It has been suggested that this article be merged with Hardwood timber production and Wood production. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2024.

The wood industry or timber industry (sometimes lumber industry -- when referring mainly to sawed boards) is the industry concerned with forestry, logging, timber trade, and the production of primary forest products and wood products (e.g. furniture) and secondary products like wood pulp for the pulp and paper industry. Some of the largest producers are also among the biggest owners of forest. The wood industry has historically been and continues to be an important sector in many economies.


In the narrow sense of the terms, wood, forest, forestry and timber/lumber industry appear to point to different sectors, in the industrialized, internationalized world, there is a tendency toward huge integrated businesses that cover the complete spectrum from silviculture and forestry in private primary or secondary forests or plantations via the logging process up to wood processing and trading and transport (e.g. timber rafting, forest railways, logging roads).[citation needed]

Processing and products differs especially with regard to the distinction between softwood and hardwood.[1][2][3][4][5] While softwood primarily goes into the production of wood fuel and pulp and paper, hardwood is used mainly for furniture, floors, etc.. Both types can be of use for building and (residential) construction purposes (e.g. log houses, log cabins, timber framing).[citation needed]

Production chain

Lumber and wood products, including timber for framing, plywood, and woodworking, are created in the wood industry from the trunks and branches of trees through several processes, commencing with the selection of appropriate logging sites and concluding with the milling and treatment processes of the harvested material. In order to determine which logging sites and milling sites are responsibly producing environmental, social and economic benefits, they must be certified under the Forests For All Forever (FCS) Certification that ensures these qualities.[6]

Wood is transported by a variety of methods, typically by road vehicle and log driving over shorter distances. For longer journeys, wood is transported by sea on timber carriers, subject to the IMO TDC Code.[7]

Top producers

See also: Category:Forest products companies

As of 2019, the top timberland owners in the US were structured as real-estate investment trusts and include:[8]

In 2008 the largest lumber and wood producers in the US were[9]

As these companies are often publicly traded, their ultimate owners are a diversified group of investors. There are also timber-oriented real-estate investment trusts.

According to sawmilldatabase, the world top producers of sawn wood in 2007 were:[11]

Company Production or Capacity in m3/yr
West Fraser Timber Co Ltd 8460000
Canfor 6900000
Weyerhaeuser 6449000
Stora Enso 4646000
Georgia Pacific 4300000
Resolute Forest Products 3760000
Interfor 3550000
Sierra Pacific Industries 3200000
Hampton Affiliates[12] 3100000
Arauco 2800000
Tolko Industries Ltd 2500000
Pfeifer Group[13] 2200000




Workers within the forestry and logging industry sub-sector fall within the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (AFFH) industry sector as characterized by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).[14] The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has taken a closer look at the AFFH industry's noise exposures and prevalence of hearing loss. While the overall industry sector had a prevalence of hearing loss lower than the overall prevalence of noise-exposed industries (15% v. 19%), workers within forestry and logging exceeded 21%.[15] Thirty-six percent of workers within forest nurseries and gathering of forest products, a sub-sector within forestry and logging, experienced hearing loss, the most of any AFFH sub-sector. Workers within forest nurseries and gathering of forest products are tasked with growing trees for reforestation and gathering products such as rhizomes and barks. Comparatively, non-noise-exposed workers have only a 7% prevalence of hearing loss.[16]

Worker noise exposures in the forestry and logging industry have been found to be up to 102 dBA.[17] NIOSH recommends that a worker have an 8-hour time-weighted average of noise exposure of 85 dBA.[18] Excessive noise puts workers at an increased risk of developing hearing loss. If a worker were to develop a hearing loss as a result of occupational noise exposures, it would be classified as occupational hearing loss. Noise exposures within the forestry and logging industry can be reduced by enclosing engines and heavy equipment, installing mufflers and silencers, and performing routine maintenance on equipment.[17] Noise exposures can also be reduced through the hierarchy of hazard controls where removal or replacement of noisy equipment serves as the best method of noise reduction.[citation needed]


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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has found that fatalities of forestry and logging workers have increased from 2013 to 2016, up from 81 to 106 per year. In 2016, there were 3.6 cases of injury and illness per 100 workers within this industry.[19]

Illegal logging

Stockpile and export of rosewood from illegal logging in Madagascar.

Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase, or sale of timber in violation of laws. The harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including using corrupt means to gain access to forests; extraction without permission, or from a protected area; the cutting down of protected species; or the extraction of timber in excess of agreed limits. Illegal logging is a driving force for a number of environmental issues such as deforestation, soil erosion and biodiversity loss which can drive larger-scale environmental crises such as climate change and other forms of environmental degradation.

Illegality may also occur during transport, such as illegal processing and export (through fraudulent declaration to customs); the avoidance of taxes and other charges, and fraudulent certification.[20] These acts are often referred to as "wood laundering".[21]

Illegal logging is driven by a number of economic forces, such as demand for raw materials, land grabbing and demand for pasture for cattle. Regulation and prevention can happen at both the supply size, with better enforcement of environmental protections, and at the demand side, such as an increasing regulation of trade as part of the international lumber Industry.


The existence of a wood economy, or more broadly, a forest economy (in many countries a bamboo economy predominates), is a prominent matter in many developing countries as well as in many other nations with a temperate climate and especially in those with low temperatures. These are generally the countries with greater forested areas so conditions allow for development of local forestry to harvest wood for local uses. The uses of wood in furniture, buildings, bridges, and as a source of energy are widely known. Additionally, wood from trees and bushes, can be used in a variety of products, such as wood pulp, cellulose in paper, celluloid in early photographic film, cellophane, and rayon (a substitute for silk).[citation needed]

At the end of their normal usage, wood products can be burnt to obtain thermal energy or can be used as a fertilizer. The potential environmental damage that a wood economy could occasion include a reduction of biodiversity due to monoculture forestry (the intensive cultivation of very few trees types); and CO2 emissions. However, forests can aid in the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus limit climate change.[22]

The wood industry relied heavily on hard and at times dangerous manual labor for centuries. Two Swedish workers sawing a trunk in 1905.
A massive log raft headed down the Columbia River in 1902, containing an entire year's worth of logs from one timber camp.

Paper is today the most used wood product.[citation needed]

History of use of wood

The wood economy was the starting point of the civilizations worldwide, since eras preceding the Paleolithic[clarification needed] and the Neolithic. It necessarily preceded ages of metals by many millennia, as the melting of metals was possible only through the discovery of techniques to light fire (usually obtained by the scraping of two very dry wooden rods) and the building of many simple machines and rudimentary tools, as canes, club handles, bows, arrows, lances. One of the most ancient handmade articles ever found is a polished wooden spear tip (Clacton Spear) 250,000 years old (third interglacial period), that was buried under sediments in England, at Clacton-on-Sea.[23][24]

Successive civilizations such as the Egyptians and Sumerians built sophisticated objects of furniture. Many types of furniture in ivory and valuable woods have survived to our time practically intact, because secluded in inviolated secret tombs, they were protected from decay also by the dry environment of desert.[25][better source needed]Many buildings and parts of these (above all roofs) contained elements in wood (often of oak) forming structural supports and covering; means of transport such as boats, ships; and later (with the invention of the wheel) wagons and carriages, winches, flour mills powered by water, etc.[citation needed]

Dimensions and geography

The main source of the lumber used in the world is forests, which can be classified as virgin, semivirgin and plantations. Much timber is removed for firewood by local populations in many countries, especially in the third world, but this amount can only be estimated, with wide margins of uncertainty.[citation needed]

