Wood products - production and trade
Data extracted in December 2020.
Planned article update: December 2021.
The production of roundwood in the EU-27 continues to increase – in 2019 it was 24% higher than in 2000.
23% of the EU-27’s roundwood production in 2019 was used as fuelwood; the rest was used for sawnwood and veneers, pulp and paper production.
In 2018, about 397 000 enterprises were active in wood-based industries across the EU, representing 20% of EU manufacturing enterprises.
This article is part of a set of statistical articles that the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics" is based on. It presents statistics on production and trade in wood products in the European Union (EU).
The EU accounts for approximately 5 % of the world’s forests and, contrary to what is happening in many other parts of the world, the forested area of the EU is slowly increasing. Apart from the forests' ecological value, their role as an essential element in European landscape and their importance for some non-economic uses, such as recreation, forests are also an economic resource. This article presents indicators on the volume of roundwood and sawnwood production as well as on the performance and employment of the EU's wood-based industries. The last part of the article covers figures on international trade in timber and, in particular, tropical wood.
Primary wood products
The total roundwood production in the EU continues to increase. In 2019, it reached an estimated 500 million m3; i.e. almost 47 million m3 (10 %) more than the peak output recorded in 2007, when the industry had to process greater numbers of trees that were felled by severe storms, and 24 % more than at the beginning of the millennium. With the exception of four Member States where roundwood production decreased or remained stable and further three Member States where lack of latest data does not allow the trend to be evaluated all EU-27 countries recorded an increase in roundwood production in the period of 2000–2019. The largest relative increase in the amount of harvested wood took place in the Netherlands (ca 170 %) and Czechia (126 %). In 2019, Germany was the largest producer of roundwood in EU-27 (76 million m3), followed by Sweden, Finland and France (each producing between ca 50 and 75 million m3) (Table 1 and Figure 1).
Wood has been increasingly used as a source of renewable energy. Almost a quarter (23 %) of the EU-27’s roundwood production in 2019 was used as fuelwood, while the remainder was industrial roundwood used for sawnwood and veneers, or for pulp and paper production. This represents an increase of 6 percentage points compared to 2000, when fuelwood accounted for 17 % of the total roundwood production. In some Member States, specifically Cyprus, the Netherlands and Italy, fuelwood represented the majority of roundwood production (more than 60 %) in 2019. On the other hand, Ireland, Slovakia and Sweden reported that over 90 % of their total roundwood production was industrial roundwood (Table 1). While the share of fuelwood in roundwood production differs across EU-27 countries, most Member States reported its increase since 2000. The largest increase was recorded for the Netherlands (58 %) and Cyprus (52 %) as shown in Figure 2.
Traditionally, the output of roundwood in the EU has been dominated by coniferous trees. In 2019, coniferous trees accounted for 69 % of all roundwood harvested in the forests of EU-27 countries which is the same relative proportion as in year 2000 and, overall, this share has remained stable throughout 2000–2019 (Figure 3).
The total output of sawnwood across the EU-27 increased by approximately 12 % from 2000 to 2019, reaching 108 million m3 in 2019. Germany and Sweden were the EU’s leading sawnwood producers in 2019, accounting for approximately 23 % and 17 % of the EU-27 total sawnwood output, respectively (Figure 4).
The EU’s wood-based industries cover a range of downstream activities, including woodworking industries, large parts of the furniture industry, pulp and paper manufacturing and converting industries, and the printing industry. Together, some 397 000 enterprises were active in wood-based industries across the EU-27 in 2018; they represented one in five (19.6 %) manufacturing enterprises across the EU-27, highlighting that - with the exception of pulp and paper manufacturing that is characterized by economies of scale - many wood-based industries had a relatively high number of small or medium-sized enterprises.
