Forest Industry

With forests covering more than 50 % of the country’s territory (almost double the world average), Latvia is one of the most forested EU member states. Over the last 80 years, the forested area has doubled while standing volume has increased 3.8 times, reaching 668 million cubic metres.

According to National Forest Inventory (NFI) data from 2014, the majority of Latvia’s forest cover consists of deciduous trees, 55 % of total woodland.

About 46 % 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 2015, a total area of 41,653 ha of forest was regenerated, of which 39 % was in State-owned forests and 61 % in private-sector forests.

Final Felling and Forest Regeneration

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

Volume of Felling by Ownership

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

More than 50 % of Latvian forests, including all State-owned forests, are certified in accordance with the PEFC system, and 50 companies in Latvia have obtained certification of their delivery chains from the same system. About 360 forest-sector enterprises and forest owners have certified their timber chain-of-custody systems according to FSC requirements and the amount of forestland that has been certified on the basis of FSC requirements exceeds 1 million hectares.

FOREIGN TRADE

The forest industry has always been the export leader. Exports of wood and its products was the most significant export sector in 2015, comprising 17 % of total export value. About 75 % of forestry-sector output is exported.

The foreign trade balance of the Latvian woodworking industry is positive, having reached EUR 1.3 billion in 2015. In 2015, the value of wood-product exports was EUR 2 billion, 2 % higher than in 2014. In 2015, the value of wood-product imports was EUR 679 million.

Exports and Imports of Woodworking Products

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

Sawn wood, fuel wood, and roundwood had the biggest shares of export value, totalling EUR 582 million, EUR 283 million and EUR 150 million respectively.

Woodworking Product Exports by Type of Product in 2015

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 2015

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:
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