According to Dietrich Brandis, the renowned Germain forester, “Teak holds the place which diamond maintains among precious stones and gold among metals”. Teakwood is thus, a benchmark used as a comparison with other tropical hardwoods in terms of quality and utilisation potential. Teak is grown in at least 36 tropical countries. According to FAO, of the estimated 187.1 million hectares of global forest plantations in 2000, 5.7 million hectares, or 3% were teak. However, teak constitutes about 75% of the world’s high-quality tropical hardwood plantations. Teak is a multipurpose tree for agroforestry in many parts of Asia, Africa and tropical America.
The Global Demand
Teak remains in high demand and is particularly popular in the emerging economies of China and India. In 2009 according to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) India imported 87,290 m3 of sawn wood and China imported over 7 million m3. The ITTO also reported in 2003 that the supply of hardwood timber from natural tropical forests exceeded 100 million m3 per year.
In terms of supply, more than 95% of the world‘s teak comes from non-sustainable tropical sources. Since the concerted effort to eradicate illegal logging of tropical forests, supply of teak has fallen dramatically. Consequently, the demand for ethically sourced teak has grown and it is forecast to continue to grow over the medium to long-term period.