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German timber harvests show decline

A total of 70.6 million cubic metres of wood was harvested in Germany in 2023. This represented a decrease in timber harvest of 10.3% compared to the previous year (2022: 78.7 million cubic metres), as reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

The main reason for the reduced timber harvest was forest damage. Thus, in 2023, 38.7 million cubic metres of damaged timber was harvested, which was 13.2% less than the previous year (2022: 44.7 million cubic meters). After the record year of 2020, when the highest volume of damaged timber since the beginning of the time series in 1990 was recorded at 60.1 million cubic metres, the harvest of damaged timber declined for the third consecutive year. In 2023, more than half (54.9%) of the timber harvest was attributable to forest damage, the lowest value since 2018. In 2020, the proportion of damaged timber in the total timber harvest was nearly three-quartres (74.8%).


In 2023, 27.2 million cubic metres of damaged timber were harvested due to insect damage. This was 2.6% more than the previous year (2022: 26.6 million cubic metres). However, the two record years of 2020 and 2021, characterised by damage from bark beetle infestation, with each over 40 million cubic metres of insect wood, were significantly lower. The proportion of insect-related damaged timber in the total damaged timber in 2023 was 70.3%.

The second most significant cause of damaged timber in 2023 was wind and storms, which caused 4.9 million cubic metres of timber harvest. In the previous year, 12.4 million cubic metres of damaged timber was caused by storm damage.

Declining spruce timber harvest continues
The timber harvest for the group of wood species 'Spruce, Fir, Douglas Fir, and other softwood' in 2023 was significantly lower at 46.6 million cubic metres compared to the previous year's value of 52.8 million (-11.7%). Despite the recent decline, this group of wood species remained the most important in Germany in 2023, accounting for nearly two-thirds (66.0%) of the total timber harvest. In 2022, the share was 67.1%, and in previous years, it was even higher at 74.8% (2021) and 77.3% (2020). Spruce stands, which were often planted as monocultures in the past, were particularly heavily damaged by bark beetles in recent years (especially 2020 and 2021). The reduced amounts of insect-damaged timber also reflect the declining Spruce harvest.

Wood increasingly used for energy generation
The majority of harvested wood is used as so-called stem wood in the sawmill and veneer industry, such as pallet or parquet wood. In 2023, 39.1 million cubic metres of wood was harvested for this purpose, accounting for 55.4% of the total wood volume harvested. The second most significant wood type was industrial wood with 14.1 million cubic metres (20.0%), closely followed by energy wood with 14.0 million cubic metres (19.9%).

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