In 1998, the worldwide production of "Roundwood" (officially counted wood not used as firewood), was about 1,500,000,000 cubic metres (2.0×109 cu yd), amounting to around 45% of the wood cultivated in the world. Cut logs and branches destined to become elements for building construction accounted for approximately 55% of the world's industrial wood production. 25% became wood pulp (including wood powder and broccoli) mainly destined for the production of paper and paperboard, and approximately 20% became panels in plywood and valuable wood for furniture and objects of common use (FAO 1998).[26] The World's largest producer and consumer of officially accounted wood are the United States, although the country that possesses the greatest area of forest in Russia.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, the countries with the largest forest area were: Soviet Union (approximately 8,800,000 km2), Brazil (5,150,000 km2), Canada (4,400,000 km2), United States (3,000,000 km2), Indonesia (1,200,000 km2) and Democratic Republic of Congo (1,000,000 km2). Other countries with important production and consumption of wood usually have a low density of population in relation to their territorial extension, here we can include countries as Argentina, Chile, Finland, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine.[citation needed]

By 2001 the rainforest areas of Brazil were reduced by a fifth (respect of 1970), to around 4,000,000 km2; the ground cleared was mainly destined for cattle pasture—Brazil is the world's largest exporter of beef with almost 200,000,000 head of cattle.[27] The booming Brazilian ethanol economy based upon sugar cane cultivation, is likewise reducing forests area. Canadian forest was reduced by almost 30% to 3,101,340 km2 over the same period.[28]

Importance in limiting climate change

See also: Land use, land-use change, and forestry and Deforestation and climate change

Regarding the problem of climate change, it is known that burning forests increase CO2 in the atmosphere, while intact virgin forest or plantations act as sinks for CO2, for these reasons wood economy fights greenhouse effect. The amount of CO2 absorbed depends on the type of trees, lands and the climate of the place where trees naturally grow or are planted. Moreover, by night plants do not photosynthesize, and produce CO2, eliminated the successive day. Paradoxically in summer oxygen created by photosynthesis in forests near to cities and urban parks, interacts with urban air pollution (from cars, etc.) and is transformed by solar beams in ozone (molecule of three oxygen atoms), that while in high atmosphere constitutes a filter against ultraviolet beams, in the low atmosphere is a pollutant, able to provoke respiratory disturbances.[29][30]

In a low-carbon economy, forestry operations will be focused on low-impact practices and regrowth. Forest managers will make sure that they do not disturb soil-based carbon reserves too much. Specialized tree farms will be the main source of material for many products. Quick maturing tree varieties will be grown on short rotations to maximize output.[31]

Production by country

In Australia

In Brazil

Brazil has a long tradition in the harvesting of several types of trees with specific uses. Since the 1960s, imported species of pine tree and eucalyptus have been grown mostly for the plywood and paper pulp industries. Currently high-level research is being conducted, to apply the enzymes of sugar cane fermentation to cellulose in wood, to obtain methanol, but the cost is much higher when compared with ethanol derived from corn costs.[32]

In Canada and the US

There is a close relation in the forestry economy between these countries; they have many tree genera in common, and Canada is the main producer of wood and wooden items destined to the US, the biggest consumer of wood and its byproducts in the world. The water systems of the Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Hudson River and Saint Lawrence Seaway to the east coast and the Mississippi River to the central plains and Louisiana allows transportation of logs at very low costs. On the west coast, the basin of the Columbia River has plenty of forests with excellent timber.[citation needed]


The agency Canada Wood Council calculates that in the year 2005 in Canada, the forest sector employed 930,000 workers (1 job in every 17), making around $108 billion of value in goods and services. For many years products derived from trees in Canadian forests had been the most important export items of the country. In 2011, exports around the world totaled some $64.3 billion – the single largest contributor to Canadian trade balance.[28][34][better source needed]

Canada is the world leader in sustainable forest management practices. Only 120,000,000 hectares (1,200,000 km2; 463,320 sq mi) (28% of Canadian forests) are currently managed for timber production while an estimated 32,000,000 hectares (320,000 km2; 123,550 sq mi) are protected from harvesting by the current legislation.[35][better source needed]

