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    Author(s): P. J. Ince
    Date: 2004
    Source: Encyclopedia of forest sciences : volume two. Oxford : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 877-883.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (161 KB)


    In economics, primary inputs or factors of production define the term ‘resources.’ Resources include land resources (plants, animals, and minerals), labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. Almost all pulp and paper fiber resources are plant materials obtained from trees or agricultural crops. These resources encompass plant materials harvested directly from the land (wood, straw, bamboo, etc.), plant material byproducts or residuals from other manufacturing processes (wood chips from sawmills, bagasse fiber from sugarcane processing, cotton linter, etc.), and fibers recovered from recycled paper or paperboard. Some relatively expensive nonplant fibers derived from mineral resources are also used in papermaking (e.g., synthetic plastic fibers) but very small quantities and only in some specialized paper or paperboard products. Resources derive value from their utility in producing goods or services, but utility varies among different fiber resources and utility varies as technology and product demands shift over time. Different plant fibers have different physical properties that influence their utility in pulping and papermaking. Utility of industrial resources also depends on profitability, or availability of resources at competitive market prices. Market demands for fiber products and supplies of fiber resources vary over time, and thus the market value and utility of fiber resources are variable over time. Some resources have competing multiple uses and alternative values in society. Forest resources have value in producing a range of different wood products, not just pulp and paper products. Forest resources also have alternative values in society because they produce other important services such as recreational, spiritual, environmental, or aesthetic services. For example, selected species of trees grown in monoculture (single-species) plantations may have high intrinsic value in pulping or papermaking because of uniformity in fiber quality or desirable fiber characteristics, but cultivating trees in plantations can be more expensive than relying on natural regeneration of trees in a forest. The typically more heterogeneous mixture of tree species found in a naturally regenerated forest may have less intrinsic value in pulping or papermaking because of less uniformity or less desirable fiber characteristics, but may have utility in any case because of lower cost. However, a natural forest will likely have high value to society in terms of ecological or aesthetic amenities. Also, advances in plantation systems or biotechnology can yield faster-growing trees or more desirable trees for pulping, which can affect the market value of fiber resources. The actual market values of wood and fiber resources are determined by shifting patterns of resource abundance and overall demand. This article describes various categories of fiber resources used for pulp and paper products, factors influencing their utility and relative market values, and trends in fiber resource supply and demand.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Ince, P. J. 2004. Fiber resources. Encyclopedia of forest sciences : volume two. Oxford : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 877-883.


    Wood fibers, pulping, fiber resources

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