Timber industry: combining biodiversity conservation and growth


One of the purposes of logging is the production and processing of timber for construction or furniture. It is one of the sectors that contributes heavily to the erosion of biodiversity. This is why sustainable logging is essential for the preservation of the cultural, social and ecological functions provided by forests (wood supply, soil stabilisation, carbon storage, hunting, etc.).

Logging for timber production includes all practices that produce wood for construction or furniture. 6 BIODEV2030 countries have selected forest exploitation as a priority economic sector which contributes to the country’s loss of biodiversity and also to its development. Three have specifically chosen the timber industry le Benin, Guinea and Vietnam.


Globally, logging produces over 5,000 different products. It also generates a gross added value of more than 600 billion dollars per year. In Guinea, the sector contributes more than 15% to the country’s GDP. However, the economic contribution of forests is actually greater, as this sector is mostly informal.

Economic development, population growth and urbanisation are accompanied by an increasing demand for forest products. This demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades. In Vietnam, the value of wood product exports is expected to grow by 70% between 2021 and 2030. In Benin, the total demand for wood for the national and international market is higher than the country’s forestry potential.

In recent years, the forestry sector has begun to change its practices, notably through sustainable forest management certifications. The operational, reputational, marketing, legal and financial risks are driving these changes in practices. These sustainable practices can, in particular, increase the benefits in the value chain thanks to a valuation with buyers.

13.2 million

jobs generated by logging worldwide

Source: World Bank. Forests, a source of employment and income [online]. Available at: https://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/topic/forests/brief/forests-generate-jobs-and-incomes (accessed on 15 July 2022)


The timber industry exerts pressures on ecosystems along the value chain. These pressures can be more or less significant depending on the management methods used. During tree planting, the use of fertilisers, pesticides and vegetation treatment methods (burning, clearing) contribute to the erosion of biodiversity. Mono-specific crops (only one tree species) strongly reduce biodiversity. The choice of tree species and their association is thus crucial to preserving forest biodiversity.

Poor maintenance of plantations, harvesting methods (non-selective cutting, close rotations) and illegal cutting can lead to gaps in the forest. This gives grasses more room to establish and increases the frequency of fire outbreaks. Furthermore, loading and transporting trees to processing plants requires road infrastructure that fragments habitats.

Finally, wood residues (sawdust and copings) are not always recovered by processing companies. Releasing a lot of them into the environment affects the living environment of plants and animals. It can also cause fires.

The timber industry has negative impacts on biodiversity due to:

  1. The tree species planted: the choice of tree species planted and their felling should not be guided solely by economic prospects; the preservation of the biological diversity of the forest must also be taken into account.

Forest management methods: logging must be organised to avoid land degradation. Development and sustainable management plans must be put in place.

Lines of action:

  • Define simplified forest development and management plans that take into account the challenges of preserving biodiversity
  • Choose forest tree varieties by prioritising the development of indigenous varieties
  • Ensure compliance with forestry legislation by all players in the industry
  • Significantly increase the share of wood certified to sustainability standards

Sources :

  • OCDE (2009), « La forêt au service d’une croissance pro-pauvres », dans Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth : The Economics and Politics, Éditions OCDE, Paris.
  • World Bank. 2020. Note sur les forêts du Bénin. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34437 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
  • Banque Mondiale. Les forêts, une source d’emplois et de revenus [online]. Available at: https://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/topic/forests/brief/forests-generate-jobs-and-incomes (accessed on 15/07/2022)