Forestry and Wood Processing in Slovenia: Gradual Economic Recovery
Slovenia ranks third (after Finland and Sweden) in forest coverage among the EU member states. Forests cover over 60% of its territory. However, the Slovenes not always optimally use this gift of nature given to them in abundance.
Most of the timber is exported in the form of timber logs. Today the Slovenes have virtually no other choice. After all, since 1991 the majority of the wood processing companies in Slovenia have been closed. According to expert estimates, more than 20 once major companies in this industry were closed around Slovenia. More than three years ago, the Government identified as a strategic objective the revival of industrial forestry and woodworking and set a target up to 2020 to engage in this area more than 22,000 employees. However, no tangible success has been reached in this field within three years. In better times, 40,000 people were working in the area of industrial forest management and wood processing in Slovenia, and today this figure is just about 10,000.
For the last decade, such companies as KLI Logatec, Javor Pivka, LIKO Vrhnika and Brest Cerknica have been closed on the territory of the Inner Carniola region (Notranjska in Slovenian). The scenarios of closing the once successful companies are similar: a narrow circle of people tried to make a fortune using illegal privatization. They took out loans and made the companies responsible for their repayment. The lack of a strategic vision in leaders led to the fact that the funds were not invested in the modernization of production. As a result, wood industry failed to keep pace with the times and could not compete.
However, the things are not that bad. In the municipality of Kočevje (Občina Kočevje in Slovenian), the profile companies are gradually boosting their business. The export of timber from Kočevje shortens, while the interest of young people in the profession of a woodcarving craftsman grows. The municipal company “Kočevski Les” established more than a year ago gave a great impetus to the development of the region. It is expected to cooperate with private companies working in the field of forestry and wood processing and purchase local wood from them.
In the next three years, it is planned to launch 20 new enterprises and create over 200 new job positions just in the Kočevje region.