The continued favourable development of the world economy in the second quarter of 2004 was reflected in an increase in sawn wood production in Finland to a total of more than 3.6 million m3, up 2% from last year, according to figures from the Finnish Forest Industries Federation. Production in January to June exceeded 7 million m3, signifying an increase of 1% compared with the year before.

Plywood production totalled 350,000m3 in the second quarter – the same as in the first quarter, with no change from last year.

Finnforest points out that low demand in Europe was the defining feature of the first half of the year, while only modest signs of a revival in the building market were discernable in the second quarter. However, the North American and Asian building markets remained strong for the first half of the year.

Stora Enso reports wood product sales up 12.4% on the previous quarter, mainly because of higher deliveries to the strong US market and new investments in Finland and the Baltics. On the other hand, wood supply sales were down 2.1% and deliveries to the group’s mills were down 3% on the previous quarter, mainly due to seasonal reasons.


UPM reported better profitability for its wood products division and robust demand for spruce plywood. However, sawmilling suffered from oversupply.

UPM has signed an agreement on the sale of the Irish building materials merchant Brooks Group Ltd to Wolseley Group for €213m. The sale is expected to be concluded during the third quarter. The deal is subject to regulatory approval in Ireland. UPM estimates the profit from the sale of this business to be approximately €100m.

With this deal, UPM is implementing its new distribution strategy for the Irish market. “We aim to concentrate on sales to the merchant chains and major industrial end users rather than being a distributor ourselves in the Irish market. UPM intends to maintain a good trading relationship with Brooks under its new ownership,” said Harald Finne, president of the Wood Products Division.

Indufor Oy, an international forest industries and environmental management consulting and advisory company, has been merged with the forest sector arm of Savcor Group Ltd Oy, creating a leading know-how company for the global forest sector. The aim is to integrate Indufor´s globally recognised consulting services with Savcor´s hi-tech in the field of sustainable forestry and forest industry.

Savcor Group CEO Hannu Savisalo said Savcor’s aim was to develop solutions to harmonise economic, ecological and social forest uses to optimise the value of forest resources. “The trade-offs between the competing forest uses can be resolved by means of modern information technology and know-how which is based on international experience,” said Mr Savisalo. “Our new technology facilitates the measurement and monitoring of the environmental and other values of forests. As an example, our wood waste minimising technology is an imperative for sustainable business in the forest industry. The expert services of Indufor complement the technology know-how by Savcor.”

Build Center, part of Wolseley UK, the UK’s largest distributor of construction products and materials, has won a major contract to become sole I-joists supplier to housebuilding company Barratt. Finnforest UK will supply Build Center with Finnjoist, the chosen product and the key component in the Finnframe floor system. The deal will be rolled out nationally and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The work of building the Kärsämäki shingle church in northern Finland, for which UPM has been one of the main sponsors, culminated on July 25 with the ceremonial inauguration of the church by the Bishop of Oulu Samuel Salmi.

Traditional methods

The shingle church, modern in design, has been built as far as possible by traditional 18th century methods – without machines, electricity or concrete. The unhurried building process gave the workers time to concentrate on quality. As well as professionals skilled in traditional building, voluntary workers made a significant contribution to the project. Among other things, they made the 52,000 split aspen shingles by hand for the shingle ‘cloak’ surrounding the church.

“The shingle church project has brought joy to many people,” said Kari Makkonen, senior executive of UPM’s Wood Products. “This cultural project of international importance combines many important aspects of building with wood. The future of the Finnish wood processing industry is based very much on the same elements as those from which the Kärsämäki shingle church is built.”

The church has been erected on the banks of the River Pyhäjoki, on the spot where the old church, demolished in 1841, once stood. The modern wooden church, designed by architect Anssi Lassila, consists of a timber frame forming the heart of the church, enveloped in a tarred cladding of aspen shingles reaching a couple of metres beyond the frame.