ORSIAD: What can you tell us about 2013 in terms of our industry in general?


“2013 was an important year for the world’s forest products sector and, specifically, for US hardwood production, consumption and trade. The US domestic market showed solid signs of recovery, while some key markets in the European Union reached their lowest point and started to show growth, albeit small, for the first time since the Global Financial Crisis. This led to increased uptake of American hardwoods in furniture, flooring and joinery manufacturing across all regions, which benefited US hardwood producers considerably.

US hardwoods aside, 2013 was also a good year for wood in general. More architects and designers turned to timber than ever before and we started to see wood being used in applications that would, normally, feature alternative materials. Some of this change was due to new technologies being developed in the wood sector, which have allowed wood products suppliers to explore new market opportunities within established markets.”


ORSIAD: What are your expectations for 2014?


“It is anticipated that 2014 will show more of what we have seen this year, in terms of both growth in the forest products sector and increased uptake of wood products in applications. Markets in the EU are expected to pick up further through 2014, while the US economy will remain well on the road to recovery. At the same time, strong economic growth and construction levels will be seen in the Middle East and Africa, as well as in Asia.

Specifically for US hardwoods, we expect to see wider acceptance in Green Building Rating systems and environmental procurement policies, due to the release of our unique tool, which offers consignment-based American Hardwood Environmental Profiles (AHEPs). We also expect to see architects and manufacturers exploring new technologies offered by US hardwoods, such as American tulipwood in cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels for construction, as well as thermally modified US hardwood species for external cladding and decking applications. We also anticipate seeing increased exports to most major market regions around the world and especially to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and China.”


ORSIAD: Do you have any message for the sector?


“The wood products sector is, typically, made up by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and this is both strength and a weakness. The latter is true because it means that industry bodies or associations are an absolute necessity for the industry to make itself heard. It makes it harder for important environmental and technical messages to be told and for wood to compete on the same basis as alternative materials, such as aluminium, steel and concrete. Wood is, probably, the most environmentally friendly material the world has to offer and it is absolutely key that this message (and all the supporting science) is delivered as far and as wide as possible. It is crucial that all companies in the sector work together to get this message heard.”



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