As Latvia is one of Europe's greenest nations and forests cover around half of it's territory the forest industry for centuries has been strategically important to Latvia's national economy. Today woodworking sector is one of Latvia's most important export industries and plays an essential role in rural and regional employment generation.
The industry's success is based on Latvia's favourable combination of vast forest resources, strategic location and a cost-efficient labour force. Additionally, government policies aimed at achieving sustainable forestry development have supported the industry's success.
Sawmilling, wood chips and pallets, panels, furniture, plywood
- In Japan it’s called shinrin-yoku (forest bathing); in Norway it’s friluftsliv (appreciation of outdoors activity and nature). But in Latvia it's just a normal day outside. As forests in our country take up to 3.4 million hectares of land, or 52% of the country’s territory.
- Our forests are growing. With total growing stock volume of 677 million m3 Latvia is the fourth most forested country in Europe.
- Some numbers to help you understand the equation. Forestry, wood processing and furniture making represents around 5% of GDP.
- Who owns this green gold? The Latvian State owns around one-half of the country’s forests, while most of remaining forest belongs to approximately 135’000 private owners.
- This industry is also very export oriented. Forest sector contributes ~30% of total Latvian exports or 2,6 billion EUR.
- You need a good management to care for such a precious resource. So 8 associations of Latvia’s forest industry joined together to form the Latvian Forest Industry Federation, which ensures the international representation of the industry’s interests.
- Latvijas Finieris (“Latvian Plywood”) key operational areas are production and sales of birch plywood, development of new birch plywood products and supply of related services. Today, “Latvian Plywood” has grown internationally with production facilities in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, as well as 12 fully owned product development and sales companies in Europe and overseas, their turnover reaches 250 million EUR and their products are sold in more than 60 countries and used in various industries such as rail, sea and road transport, furniture, parquet flooring, packaging and carpentry.
- Latvia’s State Forests pursue state interests in forestry by sustaining and increasing the forest value, while gaining maximum possible value from forest management. Company is state-owned and is managing forest areas owned by the state and for this purpose employs more than 1000 people. Fields of operations include Forest infrastructure, Roundwood production and supply, Silvistructure, Seed and plant growing, Construction minerals, Recreation and hunting, real estate operations and others. “Latvia’s State Forests” annual turnover is around 275 million EUR and since it’s establishment in 1999 the company has contributed to government and municipal budgets over 1 billion EUR.
- Cross Timber Systems is the biggest company producing Cross-Laminated Timber panel products across Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Their products are used for floor, wall and roof solutions in mid-rise constructions. Their manufactured product as a construction solution is less expensive, less waste producing, it provides shorter construction time, more durability and better logistics. Cross Timber Systems annual production capacity is 25 000 m3.
- Latgran is a Latvia-based producer of wood pellets for the industry. Company was founded in 2004, and is owned by Estonian “Graanul Invest”. Clients of the company are some of the major electricity and thermal energy producers of Europe, as well as smaller public institutions and industrial plants. Latgran has more than 100 employees producing over 500 000 MT of wood pellets per annum in 4 factories in Latvia. Company’s products are chemical-free and can be considered as an environmentally friendly fuel. Their products show up to three times the energy capacity per unit of mass compared to firewood and wood-chips.
- Stora Enso is one of the world leaders in the development of solutions based on wood and biomass for a range of industries and applications. Globally it employs around 26 000 people in 30 countries and their sales exceed 10 billion EUR. The company in Latvia has a sawmill and a packaging factory. The mill in Latvia produces around 190 thousand cubic meters of timber per annum and expects to grow with new additional products and investments potentially reaching more than 70 million in the upcoming years.
- Kronospan is the world leader in wood panel manufacturing, established in Austria in 1897. Group consists of more than 40 factories worldwide and employs 14 000 people. They opened their manufacturing facility in Latvia in 2005 and today their turnover in Latvia has reached more than 230 million EUR per annum. The company invests regularly and previous investments in 2018 reached more than 12 million EUR.
- Care to take a serene walk in the forest? Just go outside, you have plenty of options as forests in Latvia take up 3.383 million hectares of land, or 52% of the country’s territory. The amount of forestland is constantly expanding and the volume of timber in the forest is increasing three times more than the area of forestland.
- Latvian state owns around one-half of the country’s forests, while the rest of the forest belongs to approximately 135,000 private owners.
- We are fully aware that we need to be thankful for this resource and manage our forests responsibly. In order to keep the forestry sector sustainable, on average 9.4 thousand hectares of soil is prepared each year and an area of 8.1-9.3 thousand hectares is regenerated.
- If numbers and figures delight you we would like to point out that the output of woodworking sector leaves a considerable impact on Latvian economy by producing 27% of the total manufacturing sector output in Latvia in 2019. Regarding international economy and trade, Latvia is fully embedded in the woodworking sector markets.
- Wood products made in Latvia can be found in many parts of the world as the export of the sector amounts to 2.6 billion EUR and comprises 21% of Latvia’s total exports in 2018. Currently more than 71% of forest sector output is exported, indicating the historically high quality of Latvian woodworking products.
- We are appreciated by many but our biggest friends and supporters (read - Latvia’s largest export partners) are United Kingdom (17%), Estonia (12%), Germany (8%), Denmark (7%) and Sweden (11%). Also, the flow of foreign investment increases on a yearly basis.
- Foreign investors have an eye on our woodworking industry. At the end of 2019, foreign direct investment in the particular sector reached more than 500 million EUR.
Employment and education
- It is great that we are able to create work places...and a lot of them in this case. The sector is one of the biggest employers in Latvia employing around 39 thousand people with majority of them being employed in manufacturing of timber and wood products sector (23 thousand) and 6 thousand employed in furniture making. Additional 10 thousand people are employed in the forestry sector, managing Latvia’s national resource.
- Amongst manufacturing industries woodworking sector is the biggest employer with 20.1% of the total number of people employed in manufacturing sector in 2019.
- Emerging professionals interested in the forestry are provided with plenty of options. Education in the area of the forest sector can be obtained at 14 professional educational institutions, the Forest Faculty of the Latvian Agricultural University (LLU), and the Textile Technology and Design Institute of the Riga Technical University’s Faculty of Material Sciences and Applied Chemistry.
- For your company to be successful you need good specialists who could keep up the good work! In the forest faculty the total number of students in 2019 amounted to 525 and 75 new forest sector specialists graduated.