With a third of the country covered in forests and half of a million cubic metres of wood produced every year, Luxembourg is a key regional player in the wood industry.
Like much of Western Europe, Luxembourg was once mostly covered by sprawling forests. Efforts to regulate logging began as early as 1840, when the Luxembourg Administration of Nature and Forests (L’administration luxembourgeoise de la nature et des forêts) was created. Since then, forests have been largely preserved and restored, and timber harvesting is carried out with an eye for allowing forests to replenish themselves. Vast swaths of the country are covered by trees, accounting for 92,000 hectares of wooded land, or roughly a third of the entire area of the country. Thanks to this, the country has a sizable wood sector that employs 11,000 people, or nearly 2.5 percent of the workforce.
While the wood sector is spread across the country and accounts for no less than five percent of employment in any one region, it’s most heavily concentrated in the north. Nearly a quarter of jobs in the northern-most commune, Clervaux, are in the wood industry. Unsurprisingly, it’s in this part of the country where forests are densest and where most of the timber harvesting occurs. Hardwoods such as beech and oak make up 64 percent of wooded lands, while softwoods like spruces, pine trees, and other conifers make up the rest. Overall, timber harvesting accounts for five percent of the employment in the wood sector. About half of all wood harvested is sent to be processed for particle board, paper, or other products, while the rest is divided nearly equally between usage in construction and crafts and energy production.
By far the largest segment of the wood sector is not in harvesting timber, but in lumber industries. Nearly half (47 percent) of the sector is composed of skilled crafts, while 25 percent is carpentry and wood construction, and seven percent of the sector is made up of architecture or consultancy firms specialising in wood. Modern composite materials such as concrete still dominate construction, but wood still plays an important role. Between the years 2013 and 2016, wood construction accounted for 6.9 percent of overall construction in Luxembourg, and there is growing renewed interest in wood for its durability, aesthetic appeal, and low environmental impact. The wood processing and materials sector is dominated by small firms, and many of them are family-run businesses that have been in operation for generations. Of the estimated 1,500 wood-involved firms in Luxembourg, three-quarters of them have fewer than 10 employees.