UBC Undergraduate Research

How the Japanese lumber and timber market is influenced by Japanese natural disasters Lin, Leonard


In the past few decades, numerous calamities have hit the coast of Japan and devastated cities around the nation. As communities rebuild their foundations, infrastructure needs to be reestablished. Houses and schools need to be rebuilt. This creates an opportunity for housing starts and other development, and subsequently, a demand for construction-ready materials. This demand would open the door to an increase in timber and lumber imports from foreign markets, such as Canada, the United States and Russia. In this essay, I focused on the years preceding and following the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, and looked for any possible trends in the timber and lumber markets within that timeframe. By comparing my findings for those years, and cross-referencing them with trends in non-event years, I did find a correlation between spikes in demand, import levels and disaster events. I believe that by studying past time periods, and the market flows and disaster events during those years, we are able to make educated predictions and better respond to shifts in demand. Through the writing of this paper, I have achieved a deeper appreciation of how global timber and lumber markets function, and how they are affected by events happening at the global level. Furthermore, I now understand how much housing starts influence the timber and lumber market, and the fluctuations that occur from year to year.

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