The wood is a direct replacement of product from the rainforest around South America and Asia. Recent environmental campaigns have reduced the manufacture of timber goods from the rainforests.

Small end Diameter Growth Rings Per Inch (Grade Type)
  8 6 4 4 <4
20+ A1 B1 C1 D E
16 – 19 A2 B2 C2 D E
12 – 15 A3 B3 C3 D E
8 – 11 A4 B4 C4 D E

 (El-Showk and N. El-Showk 2003)  

Consumption and production of wood energy and products are expected to rise steadily up to the year 2030. The historical trend of the rise is said to be 1% per annum. Different factors contribute to the increase in demand (Singh 25). One such element is the increase in population. Current statistics indicate that the global population is 7 billion; by 2030, the number is expected to rise to 8.2 billion. Secondly, there is a projection of growth of the worldwide GDP from the current $16 trillion to $100 trillion in 2030 (El-Showk and N. El-Showk 2003).

The table below shows the global actual and projected consumption of the paulownia timber.

    Actual 2015 Projected 2030
Round Wood Production 1668 2457
Consumption 1682 2436
Sawn Wood Production 417 603
Consumption 421 594
Wood Based Panels Production 234 521
Consumption 241 521
Paperboard Production 363 743
  Consumption 365 747

(El-Showk and N. El-Showk 2003)

Global Supply of Paulownia

  Annual Plantation  
  Establishment Total Plantation Area
Region 1980-1990 1990
  1000 hectares 1000 hectares
Central and South America1 322 7,765
Africa1 158 4,416
Australia and New Zealand2 50 2,044
Iberia3 NA 6,450
Asia-Pacific1 471 9,404
India1 1,009 13,230
China1 1,140 31,831
Total 3,140 75,140

(Sohngen et al. 1997)

Global Demand of Paulownia

    North America Nordic FSU China Total
  PNW Central Boreal   Siberia Northern Southern  
        Million Hectares      
Initial Area 8.9 22.5 125.2 19.6 321.5 14.4 16.4 528.5
Scenario   Area Accessed (1990 – 2140), Million Hectares  
Baseline 5.2 21.3 20.9 5.0 14.6 7.7 5.8 80.5
Low plantation 5.6 22.5 22.6 5.3 15.8 8.3 6.3 86.5
High plantation 4.5 18.1 17.9 4.2 12.3 6.6 4.9 68.5
Low demand 3.5 14.1 14.0 3.4 9.4 5.1 3.7 53.1
High demand 7.4 22.5 30.1 7.0 21.4 11.2 8.6 108.1
High Inaccessible 8.9 22.5 44.5 10.0 32.4 14.4 13.0 145.7

(Sohngen et al. 1997)

The paulownia tree is best suited for the timber needs today. Because of the rising demand for wood, the tree provides low cost and environmentally sustainable timber. Paulownia reforestation projects help timber producers to achieve their need conveniently. Countries with large forested areas import timber from countries with paulownia to protect their forest cover. The tree has a higher likelihood to succeed in areas with limited forest cover. Proper management of the paulownia plantations can help in the alleviation of economic and environmental hardships in the developing nations.

Works Cited


El-Showk, Sedeer, and Nabil El-Showk. “The Paulownia Tree.” An Alternative for Sustainable Forestry, Crop Development, Morocco, 2003, pp. 1-8.

Olave, Rodrigo, et al. “Survival, Early Growth, and Chemical Characteristics of Paulownia Trees for Potential Biomass Production in a Cool Temperate Climate.” Irish Forestry, 2015.

Singh, Kuldeep Kumar. Economic Competitiveness of Paulownia as a Feedstock for Ethanol and Electricity Production. Diss. Tennessee State University, 2015.

Sohngen, Brent, et al. “An analysis of global timber markets.” Resources for the Future, Washington, District of Columbia, USA 35 (1997).

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