Softwood is the source of about 80% of the world's production of timber, with traditional centers of production being the Baltic region (including Scandinavia and Russia) and North America. The term softwood is used as opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees. Softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods. In both groups there is an enormous variation in actual wood hardness, with the range in density in hardwoods completely including that of softwoods; some hardwoods (e.g. balsa) are softer than most softwoods, while the hardest hardwoods are much harder than any softwood; this is not surprising as there are about a hundred times as many hardwoods as there are softwoods. The woods of longleaf pine, douglas fir, and yew are much harder in the mechanical sense than several hardwoods.
In general softwood is easy to work: it forms the bulk of wood used by humans.
- Prime material for structural building components.
- Raw material as pulp in the production of paper and paperboard
- The finer softwoods find many speciality uses.
- Main article: United States – Canada softwood lumber dispute
A trade dispute over softwood lumber has been ongoing between Canada and the United States.
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