The economic importance of an industry can be measured by the share of its gross value added (GVA) in the economy. In 2018, the GVA of wood-based industries in the EU-27 was EUR 139 billion or 7.1 % of the total manufacturing industry. The distribution of GVA across each of the four wood-based activities in 2018 is presented in Table 2. Within the EU-27’s wood-based industries, the largest GVA was recorded for pulp, paper and paper products manufacturing (35 % or EUR 48 billion). With regard to the other three sectors, printing and service activities related to printing amounted to 18 % of the GVA of wood based industries, while the manufacture of furniture and manufacturing of wood and wood products each made up between 22 % and 25 %.
The wood-based industries employed 3.1 million persons across the EU-27 in 2018 or 10.3 % of the manufacturing total. There were more than 900 000 persons employed within both the manufacture of wood and wood products and the manufacture of furniture, whereas an employment of 590 000 persons was recorded for printing and service activities related to printing, representing the lowest employment of the four activities.
A longer time series and more recent data are available for employment for three of the four wood-based industries. Across the EU-27, manufacturing employment fell by 9 % between 2000 and 2019, while the largest losses among the three wood-based industries shown in Figure 5 were recorded for furniture manufacturing (26 % fewer persons employed). Pulp, paper and paper products was less affected (17 % reduction in employment during the 2000–2019 period), while employment in manufacturing of wood products dropped by 25 % between 2000 and 2019. In comparison, the forestry and logging industry had a decrease in employment of about 2 % from 2000 to 2018.
Tropical wood imports to the EU
The EU has agreed a voluntary scheme titled the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan to fight illegal logging and associated trade. One key element of the plan is to ensure that only legally harvested timber is imported to the EU. The EU's legal framework for the scheme is Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community’ and a 2008 Regulation (EC) No 1024/2008 laying down detailed measures for the introduction of the scheme.
Bilateral FLEGT agreements between the EU and various tropical wood producing nations are designed to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU. Agreements have been concluded or are being negotiated with fifteen tropical countries that have signed or are in the process of signing voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Congo (Republic of the Congo), Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Table 3 (and Figure 7) shows the value of all wood imports to the EU-27 from the 14 FLEGT-VPA countries, while Table 4 (and Figure 6) shows the value of imports of wood specified as tropical. Both tables also show the respective total imports to the EU-27 from all countries of the world.
Table 3 shows the potential value of all legal timber that could enter the EU from its partners with bilateral FLEGT agreements. The value of these imports reached a peak of EUR 2.4 billion in 2007, before falling by 9.5 % in 2008 and by another 33.6 % in 2009 (see Figure 7). This shows how hard the global financial and economic crisis of 2008–2009 hit these high-value imports. There was a modest recovery in 2010, but a further decline between 2011 and 2014 but again a moderate increase in 2015 and 2016. In 2018, EU-27’s wood imports from these countries remained at the 2017 level and totalled EUR 896.5 million.
Table 4 and Figure 6 show that a range of 70 % to 83 % of the EU-27’s tropical wood imports (in value terms) came from the 14 FLEGT-VPA countries between 2000 and 2018. The main exporters in 2018 were Cameroon (31.3 % of the total), followed by Malaysia (21.4 %) and Indonesia (14.7 %).
Figures 8, 9 and 10 show the wood products imported to the EU-27 from China, the FLEGT countries and from the rest of the world (i.e. countries other than China, FLEGT countries and other tropical countries that are members of ITTO, the International Tropical Timber Organisation) between 2000 and 2019. The most important wood products imported from China are wooden furniture (Chapter 94 of the Combined Nomenclature) and other wood products (Chapter 44), as shown in Figure 8. For FLEGT countries, sawnwood and wooden furniture are the two most important wood products exported to the EU-27 (Figure 9). Figure 10 shows that the EU-27's main imports from the rest of the world are other wood products followed by sawnwood and wooden furniture.
Source data for tables and graphs
Eurostat, the Timber Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Forestry Section of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) collect and collate statistics on the production and trade of wood through their Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire. Each partner collects data from a different part of the world; Eurostat is responsible for the data collection exercise pertaining to the EU Member States and EFTA countries.
