Prime timber auction fetches EUR 2 million
Like in the previous years the sycamore maple, also dubbed as Slovenia's ebony, fetched the highest bids.
A 100-year old log cut in the woods below Mount Snežnik in the south of the country was sold to a German buyer for EUR 29,160 or EUR 14,414 per cubic metre, which the organizers described as an absolute record.
"It's like winning the lottery," Helena Jaksetič, the owner's daughter, told reporters at the conclusion of the auction on Wednesday, adding that this was the first time they took part.
The auction, touted as Europe's largest, saw 865 owners offer 6,620 logs or nearly 7,000 cubic metres of wood, a record amount since the first such auction in the Koroško region.
The buyers, 43 of them, come from seven countries, said Jože Jeromel from the local forest owners association, which organizes the auction with the Slovenian Forest Owners' Association and the Slovenia Forest Service.
The second-highest bid was also for sycamore maple tree. An Italian buyer offered EUR 29,130 for a log cut in the nearby Pohorje hills by a local form Podgorje near Slovenj Gradec, or EUR 12,009 per m3.
Other types of wood also attracted high bids. "This means that we grow a lot of quality wood in Slovenian forests," said Jeromel.
Most timber, as much as 1,700 m3, was auctioned off to a buyer from China through intermediaries. Chinese buyers are looking mainly for oak, maple and ash, which they use to make parquet and solid wood furniture.
Italian and German buyers are mostly interested only in top-quality wood. They use sycamore maple wood mainly for veneers for yachts, cars and musical instruments.
The auction was held for the first time at Podgorje near Slovenj Gradec, after the nearby location at Ozare had become too small.
However, even the new location is too small, so new options are being sought. Outgoing Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec said the ministry was willing to lend a hand within its means.
Asked what Slovenia would do to prevent such large quantities of quality wood exported, the minister said the ministry was pushing for development of the forestry-to-wood processing chain and restoring furniture industry.
Early data from the Forestry Service show that a total of 5.3 million cubic metres of wood were felled in Slovenia last year, which compares to about six million in the previous years.