The Canadian timber industry has led to environmental conflict with Indigenous people protecting their land from logging. For example, the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation set up the Grassy Narrows road blockade for twenty years beginning in 2002 to prevent clearcutting of their land.[36][37]

United States

Further information: History of the lumber industry in the United States and Forestry § United_States

Logging in Oregon


Wood obtained from Nigeria's wood industry undergoes processing in various wood processing sectors, including furniture manufacturing, sawmill operations, plywood mills, pulp and paper facilities, and particleboard mills.[45]

In the Caribbean and Central America

In Europe


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The species that are ideal for the many uses in this type of economy are those employed by arboriculture, that are very well known for their features and the need for certain types of ground and climates.


In Fennoscandia and Russia

A sawmill with floating logs in Kotka, Finland

In Sweden, Finland and to an extent Norway, much of the land area is forested, and the pulp and paper industry is one of the most significant industrial sectors. Chemical pulping produces an excess of energy, since the organic matter in black liquor, mostly lignin and hemicellulose breakdown products, is burned in the recovery boiler. Thus, these countries have high proportions of renewable energy use (25% in Finland, for instance). Considerable effort is directed towards increasing the value and usage of forest products by companies and by government projects.[citation needed]


A forest product is any material derived from forestry for direct consumption or commercial use, such as lumber, paper, or fodder for livestock. Wood, by far the dominant product of forests, is used for many purposes, such as wood fuel (e.g. in form of firewood or charcoal) or the finished structural materials used for the construction of buildings, or as a raw material, in the form of wood pulp, that is used in the production of paper. All other non-wood products derived from forest resources, comprising a broad variety of other forest products, are collectively described as non-timber forest products (NTFP).[50][51][52] Non-timber forest products are viewed to have fewer negative effects on forest ecosystem when providing income sources for local community.[53]

Globally, about 1,150,000,000 ha (2.8×109 acres) of forest is managed primarily for the production of wood and non-wood forest products. In addition, 749,000,000 ha (1.85×109 acres) is designated for multiple use, which often includes production.[54]

Worldwide, the area of forest designated primarily for production has been relatively stable since 1990, but the area of multiple-use forest has decreased by about 71,000,000 ha (180,000,000 acres).[54]
Forest Log Piles


Main article: Wood fuel

The burning of wood is currently the largest use of energy derived from a solid fuel biomass. Wood fuel may be available as firewood (e.g. logs, bolts, blocks), charcoal, chips, sheets, pellets and sawdust. Wood fuel can be used for cooking and heating through stoves and fireplaces, and occasionally for fueling steam engines and steam turbines that generate electricity. For many centuries many types of traditional ovens were used to benefit from the heat generated by wood combustion. Now, more efficient and clean solutions have been developed: advanced fireplaces (with heat exchangers), wood-fired ovens, wood-burning stoves and pellet stoves, that are able to filter and separate pollutants (centrifuging ashes with rotative filters), thus eliminating many emissions, also allowing to recover a higher quantity of heat that escaped with the chimney fumes.[citation needed]

Mean energy density of wood, was calculated at around 6–17 Megajoule/Kilogram, depending on species and moisture content.[citation needed]

Combustion of wood is, however, linked to the production of micro-environmental pollutants, as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) (an invisible gas able to provoke irreversible saturation of blood's hemoglobine), as well as nanoparticles.[55]

In Italy poplar has been proposed as a tree cultivated to be transformed into biofuels, because of the excellent ratio of energy extracted from its wood because of poplar's fast growing and capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide to the small amount of energy needed to cultivate, cut and transport the trees. Populus x canadensis 'I-214', grows so fast that is able to reach 14 inches (36 cm) in diameter and heights of 100 feet (30 m) in ten years.[citation needed]


Main article: Charcoal

Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. Charcoal can then be used as a fuel with a higher combustion temperature.[citation needed]

Wood gasogen

Wood gas generator (gasogen): is a bulky and heavy device (but technically simple) that transforms burning wood in a mix of molecular hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), molecular nitrogen (N2) and water vapor (H2O). This gas mixture, known as "wood gas", "poor gas" or "syngas" is obtained after the combustion of dry wood in a reductive environment (low in oxygen) with a limited amount of atmospheric air, at temperatures of 900 °C, and can fuel an internal combustion engine.[56]

A car built in the 1940s by Ilario Bandini, with a wood gas generator device.

