The economic factor
In Germany, forestry is the largest land utilization industry after agriculture. It covers 11.1 million hectares, or 31% of the country’s area. 9 million of these are utilized commercially by some 28,000 forestry businesses.
Over 90 % of a forestry business’s turnover is achieved through the sale of the timber produced. However, there are other forest products they can use. With the exception of selling game, though, these are usually for personal consumption and make no money.
Forestry and the timber industry make up about 3 % of the gross domestic product, provide over 1 million jobs and achieve an annual turnover of more than 100 billion euros. If we take all the forestry and timber businesses and include all those manufacturing and processing branches, such as the paper industry, printing and publishing that are reliant on wood as a raw material, but also all suppliers or companies carrying out the transport of wood and wood products in the so-called “Forestry and Timber Cluster”, we reach a figure of around 1.3 million employees and an annual overall turnover of 181 billion euros (see graph). In terms of jobs and turnover, this puts the forestry and timber business among Germany’s leading industries. According to the EU definition, this sector has more employees than the automobile industry and achieves a higher turnover than the electrical, mechanical engineering or plant manufacturing industries.
The significance of Germany’s timber industry for the economy will continue to grow in future. The decisive factor here is not only its innovative strength, but also the available raw material potential. New developments in technology and design will help the timber industry regain its traditional territory, particularly in the building sector. One further aspect is that processing and using wood results in hardly any waste at all. All by-products and residual materials left over from production in any given sector are valuable raw materials for other sectors in the timber industry or can be used to generate energy.