Eastern Europe is emerging as the next centre for sawmilling, buoyed by lower material and labour costs.

In an interview in industry newsletter Random Lengths, Austrian sawmill owner Gerald Schweighofer predicts that industries in Scandinavia and Central Europe will suffer and many small sawmills will shut down as eastern Europe expands its operations.

Mr Schweighofer is building a new sawmill in Romania with a potential annual capacity of 200,000m3. He said he started his search for the best site, raw material supplies, labour and shipping facilities in the Baltics, working his way through Poland, Belarus and the Ukraine before settling on Romania from where he intends to produce for global markets, including the US.

Forecasting difficulties to come in Scandinavia he said Finland will suffer from a shortage of logs while Sweden will be affected by expensive labour costs. This, he said, will force producers to move towards production of laminated beams and other engineered wood products if they are to remain competitive in the next 10 years.