• Non-ICIMOD Publication
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Transfer of Virtual Water of Woody Forest Products from China

  • Luo, K.
  • Tao, F.
  • Moiwo, J.
Global freshwater resources are under increasing pressure. It is reported that international trade of water-intensive products (the so-called virtual water trade) can be used to ease global water pressure. In spite of the significant amount of international trade of woody forest products, virtual water of woody forest products (VWWFP) and the corresponding international trade are largely ignored. However, virtual water research has progressed steadily. This study maps VWWFP and statistically analyzes China’s official data for the period 1993–2014. The results show a rapid increase in the trend of VWWFP flow from China, reaching 7.61 × 1012 m3 or 3.48 times annual virtual water trade for agricultural products. The export and import volumes of China are respectively 1.27 × 1012 m3 and 6.34 × 1012 m3 for 1993–2014. China imported a total of 5.07 × 1012 m3 of VWWFP in 1993–2014 to lessen domestic water pressure, which is five times the annual water transfer via China’s South–North Water Transfer project. Asia and Europe account for the highest contribution (50.52%) to China’s import. Other contributors include the Russian Federation (16.63%), Indonesia (13.45%), Canada (13.41%), the United States of America (9.60%), Brazil (7.23%) and Malaysia (6.33%). China mainly exports VWWFP to Asia (47.68%), North America (23.24%), and Europe (20.01%). The countries which export the highest amount of VWWFP include the United States of America, Japan, Republic of Korea and Canada. Then the countries which import the highest amount of VWWFP include the Russian Federation, Canada, United States of America, and Brazil. The VWWFP flow study shows an obvious geographical distribution that is driven by proximity and traffic since transportation cost of woody forest products could be significant.