In the time between World War I and World War II included, because of the lack of oil, in many countries, like Italy, France, Great Britain and Sweden, several gasoline-powered cars were modified, with the addition of a wood gas generator (a "gasogen"), a device powered by wood, coal, or burnable waste, able to produce (and purify) gas that immediately, in the same vehicle, could power a slightly modified ICE engine of a standard car (low-compression engine). Carburetor had to be changed with an air-gas mixer). There were several setbacks, as the great reduction of maximum speed and the need to drive using low gears and wisely dosing the amount of air. In modern cars, modified with a wood gas generator, gas emissions (CO, CO2 and NOx) are lower to those of the same vehicle running with gasoline (keeping the same catalytic converter).[citation needed]


Main article: Methanol economy

Methanol (the simplest alcohol) behaves as a liquid at 25 °C, is toxic and corrosive, and in organic chemistry basic books is often called "the spirit of wood", since it can be obtained from wood fermentation. Rarely, when unwise wine-makers mix small chunks of wood and leaves with grapes, methanol can be found as a pollutant of the blend of water, ethanol and other substances derived from grape's fermentation.[citation needed]

The best way to obtain methanol from wood is through syngas (CO, CO2, H2) produced by the anhydrous pyrolysis of wood, a method discovered by ancient Egyptians.[citation needed]

Methanol can be used as an oxygen-rich additive for gasoline. However, it is usually much cheaper to produce methanol from methane or from syngas. Methanol is the most important base material for industrial chemistry, where it is often used to make more complex molecules through reactions of halogenation and chemical addition reaction.[citation needed]

Gas turbine


The American M1 Abrams main battle tank is powered by a gas turbine of 1,500 hp (1,100 kW),[57] that it is able to function also with a mix at 50% of wood powder and biodiesel, diesel fuel or kerosene. Its advantages over turbo-diesel engine, are the small size and light weight, the lack of a radiator (which gives an advantage against the effect of gun and cannon shots and missile strikes suffered in battle). A setback is the high fuel consumption, since the turbine engine has not the ability to work at a low revolutions per minute rate, much lower than ideal, and during the march this engine consumes twice as much fuel as a modern turbo-diesel engine with intercooler and direct injection.[citation needed]


Main article: Lumber

Wood is relatively light in weight, because its specific weight is less than 500 kg/m3, this is an advantage, when compared against 2,000–2,500 kg/m3 for reinforced concrete or 7,800 kg/m3 for steel.[citation needed]

Wood is strong, because the efficiency of wood for structural purposes has qualities that are similar to steel.[citation needed]

Material E/f
Concrete (Rck300, fck 25 M-Pascal) 1250
Structural steel Fe430 (ft = 430 MPa) 480
Glued laminated timber (BS 11 ÷ BS 18) 470
Aluminium (alloy 7020, ft 355 MPa) 200

Bridges, levees, microhydro, piers

Wood is used to build bridges (as the Magere bridge in Amsterdam), as well as water and air mills, and microhydro generators for electricity.[citation needed]


Hardwood is used as a material in wooden houses, and other structures with a broad range of dimensions. In traditional homes wood is preferred for ceilings, doors, floorings and windows. Wooden frames were traditionally used for home ceilings, but they risk collapse during fires.[citation needed]

The development of energy efficient houses including the "passive house" has revamped the importance of wood in construction, because wood provides acoustic and thermal insulation, with much better results than concrete.[citation needed]

