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Woodbook Traditional values, smart technologies

The Estonian Forest and Wood Industries’



The Woodworking Industry Development Cluster brings together Estonia’s larger wood industry firms and two of Estonia’s largest universities. The aim of the cluster’s work is to develop Estonia’s wood industry, promoting it abroad and developing international communication. The cluster’s leading partner is the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association (EMPL).

The Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association (EMPL) is a non-profit organisation, which brings together businesses that are primarily associated with wood and forest industries.

The aim of the cluster is to strengthen the international competitiveness of Estonia’s wood industry and the organisations participating in the cluster by

ensuring that the use of all resources is enduring, and that there is an effective environment of activity in the forests;

new market opportunities in foreign markets generated by joint marketing and public relations;

improving the sector’s public reputation;

improvement of knowledge and skills, and increasing productivity: products with higher added value, more comprehensive services, and an assortment of products that is continually being updated. The European Regional Development Fund supports the activities of the cluster for developing the competitiveness of the wood industry through the Enterprise Estonia Cluster Development Programme.

The EMPL works daily with the aim of: making the forest and wood industry sector’s business environment the best that it can be;

fostering the use of wood and promoting awareness of Estonian timber products; assuring the sector’s future development by the existence of quality specialists; representing the interests of its members and disseminating necessary information within the association.




Estonia is a Northern European country. Its territory covers 45,227 km2. The Republic of Estonia is a parliamentary democracy. The largest city is the capital Tallinn. Estonia’s population of 1.29 million is one of the smallest among the EU countries. On 22 September 1921, Estonia joined the League of Nations. Estonia is a member of the United Nations and OSCE since 17 September 1991. It is a member of the World Trade Organisation since 13 November 1999, of NATO since 29 March 2004, of the European Union since 1 May 2004, of the Schengen Area since 21 December 2007, of the OECD since 9 December 2010, and of the eurozone since 1 January 2011. The Estonian currency is the euro. Estonia has signed the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty

aimed at globally reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of the Estonian population are native Estonians (69%), the largest minority being Russians (25%). Estonian wood products are well known on world markets. Estonian forest and wood industry companies deliver their products to all continents. Estonia has always served as a gateway between East and West, and has already witnessed busy trading since the early Middle Ages. Although Estonia is a small country, it has a long coastline and numerous ports which can be used to transport goods anywhere in the world. Estonian ports are among the most northerly in the region that do not freeze in winter.



Estonian culture combines its traditional heritage with the cultural trends of Nordic and other European countries. Throughout history, Estonia has been exposed to cultural influences from all directions. One notable Estonian tradition that has been well preserved to this day is the sauna tradition. As decided at the meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in November of 2014, the Võromaa (Võru County) smoke sauna tradition was inscribed on

the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The erection of dwellings made of round logs hewn by hand has centuries-long traditions in Estonia – Estonian farm houses have been built of local pine and spruce logs through the centuries. Log houses that are over 300 years old have been preserved at the Estonian Open Air Museum. Wooden buildings that are 800 and even 1,000 years old can also be found elsewhere in the Nordic countries.

Estonia has an investment frien dly taxation system, and transparent and functioning legislation. We aim at liberal economic policy where private property is sacred and untouchable, and all entrepreneurs are treated equally. Economic freedom, ease of doing business, per capita investments, record-low national debt, belonging to the euro zone, low corruption index – all these factors show that there is something about Estonia that is worth taking a closer look at. We are like the

Switzerland of the North, only our taxation system is considerably more up-todate and user-friendly. Estonia is characterised by information and communication technology that functions on the grass-roots level and connects the people with the state. We are a country meant for people where systems serve the interest of people and make our lives fast, convenient and safe.


The Estonian environment is rich and diverse. From long sandy beaches to deep forests and numerous moors, nature offers fantastic sights and experiences. Estonia lies on the borderline of northern coniferous and southern deciduous forests. That means Estonian forests are abundant and diverse. Estonian forests are ideal for nature tourism, hiking, tenting or sporting pastimes. Estonia has over 2,000 kilometres of maintained hiking trails.

tification process is in progress. The total area of certified private forests is growing each year and is currently approximately 60% of total forest area. Both FSC and PEFC standards are used for certifying the products of Estonian wood industry companies. The regulations governing forestry and timber trading in Estonia maintain very high requirements with regard to the verifiability of the origin of wood and timber, and the sustainability of Estonian forest management.

Estonia is a land of forests. All together 53% of Estonian land is covered with forests, making forestry and wood processing one of the most important industries in Estonia. At the same time, Estonian forests are among the best protected in Europe. In total, 25% of our forests enjoy some form of protection and 12% are under strict protection (MCPFE class 1.1). The forests are often untouched and offer possibilities for mushrooming, picking wild berries and herbs. The Estonian people have always had a deep connection with nature and especially forests, so the knowledge and habits of using forest goods have been preserved.