Eurostat produces annual data on forestry using two questionnaires:
- The Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ) on production and trade in wood and wood products;
- European Forest Accounts (EFA), forming part of the environmental satellite accounts initiative that started in the late 1990s.
The JFSQ provides data for supply balances of timber used for wood products and for energy, and for estimating the carbon contained in harvested wood products.)
A broad array of EU policies and initiatives has a bearing on forests. For several decades, environmental forest functions have attracted increasing attention — for example, in relation to the protection of biodiversity and, more recently, in the context of climate change impacts and energy policies. Apart from the traditional production of wood and other forest-based products, forests are increasingly valued for their environmental role and as a public amenity. The EU promotes sustainable forest management, aiming to
- create and preserve jobs and otherwise contribute to rural livelihoods;
- protect the environment by preserving the soil, minimising erosion, purifying water, protecting aquifers, improving air quality, absorbing carbon, mitigating climate change, and preserving biodiversity;
- monitor the state of forests to meet environmental agreements;
- improve the competitiveness of forest-based industries in the internal market;
- promote the use of wood and other forest products as environmentally friendly products;
- reduce poverty in developing countries by furthering forest law enforcement, fair trade conditions and halting deforestation and illegal logging.
The European Community and its Member States have been members of the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) since 1994. A new ITTA was concluded in 2006 and signed by the European Community, see 2007/648/EC: Council Decision of 26 September 2007. Annex 1 is a list of ITTA's members that produce tropical wood, comprising both FLEGT and non-FLEGT countries. Annex 2 is a list of ITTA's members that are consumers of tropical wood. All EU-28 Member States are presently members of ITTA. Article 27 on statistics, studies and information states:
- 1. The Council shall authorize the Executive Director to establish and maintain close relationships with relevant intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations in order to help ensure the availability of recent and reliable data and information, including on production and trade in tropical timber, trends and data discrepancies, as well as relevant information on non-tropical timber and on the management of timber producing forests. As deemed necessary for the operation of this Agreement, the Organization, in cooperation with such organizations, shall compile, collate, analyse and publish such information.
- 2. The Organization shall contribute to efforts to standardize and harmonize international reporting on forest-related matters, avoiding overlapping and duplication in data collection from different organizations.
The European Commission presented a new EU forest strategy (COM(2013) 659) for forests and the forest-based sector in 2013, in response to the increasing demands put on forests and to significant societal and political changes that have affected forests over the last decades. The strategy is a framework for forest-related measures and is used to coordinate EU initiatives with the forest policies of the Member States. A new forest strategy is under preparation as of 2020 with a view for its adoption in 2021. In March 2010, the European Commission adopted a Green paper on forest protection and information in the EU: preparing forests for climate change (COM(2010) 66 final). The paper aimed to stimulate debate concerning the way climate change modifies the terms of forest management and protection, and how EU policy should develop as a consequence.
- Forestry (t_for), see:
- Forestry (for), see:
- Removals, production and trade (for_rpt)
- Roundwood removals (for_rptr)
- Roundwood production and trade (for_rptt)
- Production and trade in primary products (for_rptp)
- Trade in secondary processed products (for_rpts)
- Economics (for_eaf)
- Economic aggregates of forestry (for_eco_cp)
- Supply and use of products within forestry (for_sup_cp)
- Monetary supply and use of wood in the rough (for_emsuw)
- Physical supply and use of wood in the rough over bark (for_epsuw)
- Output of forestry by type (for_eoutput)
- Economic accounts for forestry -historical data (until 2005) (for_eafh)
- Employment (for_emp)
- Forest resources (for_fsm)
- Environmental functions (for_fsmen)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2019 edition (Statistical book)
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2020 edition (Pocketbook)
- Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe — 2010 edition (Statistical book)
- Forestry in the EU and the world — 2011 edition (Statistical book)