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Throughout history, economies and civilizations have grown and developed through the exploitation of natural resources. Key among these are forest resources. Forests and the wood they provide have been and still are the dominant source of fuel and shelter for much of the world, and a keystone in many economies.

Historically, the wood products industry in North America has been self-reliant with respect to wood supplies and dominant in local markets. Today, however, a number of global trends are causing significant change in the forest sector and in wood products markets both within North America and globally. These trends and associated changes in the forest sector are likely to exert a strong influence on the forest certification movement.

It appears that a shift in forest-related industrial activity is underway, from regions long characterized by robust wood products industries, to regions with no history of significant forest products production. Coincidentally, wood-based industrial activity is shifting to areas where certification is virtually non-existent today, with the exception of fast-growing forest plantations, a reality that could stall or marginalize the forest certification movement.

Several strategies that could help to avoid or counter the likely negative impact of current global trends on forest certification include: refocusing of certification programs on forests of southeast Asia, the southern hemisphere, Russia and Eastern Europe; redoubling efforts to develop a sizeable market for certified products within North America; and mounting a proactive and strategic response to global plantation development.

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