Spanish wood industry transformed by the downturn
The Spanish timber trade suffered dramatically from the
economic crisis and especially from the contraction by 70-
80% in the building sector.
However, the Spanish economy and the local wood
industry are slowly beginning to recover. The industry has
also changed dramatically since the crisis and is now
exploiting new market segments. This is according to an
interview with Alberto Romero, General Secretary of the
Spanish importers‟ federation AEIM, for the European
Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) newsletter.
Mr Romero said that thermal and chemical treatment of
wood are now opening up new opportunities for timber
use in a wider range of exterior applications in Spain.
Timber‟s green credentials are also beginning to make
timber the building material of choice in small-scale, rural
construction projects, the number of which has increased
as a consequence of the economic crisis. This is in market
which has traditionally been dominated by concrete, stone
and tiles. Wood is also increasingly being used in building
bridges, road barriers or signage, according to Mr Romero.
Mr Romero also said that the central government in Spain
had given little support to the timber industry. Regional
and local authorities, on the other hand, had introduced
public purchasing policies that favoured low
environmental impact materials. AEIM was thus focussing
its promotional activities on those bodies.
On EUTR implementation, Mr Romero conceded that
Spain is lagging behind: the Competent Authority was
shown the „yellow card‟ by the EU Commission this year,
but has now developed an enforcement plan. AEIM has
applied to become a EUTR Monitoring Organisation,
especially to assist its small and medium-sized member
companies in practising due diligence.
Mr Romero also said that it was frustrating that there is
still no FLEGT-licensed timber on the market. However
he emphasised the importance of the FLEGT VPA process
as, in his view, it has already made a significant
contribution to improving governance and transparency.
German timber traders report slow business in 2015
The German timber trade experienced subdued business in
the first four months of 2015, reports the Global Timber
Forum. Data provided by the German timber trade
federation GD Holz indicates that turnover was 5.5%
lower than in the same period of 2014.
However, GD Holz points out that sales had been
exceptionally strong in the first four months of 2014, with
double-digit growth over 2013.
Sales of decking and other outdoor assortments of
particular relevance to the trpical wood industry fell
steeply by 13% in the first four months of this year. Again
this was partly owing to the base effect of strong sales in
2014. Sales of lumber (-6%), planed timber (-4%), and
wood flooring (-2%) also declined. The only sector
experiencing positive positive growth was interior doors,
rising 7% over 2014.
According to a survey conducted by GD Holz among its
members, the German timber trade is cautiously optimistic
about prospects in the coming months. Around half of the
companies expect stable turnover at last year‟s level and
20% anticipate increases. GD Holz believes that the
underlying conditions in Germany are still positive.
Norway and Switzerland move to regulate timber imports
Although not an EU member state, Norway has decided to
implement the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) with effect
from 1 May 2015.
According to a press release issued by the Norwegian
government, Norway has operated ¡°on the same level as
the EU countries regarding the timber regulation¡± since
Norway has become a significant financier of REDD and
other climate-related forest protection policies in tropical
countries ¨C but is not generally recognised as a significant
player in the tropical wood industry.
The country remains the only one in the world where the
national government bans the use of all tropical timber in
public sector buildings and construction works. As noted
by Chatham House, the UK-based policy and research
organisation, this policy is unlikely to be consistent with
WTO procurement rules but has never been challenged,
possibly because it has had limited impact.
Nevertheless, Norway‟s direct imports of wood related
products from tropical countries are not negligible, in the
region of $80 to $90 million each year, dominated by
wood furniture from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, and
charcoal from Indonesia.
Norway has already appointed two Competent Authorities
for enforcement of the new timber regulation: the
Agricultural Authority will be in charge of checking on
timber and timber products of Norwegian origin and the
Norwegian Environmental Agency is responsible for
Plans by Switzerland to introduce an equivalent to the
EUTR will also impact on the tropical wood trade.
Although Switzerland imports only around 4.3% of timber
and timber products from outside the EU, the country
imported in excess of US$100 million of products
containing wood fibre direct from tropical countries in
2014. Much of this consisted of furniture and other added
value products, notably from Thailand, Vietnam and
The Swiss Federal Council had hoped to have the new
regulation in place this year or early in 2016. However,
consultation is taking longer than expected and
introduction of the EUTR may now be delayed until the
second half of next year or even into 2017.
