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Engineered wood products: The future is bright

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It is now commonly accepted that Federal and other public forests will never again provide a major portion of the wood products needed and consumed in the U.S. economy. There is continued debate over how much public timber should be sold, whether salvage logging should be permitted, and whether commercial use of the forest ranks with, above, or below recreational use or simply no use at all. But it is clear that no one expects a return to the period when public forests supplied a quarter or more of domestic lumber production and a similar percentage of softwood plywood.

The closing of the Federal forests by fiat or litigation has resulted in a parallel closing of literally scores of mills and, during the period of high housing demand, sharply rising prices for basic lumber and panel products. That we have not run out of wood building materials or seen prices rise to unendurable levels may be attributed to a number of factors.

* Significant imports of lumber from Canada (harvesting restrictions have recently been implemented in Canada so those supplies will be less available);

* A surge in private timber harvesting from small holdings throughout the Pacific Northwest, as owners hurry to cut trees to obtain current high prices and before they are precluded from doing so;

* A peaking and decline in wood products demand as rising interest levels have throttled down the pace of construction;

* The replacement of lost large and wide lumber production, and softwood plywood production, by engineered wood products.

The purpose of this paper is to make market forecasts for key engineered wood products through the next decade and to provide a rationale for these forecasts based on an understanding of the performance attributes of the products.

The definition of engineered wood products is...