Lack of timber in the European market

Created on 06 July 2022
After introducing a prohibition on imports of wood products from Russia and Belarus in April, Estonia after all resisted the influence of the wood shortage, and informed in early June that it would ease logging restrictions on state-owned forests.

This has enlarged Estonia's harvestable territories by nearly 25%. Finland is also said to increase its harvest by 3% annually over the next couple of years. Many timber producing and importing and exporting European countries have begun to take corresponding measures to fill the timber gap.
All these transformations come from the chain reaction of the European continent's cut-off of timber imports from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Popular woods
like oak, birch, beech, etc. are in short supply as we know. For European market, these three countries exported 8.5 million m of softwood to Europe in 2021, ensuring a quarter of the world timber trade.
Architects and designers are competing to source wood for their projects, as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has stopped imports in the region, threatening stocks all through the continent and in turn increasing prices. In Europe, the price of oak logs and birch plywood has more than doubled in the past few months, while structural lumber prices have grown by around 20% generally.
Sean Sutcliffe, co-owner of British furniture maker Benchmark, marked:
"Everyone is very concerned about their supply chain. Merchants, including us, have projects in their hands that cost a lot more than usual. The price to purchase, especially the birch plywood used in many of our projects has been unable to find a procurement channel.”
Danish design studio Space Copenhagen noted: “Solid oak is now worth more than gold, and people even regard it as a futures store of value. Although suppliers and manufacturers can still deliver previously placed orders, in just a few months’ time everything will disappear."
Mainly volumes of timber exports from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine head to the Baltic
states, as well as to places like Germany and Finland, and for construction companies and furniture makers, the knock-on effect is being felt around Europe. Due to the sharp shortage of oak, many companies began to use British ash and American red oak for furniture manufacturing.
Changes in this supply chain have also influenced other countries and regions including North American countries, Brazil, Solomon, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana etc. Large amount of tropical wood began to come into European countries. In the first four months of this year, UK imports of tropical plywood from Indonesia rose 25% to 13,900 tones. Imports of tropical sawn timber from Congo and Cameroon increased by 240% and 14% respectively year-on-year.
Consumption of parquet floors has boosted in almost all European countries, according to figures revealed in June at the FEP Congress in Hamburg, Germany. The conference predicts that the demand for European wood flooring will proceed to increase in the second half of the year. As for oak (about 81.9%), which is the main material used in Europe for wooden floors, drag is inevitable. In Austria and Germany sales of wood flooring products have been declining, not due to a shortage of orders, but due to a shortage of production materials that cannot be delivered. The shortage of timber supply is said to extend to all European markets in the next months.

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