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Wood in Austria has been in short supply in recent months and the prices are horrendous. According to the Austrian sawmill industry, things are now back to normal.

The enormous increase in the prices of lumber has been a major topic of discussion, especially in the past few months. Impacted by huge demand in the USA, wood in Austria has also been difficult to get and prices have climbed at unprecedented levels.

The Austrian sawmill industry exported large quantities, and local timber builders criticized the fact that too few goods were available at too high prices. Wood prices have also had an impact on Austrian consumers. The construction costs have risen sharply.

A situation that is slowly returning to normal. “After a dynamic first half of the year, normality is returning to the Austrian timber market, ” says Georg Jung, member of the federal timber trade committee of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce on the occasion of the International Timber Day, which takes place in Pörtschach am Wörthersee. The Austrian market has found its equilibrium again and delivery times are back to normal.

Further increases in production

“We expect our production output to increase again in 2021. As early as 2020, the Austrian sawmill industry was able to increase its production as in previous years, despite the COVID restrictions,” explains Markus Schmölzer, Chairman of the Austrian sawmill industry. In 2020, 10.6 million cubic meters of lumber were produced in Austria. Based on the first half of the year, the forecast for 2021 expects a production of more than 11 million cubic meters.

According to Jung, the Italian market is particularly important for the Austrian local wood and sawmill industry. The export of lumberr from Austria to Italy is the fourth largest timber trade in the world. Almost half of the lumber exports go to the southern neighbors. Germany follows in second place with a share of 20 percent. Schmölzer also points out that half of the lumber production remains in Austria.

“A successful sawmill industry needs a secure supply of sawlogs. And this can only be achieved with active and sustainable forest management. Extending forest areas in Austria and Europe from harvesting, i.e. shutting them down, is counterproductive for climate protection and bad for added value and jobs,” explains Schmölzer. He is addressing the discussion in the political arena, especially in the EU Commission, about withdrawing forest areas from timber harvest.

Enough sales markets for damaged wood

Before the pandemic, there was a lot of damaged wood on the market that you could hardly get rid of. That has changed, said Markus Schmölzer, the chairman of the sawmill industry in Austria and managing director of the Hasslacher company.

“We still have the hotspots in Upper Carinthia and East Tyrol, where there is still a lot of damaged wood. However, the market conditions have changed positively to the point that there are sufficient sales opportunities. ”However, there are currently problems with the capacities for processing and transport,” said Schmölzer.

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