Economic performance of wood harvests
The indicator provides information about the profitability of wood harvests and compares the revenues to the costs of the second production level (harvest revenues minus costs). This figure is decisive in covering other structural costs and determining the final economic performance of forest management. In this regard, securing the economic aspect of sustainability is a key condition for all the indispensable services that are provided by effective and efficient forest management and benefit society, the environment and the economy. To that end, the Confederation provides data on the structure, profitability and natural production bases. These data are not collected in small public and private forests.
The economic situation of the Swiss forestry sector is difficult, as forestry operations have yielded negative wood harvest results since 2012. Current economic trends such as falling wood prices, continuously high costs, decreasing federal, cantonal and communal financial resources, and rising demand by the population are stretching the management strategy used until now to its limits. The current system will therefore only be able to finance its goals (e.g. operational performance, services, productive employees, etc.) and socio-economic (e.g. protection against natural hazards, biodiversity, etc.) and private-sector (e.g. wood production) services to a limited degree in the long term. As an internationally traded product, there is a limit to how much wood harvests can be improved. In contrast, efforts are being made to reduce costs (e.g. use of more rational working methods and cooperation between owners) through forestry sector measures and federal government support in the context of national fiscal equalisation.
As part of the DACH initiative, the forestry sector test networks of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are compared continuously on the basis of standardised benchmarks and conclusions are drawn. The data can be compared with other statistics only to a limited degree due to varying definitions.
Observational samples are recorded at 160 public forestry operations in the forestry zones of the Jura, Central Plateau, Pre-Alps and Alps (including Southern Alps). The goal of the survey is to develop a detailed portrait of the economic situation of these forestry operations and draw conclusions for the entire industry. In its current design, the test network provides representative figures for operations in each forestry zone and for Switzerland as a whole. In addition, some cantons perform their own analyses, which they use for aggregations at the cantonal level. The key instrument, known as “ForstBAR”, is cost and activity accounting software that was specially designed for Swiss forestry.