UPSWING IN TIMBER MARKETS REINFORCES SAWMILLING INDUSTRY
Demand for sawn timber continues to grow around the world. At the same time, the global supply of sawn timber has increased and the flows of goods have changed substantially. The situation for Finnish sawmills is beginning to normalise after two poor years, and production, which crashed last spring, appears to be recovering. This was the assessment of the Managing Director of the Finnish Sawmills Association, Kai Merivuori, at the Wood from Finland conference that took place on 18 February 2021.
As market-driven operators, Finnish sawmills have managed to adjust reasonably well to the changes in the operating environment. Finland’s competitor countries, however, are investing strongly. In Merivuori’s estimation, it is important for Finland to remain at the forefront of this competition and ensure its competitiveness and investments in terms of logistics, production and raw material supply.
On one hand, Asia’s rising demand for sawn timber and Russia’s growing supply have significantly changed the global flows of goods, and on the other hand, the massive destruction of forests by insects and storms in central Europe and Canada are changing the market. Besides Asia, demand is also growing in Europe: wood buildings are long-term carbon sinks, and sawn timber is seen as a renewable and recyclable material.
The EU’s conflicting targets
The European Union targets carbon neutrality by 2050. This will require substantial cuts to carbon dioxide emissions from all sectors of the economy. As a material that binds and stores carbon, wood plays an important role in achieving these targets. The European Commission’s Renovation Wave initiative aims to decarbonise buildings and increase energy efficiency through the renovation of buildings. In addition, according to Paul Brannen, Director of Public Affairs for the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS), making use of wood-based insulation materials in renovations would substantially increase the carbon storage of the existing building stock.
Besides the positive momentum of environmentally sustainable construction, the completion of new CLT and GLT manufacturing facilities will increase the use of wood in construction in central Europe, estimates Christoph Kulterer, CEO of the Austrian timber company Hasslacher Holding GmbH. However, the additional fellings carried out due to pest damage in central Europe may lead to supply issues already in the mid-2020s. Another threat is possible EU-imposed restrictions on forestry and the use of wood.
Timber construction reinforces the importance of the sawmilling industry
As Finland’s sixth largest export industry and a contributor of nearly 1.7 billion euros in export revenues, the sawmilling industry holds major significance for our national economy, stressed Merivuori. In Finland, too, wood construction appears to be heading in a positive direction. The national targets for wood construction approved by the Finnish Government will increase the share of wood used in public building projects to 45 percent by 2025.
In addition, the assessment of the carbon footprint of buildings that is to be adopted will favour the use of wood as a low-carbon building solution, estimates Anniina Kostilainen, Manager of Public Affairs for the Finnish Sawmills Association. The Finnish Sawmills Association has drawn up an environmental declaration for sawn and planed timber based on the EN 15804 standard, and it will be applied in official carbon footprint assessments.
Wood from Finland is a leading European conference for the sawmilling industry, gathering more than 300 industry professionals. The conference took place for the 19th time, this year as a webinar due to the special circumstances.
Additional information: Kai Merivuori, Managing Director, tel. +358 40 532 2868