Estonian national forests are all FSC and PEFC certified. In private forests, the cer-

Forest land (ha)

Agricultural land

Bogs Strictly protected forestUrban settlements Other land areaforest Managed

Forest land 53%

Urban settlements 4%

Agricultural land 30%

Other land area 8%

Bogs 5%

Forest management and logging are dynamic and well-regulated business sectors in Estonia. Almost half of the forests are public and the rest is private. Forest management and logging are services that both private forest owners and public forest managers usually commission from private companies. The quality of forest management and logging is ensured by strict terms of procurement and high standards for performing the work. The selection of valuable tree species is the most important variable taken into account when

planting future forests. Of the timber produced in Estonian forests, one third is cut up for mechanical processing, another third is used for cellulose and paper production, and the ďŹ nal third is used for energy production. The share of renewable energy production and consumption is increasing well within the parameters established by the European Union. By 2020, renewable energy should account for 25% of energy consumption. Wood biomass takes up the largest share of various sources from which renewable energy is produced in Estonia.


Estonian forest and wood industries are characterised by two important keywords:



Long traditions. Timber products have historically been a very important export for Estonia. The wood industry has been the crucial engine driving the Estonian economy. Estonian timber companies export a wide range of dierent product groups, among which the most prominent include dimensional lumber, various elements for construction and furniture manufacturers, and modular buildings. The selection of exported products has improved over the last decade by constantly including more products with higher value. The strengths of Estonian manufacturers include client-based solutions, exible sales and marketing arrangements.


Innovative and rapid development during the past 25 years. The so-called Greenfield investments have played an important role in the development of the Estonian wood industry during the last decades, allowing it to become a hightech industry which responds very well to the market’s needs with regard to the quality of products and security of supply. The forest and wood sector also provides jobs for about 36,000 people in Estonia. This sector is particularly important as an employer in rural areas, where wood industry enterprises are also primarily located. The gross wages of people working in the wood industry are also higher than average wages in the manufacturing and process industries.

Wood based products export value




2% 2% 2%

Wooden package Veneer Plywood


Unbleached paper Termomechanical pulp



Continuously shaped wood Roundwood


Pellets Sawn wood Wooden furniture Wooden construction details



Wooden buildings

7% 13%

The strengths of the Estonian forest and wood industries include:

production of glue laminated timber and impregnated wood products;

Wood in our climatic zone is slowly grown and hence has excellent strength characteristics

Wood fuel products. Estonia is one of the world’s leading producers of pellets and the Estonian pellet producer – Graanul Invest is the biggest in Europe.

Well-developed mechanical processing of wood and numerous Greenfield investments:

Important product groups in the production of cellulose:

production and further processing of sawn timber;

bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp

production of plywood and veneer;

virgin unbleached sack kraft paper

production of prefabricated timber buildings. Estonia is the no. 1 exporter in Europe and one of the world’s leading exporters of timber buildings;


Training in all aspects of forestry and wood technologies already starts in early childhood and continues throughout life. Specialised vocational and higher education can be acquired at several universities and vocational education institutions. These include the Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Luua Forestry School and Võru County Vocational Training Centre.


Students come to study forestry and wood processing because their future occupation is interesting and profitable, and ensures diverse work. It is also not of little importance that the work offered in the industry will not end in the future. As a country rich in forests, Estonia is a place where forestry occupations are held in esteem.

The Estonian University of Life Sciences offers higher education in forestry and the wood industry at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. In addition to forestry specialists, wood processing technicians, automation and control engineers, mechatronics engineers, production managers and project designers are trained at this university in a total of eight study programmes. Materials technicians and civil engineers are trained at the Tallinn University of Technology.

Luua Forestry School provides vocational education in forestry in Estonia. Luua Forestry School offers several forestry specialties but in short, it can be said that foresters and machinists study here. Joiners and circular saw and spindle moulder operators are trained at the Võrumaa Vocational Education Centre.



Estonia has long traditions in wood architecture. Before the Second World War, almost all buildings were made of wood. Unfortunately, during the Soviet period, only concrete and brick solutions were developed, which led to a lack of skills in designing wooden houses after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In order to modernise competence in Estonian wood architecture, the

Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association has been actively promoting wood construction among architects by awarding the best designs and organising events. Nowadays Estonia has become the biggest wooden house exporter in Europe and our companies are involved in building the tallest and most complex wooden houses in the region.

The Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association annually organises the largest wooden architecture and construction conference with more than 400 guests. We bring together top architects and engineers from around the world to present the best and latest practices in wood construction. The event has also proven to be popular among visitors from neighbouring countries.


Estonia is famous for its e-solutions and digitalisation. There are abundant examples of the digital revolution in the Estonian forestry and wood industry.


When logging work is completed in the forest, the transportation of the forest material to wood industries begins. The load of logs loaded onto a lorry, however, must first be measured before the lorry sets off. This can be done on-site using a smart phone application – Timbeter. The driver takes a photograph of the load using a smart phone and the app calculates the load’s measurement data on the basis of the picture.

