On the 12 th of October 2023 the 71st edition of the International Softwood Conference was held at the Hilton Vienna Park. The Conference was hosted by the Fachverband der Holzindustrie Österreichs, which co-organized the event with the two usual partners: the European Organization of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) and the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF).
The event drew many participants as 333 people attended the Conference in the Austrian capital – a record-breaking audience – coming from over 30 countries all over the world.
The conference was opened by a session focused on the availability of raw materials, which was not the main concern for the industry in 2023 but remains a vital question amid a changing forest due to climate change and forest policies playing a bigger role both at state and at European level. Sami Pastila of AFRY showed that the Northern Hemisphere will keep driving the availability of raw materials in the softwood industry, with growth opportunities in the US South. A steady supply is expected in Europe but with regional differences. Silvio Schüler of the BFW – Austrian Forest Research Centre – stated that the growing stocks of conifers in Europe are still high but increasingly subjected to climate risk and long-term availability of softwood resources needs an adapted management.
Herbert Jöbstl, President of EOS, emphasized that we do not have to narrowly focus on the availability of logs only, but the industry has to improve efficiency for instance when it comes to logs’ yield, and wood reusability and recyclability. Information-packed sessions about the market trends were followed with attention by the audience.
While previous years since the beginning of the pandemic were characterized by extraordinary
volatility but good profitability for many sawmills across Europe, in particular 2021, this year the softwood markets have disappointed traders and sawmillers alike on the back of the slowdown already started in the second half of 2022. The downturn can be compared to the one that affected the industry 15 years ago during the global financial crisis.
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The next edition of the International Softwood conference will take place in Taormina, Italy in October 2024. For more information and the presentations soon to be uploaded, please visit the website https://isc2023.com