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Department of Plant Sciences

Aerial view of a forest fire in Colorado, USA

Fire consumes timber forests at unprecedented rate, threatens supply

New research by Chris Bousfield and David Edwards in the Department of Plant Sciences, with David Lindenmayer in the Fenner School of Enviornment and Society at Australian National University, quantifies for the first time the severe destruction that fire causes to timber-producing forests, and highlights the likely effects on timber and paper supply over the next decades.

A third of forests globally are used for timber production, and demand for timber is predicted to almost triple in the next 25 years. Climate change is a driver of forest fires.

The team found an increasing trend in annual wildfire-induced loss of timber-producing forest across all regions globally except in Eurasia – since 2001, between 185, 000 and 247,000 sq km of timber-producing forest has been lost due to wildfires, which is between 1.0% and 1.7% of global forestry land and represents a loss of 393–667 million tonnes of timber, worth between $45 and $77 bn dollars based on a price of US$115 per m3.  

Read the article in The Conversation

Read the paper:

Bousfield, C.G., Lindenmayer, D.B., Edwards, D.P. 2023. Substantial and increasing global losses of timber-producing forest due to wildfires. Nature Geoscience.


[Header image by Capt Darin Overstreet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons -