Together with the wood, paper and board industries, forestry plays an important role in the Austrian economy. In 2012 the forestry sector accounted for only around 1.8% of GDP, and in absolute terms the gross value added amounted to 5 billion euros. However, with a foreign trade surplus of 3.69 billion euros, the export of forest-based goods greatly contributes to Austrian foreign trade. Together, the forest and wood-based sectors employ approximately 300,000 people.
Using wood, a renewable raw material that is produced through sustainable forest management, creates a positive impact on climate protection and on the green economy, strengthening Austria’s position as an attractive business location. Today, approximately 38 million m³ of wood are processed in Austria per year, of which some 10 million m³ are imported. The main consumers of timber are the sawing, paper and board industries. Over recent years wood has become more and more used to generate energy.
Training in forestry is oriented towards the concept of sustainable, multifunctional forest management, as well as towards job opportunities for its graduates in the different fields of production. It takes into account national and international education strategies. Austrian forest expertise is appreciated and in demand all over the world. After some years with numbers declining, the intake of students is steadily growing in the field of forestry and wood technology.
In Austria, about 830,000 hectares of forest are located in areas identified under nature conservation laws; this corresponds to 21.5% of the total forest area in the country. Almost one fifth of the Austrian forest area is regarded as “protective forests” which means they provide protection for elements such as roads, cables and pipes, as well as soil and water.
The objective of Austria’s foreign policy is to promote the breakthrough of sustainable forest management principles, if possible, throughout the world. Austria proactively participates in the process of shaping international forest policy, in particular in the United Nations Forum on Forests, the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and in the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (Forest Europe).