Forest Industry

With forests covering more than 50 % of the country’s territory (1.6 times the world average), Latvia is one of the most forested EU member states. Over the last 80 years, the forested area has nearly doubled while standing volume has increased 3.6 times, reaching 631 million cubic metres.

According to the National Forest Inventory (NFI) data from 2009, the larger share of Latvia’s forest consists of deciduous, 53 % of the total woodland.

About 50 % of forests are owned by the state and managed by state stock company Latvijas Valsts Meži (Latvian State Forests).

Distribution of Forest Area by Ownership

Source: Central Statistical Bureau
* Since 2009 in forestry statistics (National Forest Inventory) auditing is made every 5 years

The relatively good health of Latvian forests compared with world averages gives them a substantial advantage. Furthermore, the area of regenerated forest is increasing. In 2014, a total area of 37,986 ha of forest was regenerated, of which 49.8 % was in state forests and 50.2 % in privately owned forests.

Final Felling and Forest Regeneration

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

The volume of timber harvested annually from Latvia’s forests by 2009 had been fairly stable – between 10 and 11 million m3 of timber.

Volume of Felling by Ownership

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

During the past decade, forest owners and manufacturing companies in Latvia have sought to receive certification of the sustainable use of forest resources. Forest management processes and timber product delivery chains in Latvia are certified on the basis of the two most widely used systems in the world – FSC and PEFC. This proves that the country’s forests are managed according to internationally acknowledged standards of good forestry.

FOREIGN TRADE AND INVESTMENT

The forest industry has always been the export leader. Export of wood and its products was the most significant sector of Latvian export in 2014, comprising 17 % of the overall export value in Latvia. Currently about 73 % of forest sector output is exported.

The foreign trade balance of the Latvian woodworking industry is positive, having reached EUR 1.3 billion in 2014. In 2014, the value of wood product exports was EUR 2 billion, 7 % more than in 2013. In 2014, the value of wood product import was EUR 676.7 million.

Exports and Imports of Woodworking Products

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

The biggest share of export value has sawnwood, roundwood, and fuelwood, with EUR 560 million, EUR 197 million, and EUR 248 million, respectively. Compared to 2013, the most significant increases in exports were for veneer and wood construction components.

Woodworking Product Exports by Type of Product in 2014

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

The main export destinations traditionally are EU countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden.

Proportion of Woodworking Product Exports by Country in 2014

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

Latvia has one of the highest investment rates in Europe in wood and wood products and the most competitive labor force. Within the subsector, builders’ carpentry has the highest investment rate. Recently, significant investments have also been made in the production of particle board, OSB.

Latvian companies in industry 
Database of Latvian exporters

Additional information at:
Full industry profile: Forest Industry in Latvia
Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia: www.csb.gov.lv
Ministry of Agriculture: www.zm.gov.lv
Latvian Wood Industry Portal: www.latvianwood.lv
JSC Latvijas Valsts Meži (Latvia’s State Forests): www.lvm.lv 
Latvia State Forest Service: www.vmd.gov.lv