Wood is a strategic natural resource in Poland and the forestry-wood sector is an economy flagship, frequently described as a “Polish intelligent specialization” – a priority area in terms of economic and scientific potential.
Poland’s forestry and raw material resources are considerable on a European and global scale. Its large area of forests (7th place in the European Union), rich raw material base (4th place) and a relatively large wood production volume (5th place) – all put Poland among the major producers of not only the European, but also the global wood market. Last but not least, Polish forestry is held in high esteem in Europe for the sustainable use and rational management of its resources.
The development potential of the Polish forestry-wood sector is reflected by its strong position among the biggest players in Europe and across the world with regards wood product manufacturing. Poland is one of the world’s leaders in terms of furniture production (6th position globally and 3rd in Europe) and wood-based panel manufacturing (7th largest global producer and 2nd European). The production potential of the forestry-wood sector also allows effective expansion on the international markets. Poland’s furniture exports account for 6% of the world’s furniture exports (4th place in the world and 3rd in the European Union). Within Europe, Poland is a major exporter of fibreboard, mainly wet-process porous board (1st place).
Poland has been increasing its forest area (9.2 million ha) and resources (2.5 billion m3). Forests cover 30% of the country and the ratio of hectares of forest per capita is 0.24. Polish forests are the primary source of wood for the domestic wood industry; wood supply is largely independent of foreign trade. Polish wood harvesting amounts to 40-42 million m3 of wood annually (2014-2016), mainly from public forests (96%). The species structure of removals is dominated by softwood (75%), and 88% of raw wood material is destined for industrial processing, of which 53% is pulpwood, and 47% saw logs and veneer logs. In 2015 more than 6% of harvested wood was exported, while wood imports in relation to removals amounted to around 6%.
The wood sector, i.e. wood processing-based industries, is an important element of the Polish economy with a 2% share of GDP, 3.3% of global production of Poland, and a 2.2% of gross added value (2015-2016). The sector represents more than 62,000 business entities, mainly small and very small wood companies (92% – especially in the sawmilling and furniture industries).
The extremely diverse Polish wood sector generates 9% of the value of commercial production and creates 12% of jobs in industry as a whole. The furniture industry, often called a driver of Poland’s economic development, is a flagship industry representing 35% of commercial production, 49% of employment, and 41% of business entities. In fact, furniture-making has been granted the status of a national “industrial specialization” and stands out among the national industries that have already become or may become leaders in the global market. In terms of its development, the wood sector, as well as the Polish economy, relies largely on industries such as pulp and paper, paper processing, wood-based panels and carpentry and joinery for buildings.
The wood sector is one of the few in Poland that has been characterized by a positive trade balance for many years, thus mitigating Poland’s foreign trade deficit. The sector’s share of national exports is 9% and imports is 4% (2015-2016), while around 70% of wood is exported in the form of high value-added products, where furniture is one of the major commodity groups (with a 5% share in total value of Polish exports). Poland’s foreign trade in wood and wood products is focused on the European market, which receives 83% of Polish wood and wood products, while at the same time almost 82% of wood and wood products imported to Poland come from the European Union.
The forestry-wood sector in Poland is also of great social importance as a stimulus to local development and entrepreneurship, primarily in less-developed regions.