Current harvest levels in most European countries are still well below increment. According to Eurostat data, the European Organization of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) has revealed that the total stock of timber standing in EU27 forests has increased by almost 30% between 2000 and 2020, with the stock rising in every Member State.
In 2020, the logging industry removed an estimated 65% of the net annual increment of wood in EU forests. However, EOS has also highlighted that other forest trends are having a negative impact on log availability in Europe.
One of the main factors contributing to the low harvest levels is the increase in protected areas and the implementation of strict conservation policies. These measures aim to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems but often limit the amount of timber that can be harvested.
Additionally, the aging forest population in Europe poses a challenge to the logging industry. Many forests are reaching maturity, and the available timber is becoming scarcer. This is further exacerbated by the lack of forest regeneration and replanting efforts.
Furthermore, the demand for timber has been steadily increasing in recent years, driven by construction and the growing bioenergy sector. This surge in demand has put additional pressure on the already limited supply of logs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in disrupting the timber supply chain. Lockdown measures and restrictions on international trade have caused delays and logistical challenges, affecting the timely delivery of timber products.
To address these issues, the European Union and individual Member States have been implementing various strategies and initiatives. The EU’s Forest Strategy, for example, aims to promote sustainable forest management and increase the use of wood-based products in construction and renewable energy.
Member States have also been encouraged to develop national forest programs and promote responsible logging practices. This includes ensuring proper forest regeneration, investing in research and innovation, and promoting the use of certified sustainable timber.
In conclusion, while the total stock of timber in European forests has been increasing over the past two decades, current harvest levels are still below the increment. Protected areas, aging forests, increasing demand, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the challenges faced by the logging industry in Europe. However, with the implementation of sustainable forest management practices and the promotion of responsible logging, it is hoped that these issues can be addressed and the timber supply can be secured for the future.