Employment in Sweden’s wood industry consistent while the rest of Europe undergoes cuts

Sweden, the third-largest exporter of forest products in the world, is an important economy. The Swedish forest industry accounts for nine to 12 per cent of the total employment, sales, and exports of the country.

A country so heavily forested that open plains are more of the exception rather than the rule, an estimated 80 per cent of forest land is in active use, with a mere one per cent felled every year. Moreover, over the past nine decades, Sweden’s forest resource doubled, according to Skogs Industerierna.

Swedish Pine. Image credit: Magnus Glans

Export-oriented, Sweden ships out approximately 80 per cent of its forest products, with lumber prices in Sweden also strengthening in 2017, hitting the highest levels since 2015. Directly employing some 70,000 people while many other European countries witnessed a downward trend in employment levels, employment trends in Sweden, by contrast, has remained consistent in recent years, according to the International Labour Organization, Forestry and Wood Industries Committee.

With modern building regulations playing a part in the rise of multi-storey timber structures, aided by the lower cost of building with wood in comparison with other building materials and growing environmental awareness in the country, the timber industry in Sweden is enjoying resurgence.

A factory in China utilises Swedish pine. Image: Swedish Wood.

Demand for saw logs has also remained high, and is expected to do so this year as well, due to improving markets for sawn softwood both domestically and internationally. And after a low rate of building for 10 years, pent-up demand, globalised trade, rapid technological innovations and urbanisation are driving building activities and new opportunities in numerous markets, with building activities on a 25-year high and increasing the demand for wood from Sweden, with production expected to exceed 18.3 million cbm in 2018.


This article is part of a longer series in the Sylva Wood 2018 show preview. It was first published in Panels & Furniture Asia (May/Jun Issue).