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September 25, 2019

Germany: Sawmills’ profits booming, as forests are ravaged by insects and drought

Germany: Sawmills’ profits booming, as forests are ravaged by insects and drought

Sales of German sawmills, planing mills and wood impregnators have increased nominally by around 33% over the past ten years. Revenues reached 6.4 billion euros in 2018 as compared to 4.8 billion euros in 2008. In the exceptionally dry and warm year of 2018, industry sales increased by 8% year-on-year, exceeding the 6 billion euro mark for the first time. 

The industry relies on local wood, but also on imports of raw materials. Exports represent just under one third of the overall sales (or 2 billion euros). The number of companies decreased from 435 to 324 between 2008 and 2018.

2018 large logging volumes of softwood from heat-damaged forests

The German forests suffered in 2018 from water scarcity and heat. The proportion of trees with clear crowns increased to 29% (2017: 23%). Softwood trees such as spruce and pine are especially prone to drought and become more susceptible to pests such as the bark beetle. According to the logging statistics of the German Federal Statistical Office, a total of 65 million cubic meters of wood were felled in 2018. In particular, wood from spruce and other conifers such as firs and Douglas firs (39 million cubic meters) as well as pine and larch wood (12 million cubic meters) were extracted intensively from the forest.

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