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 Germany to log 71 million cubic meters in 2023
[April 17, 2024]

Logging in German forests fell significantly in 2023

Less damaged wood, less spruce, more energy wood.
A total of 70.6 million cubic metres (m3) of wood was felled in German forests in 2023. This means that logging was 10.3% lower than in the previous year (2022: 78.7 millioncubic metres). According to the Federal Statistical Office, the main reason for this decline was lower logging due to forest damage.

6 million m3 less damaged timber
At 38.7 millionm3, 13.2% less damaged timber was felled in 2023 than in the previous year (2022: 44.7 millionm3). Following the record year of 2020, when the largest volume of damaged timber was recorded since the beginning of the time series in 1990 at 60.1 millionm3, the volume of damaged timber fell for the third time in a row.
In 2023, just over half (54.9 %) of the timber harvested was attributable to forest damage, the lowest figure since 2018. In 2020, damaged timber still accounted for almost three quarters (74.8 %) of total timber harvested.

Insect infestation remains the main cause of damaged timber
In 2023, 27.2 million m3 of damaged timber was felled due to insect damage. This was 2.6 % more than in the previous year (2022: 26.6 millionm3). However, the two record years of 2020 and 2021, which were both characterised by damage caused by bark beetle infestation, with over 40 millionm3 of insect wood each, were significantly undercut. The share of insect-related damaged timber in total damaged timber was 70.3 % in 2023.

The second most common cause of damaged timber in 2023 was winds and storms, which caused 4.9 million m3 of felling. In the previous year, this figure was 12.4 million m3.

Decline in spruce logging continues
At 46.6 millionm3, the volume of wood harvested from the "spruce, fir, Douglas fir and other coniferous wood" species group in 2023 was significantly lower than the previous year's figure of 52.8 millionm3 ( -11.7 %). In 2020 and 2021, more than 62 millionm3 of this wood species group, which mainly consists of spruce, was harvested in each year.

Despite the further decline, this wood species group remained the most important in Germany in 2023 with a share of almost two thirds (66.0 %) of total wood felling. In 2022, the share was 67.1 % and in the previous years even 74.8 % (2021) and 77.3 % (2020).

The spruce stands, which were often planted as a monoculture in the past, were particularly badly damaged by the bark beetle in recent years (especially in 2020 and 2021). The lower quantities of insect-damaged wood therefore also reflect the declining spruce stock.

More and more energy wood
The majority of the wood harvested is used as so-called trunk wood in the sawmill and veneer industry, for example as construction timber, pallet wood or parquet wood. In 2023, 39.1 millionm3, or 55.4 % of the wood volume harvested, was harvested for the utilisation of logs.

The second most important type of wood was industrial wood with 14.1 millionm3 (20.0 %), closely followed by energy wood with 14.0 millionm3 (19.9 %). The previous record for energy wood since German reunification in 1990 was achieved in 2022 with 13.8 millionm3. It rose again by 1.4 % in 2023. The ten-year average for the years 2013 to 2022 (10.9 millionm3 of energy wood) was exceeded by 28.5 %.

Source: forstpraxis.de