PORTLAND, OR -- Following four straight years of record consumption, demand for lumber declined 6% in 2006 and is forecast to fall another 7.5% to 55.97 billion board feet this year, according to a new forecast issued by Western Wood Products Assn. (WWPA). Looking to 2008, WWPA predicts overall demand will slip 1.8% before rebounding the following year.

A slower American economy, marked by declines in mortgage banking, real estate and construction, continues to impact lumber markets. These developments have reduced home construction, with housing starts falling almost 13% in 2006. WWPA is forecasting another decline in housing for this year, with starts expected to decrease 16% to 1.5 million, before rising modestly to 1.56 million in 2008.

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