Charcoal is an economic activity of increasing importance in many developing countries, and one which is expected to increase significantly in the future. In Brazil, industrial charcoal has been produced for four centuries, although it did not reach maturity until the 1960s. Charcoal production peaked in 1989 when some 44.8 million m3 were produced, compared to 26 million m3 in 1996. Historically the bulk of charcoal has been produced from native forests, but for the past two decades there has been a gradual phasing out in favour of plantations, e.g. in the late 1970s about 90 per cent of the charcoal originated from native forests compared to 30 per cent in 1996, while the rest came from plantations. Charcoal is used in Brazil mainly as a reductor and thermal agent in industrial applications, e.g. pig-iron, steel, cement, etc.