The woodworking sector is one of Latvia's most important export industries and plays a key role in generating rural and regional employment. 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.
Because of its advantageous geographic location, Latvia has access to both western and eastern European markets. Today, this sector accounts for around 17% (2015) of Latvia’s exports and 75% of the sector’s output is intended for export, with value added in the woodworking sector increasing overall. As mentioned above, the success of the industry is based on highly qualified labour force, accessibility of local raw materials and high investment in R&D.
With forests covering more than 50% of Latvia’s territory (1.6 times the world average), Latvia is one of the most forested EU member states. Over the last 70 years, the forested area has nearly doubled – 3.354 million hectares - while standing volume has increased 3.3 times, reaching 576 million cubic metres. About 50% of forests are owned by the State. Management of State forests is undertaken by Latvian State Forests (Latvijas valsts meži), which also played a crucial part in overcoming the recession and reaching pre-recession economic indicators already in 2010. As of 2015, all state-owned woods are FSC certified. The relatively good health of Latvian forests compared with world averages gives them a substantial advantage. Government initiatives aimed at sustainable management contribute to the success of this sector and its long-term viability.
Product range offered by Latvian woodworking sector is very wide – starting from wood as raw materials to products of higher added value like wooden toys, furniture and houses. The main product groups are energy wood, and packaging materials, sawn timber for construction, joinery and carpentry products, furniture components, furniture, and wooden houses.
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