Ulrich van Roje, managing director of the 500,000m3 a year I van Roje & Sohn mill business, acknowledged that German timber producers are currently facing the same log supply shortages dogging the industry worldwide. “This issue will be with us for years,” he said. “Forests don’t grow that quickly and new supplies are difficult to find.”

But despite this, he maintained, the German sawmill sector is optimistic and looking to increase its international profile.

“It is not widely known what a major timber producer we are,” he said. “In fact, one-third of Germany is under forest and our standing timber stock, which is increasing 2-3% annually, is 3.4 billion m3, bigger than Sweden’s or Finland’s.”

German forestry has also taken certification seriously, with 7.2 million ha of woodlands certified under the PEFC and 565,000ha under the FSC scheme.

Germany’s roundwood harvest last year was 57 million m3 and its 2,400 mills produced 21 million m3 of sawn softwood.

According to Mr van Roje, sawmills invested heavily to boost efficiency during Germany’s economic downturn and are well placed to capitalise on its recovery. But in the same period they also increased exports, and this trend was set to continue.

“In 1995 exports were 10% of turnover, today they represent 30%,” he said, adding that around 25% of van Roje’s overseas sales are now to the UK.