Rome: Natural teak forests are declining worldwide and the quality of natural grown teak wood is deteriorating, said the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Natural teak forests declined by 385,000 hectares globally between 1992 and 2010, said the new global Teak Resources and Market Assessment conducted in 60 tropical countries by FAO.

The survey on Monday said natural teak forests grow in only four countries in the world: India, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. In 2010 their combined area of natural teak forest was estimated at about 29 million hectares, almost half of which growing in Myanmar, as reported.

Myanmar is the only country that currently produces quality teak from natural forests, while India, Laos and Thailand have bans on logging in natural forests or on log exports in place.

In Thailand, a complete ban on logging in natural forests introduced in 1989 may have contributed to the recovery of natural teak forests, which are reported to have increased by 2.9 million hectares, according to FAO's report.

Meanwhile, planted teak forests are increasing in area and producing high quality wood when good management practices are applied, said the report.

As one of the most important and valuable hardwoods in the world, planted teak forests have attracted large private sector investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a result, the planted teak area has increased in these regions.

"Although the time until trees reach harvestable dimensions is comparatively long and on average takes between 20 and 80 years, teak planting serves local communities as a savings account and in the long run helps smallholders improve their livelihoods," Walter Kollert, FAO forestry officer, was quoted as saying in the report.

Kollert believed that in future the sustained production of teak logs from natural forests would be further limited due to continuing deforestation and competition for environmental services.

"Supply trend points to a continuing decline in the volume and quality of natural teak, which results in progressive loss of genetic resources. This is why it is essential in the near future to plan, organize and implement a program for the genetic conservation of natural teak resources,"he said.

According to the report, Asia holds more than 90 percent of the world's teak resources, and India alone manages 38 percent of the world's planted teak forests. The major teak trade flows worldwide are directed towards India, while its own considerable teak production is processed within the country.