Before driving off, the lorry driver draws up a paperless e-waybill document in his smart phone. The e-waybill is an important electronic document that is accessible and needed by the owner of the forest material, the customer and the transportation company. Estonia’s supervisory officials can electronically check the e-waybill at any time. When the load arrives at its destination, it is necessary to precisely measure the load once again. Upon arrival at the factory of Europe’s largest pellet producer – Graanul Invest – each load passes through fully automated precision measurement. In order to obtain the results of the measurement, the lorry drives through gates equipped with sensors that scan a 3D image of the load

into a computer. The volume of the load is then calculated on this basis. E-solutions are also being applied ever more actively in production processes in Estonia. For instance, in one of Europe’s most modern sawmills – Toftan – innovative e-solutions are used in sorting logs and finding the most optimal angle for sawing a log. On the extremely fast log sorting line (up to 50 logs per minute), every log is scanned and measured separately in a 3D log scanner with an accuracy of 1 mm. Proceeding to the sawing line, the best sawing position is found using a 3D scanner, thus maximising the outcome of each separate shaped log. This all makes it possible to follow and direct the route of each log by computer through to the final product.

These are but a few examples of how successfully digital solutions have been applied in the Estonian wood industry. Estonia’s wood industry has stably invested over the past twenty years in both boosting volume and modern technology. The focus of the investments of recent years has shifted from boosting volume towards resource effectiveness, conservational production and creating increased added value. Industries apply better technologies and processes in order to ensure the effective use of natural resources, quality products and flexibility for customers.


Since the 1990s, Estonian sawmills and planing mills have undergone significant development. Production volume of finished dimensional timber, which in 1995 totalled 353,000 cubic metres, has now increased to 2.6 million cubic metres in 2017. Estonian sawmills and planing mills constitute a very rapidly and successfully developing industry that is characterised by the efficiency of manufacturing processes, a high level of automation and numerous IT applications.


Further processing of timber has seen even more rapid development in recent years, which has significantly increased the added value of the products. Planing mills produce a diverse selection of products, such as planed all round wood, profile boards, structural details for buildings, for window and door manufacturers and for furniture makers. In order to ensure the highest quality, companies carry out regular testing of their products. In addition, products are also tested in accredited laboratories both in Estonia and abroad.

Estonia’s producers of wooden houses are first rate and they participate in the construction of large-scale, complicated projects in Scandinavia as well as in more distant regions. A 14-storey wooden apartment building in Norway, various hospitals, etc. are among the more remarkable references. In order to continue developing competence in this field, Estonia’s wood industry enterprises have set about applying the newest technologies in manufacturing laminated timber, including cross-laminated

timber. As pioneers, they experiment with innovative solutions in their own buildings in order to ensure thoroughly tested, safe solutions for their customers.


The collaborative eort of designers, product developers, and technology specialists allows Estonian companies to create glued and bent veneer and plywood products that will set new trends in the industry. Estonian birch veneer is of high repute among leading furniture manufactures.


In the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement, Estonia and all the rest of Europe have adopted ambitious objectives in using renewable energy. Alongside solar and wind energy, biomass is seen as the most important source of energy. Biomass plays an especially important role in regions where the production of heating energy is necessary in addition to electric power.

Thanks to developed wood industry, it has been possible in Estonia to put to use the waste from cutting timber in forestry as well as the production residue of industry, and to generate half of the required heating energy and 5% of renewable electric power with the help of wood biomass. This has made it possible to oer this option to our customers as well through the large-scale export of pellets.


The impregnation of wood in Estonia is at a high level of quality. The newest technologies and impregnating substances that are environmentally conservational are used here. The impregnation of wood using hot oil is one of the most contemporary methods. Hot-oil treatment of wood is an autoclave method whereby heated natural linseed oil is impregnated into the wood under vacuum pressure. This kind of treatment provides terrace boards or weatherboards with water-repellent properties; UV protection;


stable form, protection against wood-decay fungus;

environmentally friendly properties as the process retains the original structure of the wood; the option of staining using various water-proof tones such as golden brown, brown, dark brown, or black. Thermal-oil treatment is possible with all kinds of wood materials: weatherboards; terrace boards; garden furniture; ďŹ r, pine, and hardwood; thermal wood, larch, tropical wood, etc.

Photos: Tõnu Runnel (p. 6, 14, 19) EAS Kaupo Kalda (p. 4) EAS Creative Union (p. 10) EAS Shutterstock (p. 2, 7, 22, 23, covers) Raul Mee Keit Kangro Tõnu Eller Toomas Kelt Heikko Kallakas The typeface Aino was created by Anton Koovit (EAS) Woodbook designed and printed by Ecoprint AS



Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association Telliskivi 60, Tallinn 10412, phone: +372 656 7643 e-mail: info@empl.ee, www.estoniantimber.ee