“After the heat wave, there is a threat of frost,” said DI Markus Schmölzer, chairman of the Austrian sawmill industry, as he addressed the current situation in his industry on the occasion of International Wood Day on September 15, 2023 in Pörtschach. The Austrian sawmill industry has experienced a sharp decline in demand following years of high demand. This year, there has been a massive decrease in construction activity, resulting in a lack of orders from the construction industry. As a result, the Austrian sawmill industry is expected to produce significantly less in 2023 compared to previous years, potentially up to 20 percent.
The timber trade in Austria has been greatly impacted by the changing market conditions. The industry, which plays a vital role in the country’s economy, is now facing uncertainty and challenges. The decline in construction activity has had a domino effect on the entire supply chain, affecting not only sawmills but also timber merchants and other related businesses.
The heat wave that struck Austria earlier this year has had a lasting impact on the timber industry. The extreme temperatures and drought have led to a decrease in the availability of timber, as trees have suffered from stress and reduced growth. This, combined with the decline in construction activity, has created a perfect storm for the Austrian sawmill industry.
The consequences of this decline are far-reaching. Not only will the industry face financial losses, but there will also be a significant impact on employment. Many sawmills may be forced to reduce their workforce or even shut down operations entirely. This will have a ripple effect on the local communities, resulting in job losses and economic instability.
The Austrian government has recognized the severity of the situation and is taking steps to support the industry. Measures such as financial assistance and subsidies are being considered to help sawmills weather the storm. Additionally, efforts are being made to promote the use of domestically sourced timber in construction projects, in order to stimulate demand and support the local industry.
International Wood Day serves as a reminder of the importance of the timber industry and the need to protect and sustain it. It is a day to celebrate the versatility and beauty of wood, while also acknowledging the challenges faced by those working in the industry. This year, the focus is on raising awareness about the impact of climate change and its effects on the timber trade.
The threat of frost after the heat wave is a metaphor for the challenges faced by the Austrian sawmill industry. Just as frost can damage and hinder growth, the current market conditions are posing a threat to the industry’s stability and future. It is crucial for stakeholders, including the government, businesses, and consumers, to come together and find sustainable solutions to ensure the survival and growth of the Austrian sawmill industry.