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Timber Demand and Supply in Northwest Vietnam: The Roles of Natural Forests and Planted Trees

Kien, Nguyen Duc, Harwood, Chris
Small-scale forestry 2017 v.16 no.1 pp. 65-82
business enterprises, forests, fuelwood, furniture, households, managers, nationalities and ethnic groups, questionnaires, sawlogs, sawmills, trees, villages, wood processing, Laos, Vietnam
Households and wood processing businesses in the provinces of Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau in the Northwest of Vietnam were surveyed to determine patterns of local wood demand and supply, changes in species utilized over time, and whether timber from planted trees might substitute for species previously harvested from local natural forests. In each province, 5–6 sawmills and 4–6 villages representing 3 main ethnic groups were selected for investigation. Managers of selected sawmills and 3–4 randomly selected households in each village were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. There was high and uniform household demand for fuelwood in the surveyed villages, making fuelwood the dominant use, in terms of wood volume. Use of sawn timber for furniture, home repair and construction consumed less wood but required logs of acceptable species. Sawmills surveyed were small, with input capacity ranging from <15 to 500 m³ of logs per year, suggesting a total log requirement of about 30,000 m³/year for the 192 known wood processing businesses in the three provinces. Most sawmills still used wood from natural forests, sourced locally or imported from Laos. A trend of switching from prized timber species from natural forests, now effectively unavailable, to alternatives from natural and planted forests was reported by both sawmills and households. Some planted species grown on short-medium rotations appear able to substitute for local sawn timber requirements.