Wood and Timber

The main pillars of the success achieved by the Austrian timber industry are the commitment to nature, and the traditional, sustainable work with the natural product timber in connection with innovative, scientifically sound research.

Woodland is a vital element of our healthy environment and the essential basis for one of the most important sectors in our country. Woodland and timber enables almost 300,000 Austrian people to make a living; besides, Austria´s abundant resources of woodland and timber is an indispensable prerequisite for the existence of other sectors – above all, when it comes to the creation of value in the domestic tourism sector. Austria´s timber industry represents one of the international hubs in the timber business and, in addition, one of the country´s most important employers. The added value chain timber is not only a booster for the domestic economy, but also a significant impetus for the foreign trade balance of Austria. Owing to its richness in woodland, the economic activities with timber has been a long tradition in Austria. Profound scientific experience, the principle of sustainability, and a product range that meets the highest quality standards form the backbone of the sector´s international success.

Austria – the No. 1 address when it comes to timber 

The fundamental sectors of the Austrian timber industry include the sawing industry, the timber processing industry, the timber trade, the paper and pulp industry, and the timber processing trade. For the time being, the “Association of the Austrian Timber Industry“ counts 1,513 active enterprises of which around 1,200 account for the sawing industry. With more than 27,000 employees the timber sector ranks among the largest and most important employers of Austria, at which the employment level turns out to be quite stable in retrospect to the employment figures. Regarding the proportional shares of the states in the production value, the leading position is clearly held by Styria, followed by Lower Austria and Upper Austria. As a result of the global crisis in 2008, the timber industry had to cope with a decline in production. The current figures of the last business year 2010 (Statistik Austria) show, however, that not only has the Austrian timber industry recovered but also succeeded in catching up. In the context of the economy statistics the production output amounts to a whopping EUR 6.87 billion – this corresponds to a +10 percent increase to the previous year! The timber industry is actually considered as strongly export-oriented sector, but the Austrian“per-head-consumption” of timber reflects the Austrians´ commitment to the natural product. Information of the University for Soil Culture in Vienna reveal that Austria´s not only ranking on the top position of timber consumption in Europe, but also when it comes to the international comparison.

Timber industry – one of the most robust factors for the foreign trade in Austria 

The timber industry is traditionally known to be a rather export-oriented sector; the foreign trade rate has been above the „70-percent mark“ for years, while the subsector of the timber industry – the paper segment can even boast an export rate of more than 85 percent (refer to paper and pulp industry). The sector “timber” shows a constantly positive trade balance; compared to 2009, the sector could boost its trade balance value by nearly 19 percent in 2010. With an export quota of 73 percent and a total volume exceeding EUR 5 billion (cf. Statistik Austria: 2010), the timber industry proves to be a stable factor in the Austrian export trade balance and it will maintain its position in the International Year of the Forest 2011.

The most important customers of Austrian timber products are the EU countries with the major customers Italy and Germany. The markets in Asia (e.g. Japan) and America are still moving forward. An analysis of the data compiled from the entire added value chain in the domain of forestry-timber-paper (incl. paper and pulp industry) shows that the timber industry boasts an export volume of a good EUR 8.7 billion (cf. FHP, Kooperationsplattform Forst, Holz, Papier) and hence strengthens the Austrian export trade balance with a surplus of EUR 3.42 billion – this export surplus catapults the sector “timber and timber industry” to the approximately same level as of the “balance figurehead”, which is represented by the tourism sector.

The main pillars of the success achieved by the Austrian timber industry are made of the commitment to nature, and the traditional, sustainable work with the natural product timber in connection with innovative, scientifically sound research. Another contributing factor to the international success comes with the elaborate organization structure in the Austrian timber industry and the high quality of the products. Timber from Austria: Tradition meets the Future!

Editorial department: Mag. Sandra Hollersbacher