Netherlands exceeds certified import target
The initiative by the Netherland‟s Timber Trade
Association (VVNH) to make certified timber the norm on
the Dutch market is running ahead of plan, according to a
report by Probos. In 2014, 88% of imports by VVNH
members were FSC or PEFC certified, well ahead of the
85% target. Certification covered 97% of softwood
imports, 89% of panel products imports, and 56% of
hardwood imports. VVNH members account for 60-70%
of Dutch timber imports. They report twice a year on
certified materials trade levels.
ETTF AGM supports widening of procurement policies
At the ETTF annual general meeting in Rome, the
organisation agreed to back an initiative of the EU
Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) to support
development of procurement policies favouring certified
over uncertified wood in Germany, France, Italy, Spain
and Denmark. The proposed policies are similar to those
already in place in the Netherlands and the UK.
The ETTF also recommended that the EUTR should be
more uniformly enforced across Europe and that PEFC
and FSC certification be made a ¡°green lane¡± for
ETTF reported at the AGM on plans for joint project
between STTC and ITTO to establish an online platform
of tropical producer information.
The platform will feature tropical supply country
businesses and contact data, with harvesting and
compliance information to facilitate EUTR due diligence.
ETTF has commissioned Form International, a Dutchbased
organisation, to implement the project jointly with
ITTO. The website is expected to be launched in
November 2015 and to be completed in 2016.
¡®Wood for Growth¡¯ promotes wood¡¯s low carbon
The industry network „Wood for Growth‟ urges EU
politicians to recognise the potential of timber as a driver
of low emission growth, reports the ETTF newsletter.
Politicians should realise the advantages of timber at the
Paris UN COP 21 Climate Change Conference in
At the same time, „Wood for Growth‟ also calls upon the
wood industry to promote its low carbon credentials to
policy makers and the market.
David Hopkins, „Wood for Growth‟ chairman, told the
ETTF newsletter ¡°We focused on supporting measure the
EU Commission has put forward in its Roadmap to Paris,
a package of environmental strategies and
recommendations to be tabled at the COP 21¡±.
The Roadmap recognises the role forestry can play in
tackling climate change. Wood for Growth aims to build
on this by emphasising that ¡°this benefit can only reach
maximum potential with increased use of wood. Using
wood in manufacture and construction locks in CO2
absorbed by trees in the long-term¡±.
Another factor the wood industry should promote more,
according to Mr Hopkins, is the woodworking industry‟s
potential to support economic growth, while cutting
emissions. ¡°European woodworking has a growth goal,
which would boost EU industrial output by 4% a year.
This would add €2.35 billion to the economy and create
80.000 jobs, while cutting atmospheric CO2 emission
levels by 150 million tonnes¡±.
Denmark to carry out more DNA timber testing
The Danish government is evaluating DNA timber testing
to facilitate enforcement of the EUTR, the ETTF
newsletter reports. Until now, the Danish EUTR
Competent Authority (CA) as well as importers rely
primarily on supplier documentation.
According to the Danish government, DNA testing will
provide much greater clarity on wood species and origin in
the future. This is particularly difficult at the moment
where composite products are concerned.
The Danish Environment Ministry and the CA have
already carried out initial DNA trials on samples provided
by the industry, according to the ETTF newsletter.
Industry representatives in Denmark have welcomed the
initiative as it would ¡°communicate to suppliers that it is
crucial their due diligence is on par¡±. Long-term funding
for the initiative has still to be secured, but the Danish
government is financing the initial phase.
IHC focuses on global market trends and new market
Global market trends as well as the availability and
mobilisation of hardwood resources will dominate the
morning session of the International Hardwood
Conference (IHC) in Copenhagen on 17 September.
Analyst Rupert Oliver, Lead Consultant to the EU-funded
FLEGT Independent Market Monitoring mechanism
hosted by ITTO, will give an overview of the global
Regional market trends in Europe, Asia/China,
USA/Canada and Africa will be presented by Jean-
Francois Guilbert (French Timber) and Andreas von
Möller (European Timber Trade Federation, ETTF),
Sheam Satkuru-Granzella (Malaysian Timber Council),
Mike Snow (American Hardwood Export Council, AHEC)
and Ad Wesselink (Wijma).
The afternoon session will be dedicated to new market
opportunities and wood promotion. The architect Peter
Wilson will speak about innovative use of hardwood in
building and design.
AHEC European director David Venables will explain
how to create new market opportunities for hardwood and
Knud Erik Hansen of Carl Hansen & Son will present
Danish furniture design. The afternoon session also feature
talks about the EU Timber Regulation, sustainability and
the availability of European hardwoods.