A trend towards environmentally and climate-friendly building is becoming apparent in the construction industry world-wide. Modern timber construction allows all the demands of sustainable building to be met in an optimal way. The German forest and wood-based industry offers a broad spectrum of superior softwood and hardwood products for demanding wood structures and creative interior finishing.
Regenerative, carbon fixing and recyclable - no other building material offers such great potential for "green building" as the renewable resource wood. Innovative structural timber design makes energy efficient construction possible, while requiring a minimal use of energy. Modern wood products along with innovative timber construction methods meet the highest of technical standards and demonstrate exceptional performance. Intelligent finishing techniques make these products economically applicable. Examples of innovative timber construction are the Expo Roof built in Hanover, which spans 16,000 square meters, and a seven-storey residential building in Berlin. Contemporary wood architecture and state-of-the-art timber construction methods, enable the building of private homes, as well as notable public and commercial structures.
The principle of sustainability was established in German forestry nearly three centuries ago in order to protect the forest and to ensure the long-term availability of wood resources. Based on protection by law, the forests in Germany are still governed by strict sustainable forest management. Consequently, most of the forest area is certified under leading international certification programs such as PEFC or FSC. With more than a third of the area covered by forests and with a standing timber supply of 3.4 billion cubic metres, Germany contains the largest wood resources in Europe.
Forest resources in Germany are the core of a very long-standing tradition yet highly competitive and innovative industry. With more than 150,000 companies, 1.2 million employees and an annual sales volume of 167 billion Euro, the German forest and wood-based industry is a major global player in the wood sector. It is a technology leader that is exemplified by leading production volumes and significant export quantities. For example, with some 22 million cubic metres of sawn timber, the German sawmill industry is Europe's largest producer.
These modern products include: solid structural timber (KVH®, technically dried, finger-jointed and planed quality structural timber); balcony glulam (Duo/Trio-Beams®, two or three-layered, laminated, finger-jointed timber for high dimensional stability and superior appearance); and glued-laminated timber (Glulam or BSH, several layers of glued, finger-jointed timber with high load-bearing capacities and particularly well-suited for large spans requiring superior appearance). Hardwood products, for example those made from robust hardwoods such as European Beech or White Oak, are especially well-suited for creative interior design projects and furniture-making because of their high aesthetic value, excellent technical properties and a wide range of application.
These wood products are in high demand in Europe as well as overseas markets. In 2008, Germany exported 7.7 million cubic metres of softwood timber all over the globe. It is one of the most important supplier of sawn timber in Europe and it is the second most important supplier of softwood timber to the USA. Exports to the Middle East - especially to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - also increased sharply last year. Hardwood exports are also on the rise, with China being among the top consumers of German beech products.
The German Timber Promotion Fund maintains contact with architects, planners and representatives of the trade and manufacturing industry in many countries worldwide in order to increase the understanding of the possibilities and advantages in using modern wood products from sustainable forestry. Our common goal should be to use even more forest and wood-based products in order to surmount our current and future global challenges and to help society live more sustainably.