Earthquake resistant buildings

In Japan, ancient buildings, of relatively high elevation, like pagodas, historically had shown to be able to resist earthquakes of high intensity, thanks to the traditional building techniques, employing elastic joints, and to the excellent ability of wooden frames to elastically deform and absorb severe accelerations and compressive shocks.[citation needed]

In 2006, Italian scientists from CNR patented[58] a building system that they called "SOFIE",[59] a seven-storey wooden building, 24 meters high, built by the "Istituto per la valorizzazione del legno e delle specie arboree" (Ivalsa) of San Michele all'Adige. In 2007 it was tested with the hardest Japanese antiseismic test for civil structures: the simulation of Kobe's earthquake (7.2 Richter scale), with the building placed over an enormous oscillating platform belonging to the NIED-Institute, located in Tsukuba science park, near the city of Miki in Japan. This Italian project, employed very thin and flexible panels in glued laminated timber, and according to CNR researchers could lead to the construction of much more safe houses in seismic areas.[60]


One of the most enduring materials is the lumber from virginian southern live oak and white oak, specially live oak is 60% stronger than white oak and more resistant to moisture. As an example, the main component in the structure of battle ship USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat (launched in 1797) is white oak.[61]


Woodworking is the activity or skill of making items from wood, and includes cabinet making (cabinetry and furniture), wood carving, joinery, carpentry, and woodturning. Millions of people make a livelihood on woodworking projects.[citation needed]

See also

Notes and references

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  2. ^ Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada (3 November 2008). "Softwood Lumber". GAC.
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  4. ^ "Softwood Lumber, Binational Softwood Lumber Council".
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  6. ^ "FCS". Forests For All Forever.
  7. ^ Carefully to Carry. Witherby Publishing Group. 2022. p. 131-158. ISBN 9781914993121.
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  13. ^ "Pfeifer Group • Holzverarbeitung • Export in 90 Länder".
  14. ^ ESMD, US Census Bureau Classification Development Branch. "US Census Bureau Site North American Industry Classification System main page". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
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  25. ^ "History of Egyptian Furniture". 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  26. ^ FAO 1998 Archived 24 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Brazil seizes cattle illegally grazing on Amazon forest lands". Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Canadian Forests – Quick Facts". Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  29. ^ "Air quality levels in Europe — European Environment Agency".
  30. ^ " – The Effects of Ozone Pollution". Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  31. ^ Trees and their role in carbon management for land and business Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Woodland Trust.
  32. ^ "Brazzil Mag – Trying to understand Brazil since 1989". Archived from the original on 22 August 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  33. ^ "Harvesting wood in Brazil". Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  34. ^ "Wood-Works – Program of the Canadian Wood Council". Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  35. ^ "Canadian Forests Website – Home Page".
  36. ^ Turner, Logan (2023). "Grassy Narrows marks 20 years of the blockade protecting its land from logging". CBC.
  37. ^ "Resistance recognized: Grassy Narrows' blockade wins award". CBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  38. ^ "Classic American Furniture for the Home and Office from Green Design Furniture".
  39. ^ A History of the Vegetable Kingdom – Page 334
  40. ^ Cherry Production National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Retrieved on 19 August 2008.
  41. ^ "Cedarwood Oils".
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  45. ^ Mijinyawa, Yahaya; Bello, S.R (2011). "Assessment of Injuries in Small Scale Sawmill Industry of South Western Nigeria". Agricultural Engineering International: The CIGR Journal of Scientific Research and Development: 157 – via ResearchGate.
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  47. ^ Fonte:,1,29,37,417,1042
  48. ^ Karade SR. 2003. An Investigation of Cork Cement Composites. PhD Thesis. BCUC. Brunel University, UK.
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  52. ^ Belcher, Brian; Schreckenberg, Kathrin (2007). "Commercialisation of Non-timber Forest Products: A Reality Check" (PDF). Development Policy Review. 25 (3): 355–377. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7679.2007.00374.x. ISSN 1467-7679. S2CID 154953328. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 January 2022. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
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See also