With ecological assets and large resources, the timber industry is yet discreet on the French territory. However, France has the third largest forest area in Europe, but registers a chronic deficit in the timber industry for over fifteen years. We propose you an overview on the potential of an untapped sector.
Unlocking the dormant potential of the timber industry
Furnitures, flooring and logging, paper… The wood industry, however, is not without resources. As a matter of fact, wood processing has made Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland central pillars of this sector and rank first in the industry of wood processing. France, yet not being disadvantaged by its large surface of forests,remains unable to show any good results. Although the turnover of the timber industry amounted to € 60 billion and employs 450,000 French people, the French wood industry continues lagging behind, which could be explained by the fact that three quarters of the forest areas are privately owned and thus remain untapped. For ten years, the country had signed an agreement aiming to increase the share of wood in the construction field and increase wood’s use from 10 to 12.5 % before 2010. However, the agreement didn’t help move the industry forward. The sector registers in France a deficit of about € 6 million each year and considers China as responsible for the deficit.
Indeed, China is a major importer of wood since the country was hit by deforestation. The imports of Chinese wood yet represent only 4% of the French production, but drove up the price of wood by 15 % only within a year. The reason is that the wood exported by France is purchased as a raw material, but returns to our markets as furniture. This furniture comes back as a finished product and therefore wins an added value that allows it to be resold for a higher price. This became a problem for French sawmills that consider the extra costs that was established within only one year beyond their means. To overcome this problem, the government recently registered the timber industry on the « new industrial France”, a list that was recently established by the French government list, where the timber industry is now listed among 34 other sectors that will need to be focused on in the next coming years.
Despite a strong potential in this sector, France is unable to be competitive and will have to move the timber industry forward in order to be able to create jobs in the sawmill, carpentry and in general in the forestry fields.