Costa Rica’s Timber Industry Losing Ground to Substitutes, Must Innovate

In September 5, 2017

(CR) – As Costa Rica seeks to increase revenue from exports, various sectors are exploring ways to be more competitive, including the timber industry, said the  Costa Rican Trade Promotion Agency (Procomer).

The agency’s recent study, “The World Timber Market and Trends for Value-Added Products,” recommended that the national timber sector develop ideas for new value-added products.

According to the study, the most relevant global trends at the product category level for the timber industry are:

• Products for the home: such as tables or kitchen items, bedroom furniture, and kitchen furniture.
• Bioenergy production, such as wood pellets.
• Sustainable construction, which has increased the use of laminated wood for larger scale applications.

Costa Rica’s wood production is estimated at 966 thousand cubic meters of wood (in 2016), mostly from forest plantations which contribute 77 percent of the total. The remainder is harvested from agricultural lands (18 percent), and forests (5 percent).

Timber from these sources has followed a decreasing trend over the last decade, with harvests from forest plantations declining 0.8 percent, followed by forests with a 2.6 percent decline, and timber from agricultural lands decreasing by 4 percent, said Procomer.

The sector’s instability is attributed to three main causes. Forested agricultural lands are being converted to other agricultural activities leaving less timber available, plus Costa Rica has seen an increase in wood imports which decreases local demand. Finally, there is a growing demand for wood substitutes in construction (PVC planking for example, and simulated wood doors), and also in household items.

The report pointed to opportunities for the country’s more than 500 species of timber trees including the development of multifunctional, space-maximizing household items; developing timber and wood products with natural finishes; and innovating differentiated products for various age groups and tastes.

The main species harvested in Costa Rica for timber are teak, melina and cypress, which represent 55 percent of all the wood processed by the sector.

Almost half of all local wood production goes to the processing of pallets and packaging for export (47%), that is to say, in low value-added goods, while higher manufacturing activities such as furniture (9%). %) And construction (25%), incorporate a smaller volume of domestic wood.

Costa Rica’s Timber Industry Losing Ground to Substitutes, Must Innovate by Wendy Anders.  Available from <> [Aug 22, 2017]



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