The 17th annual auction of valuable timber in Slovenj Gradec in the north of the country saw an estimated €4.5 million worth of logs change hands. The log that fetched the highest price was sold to Italy.
The auction attracted 1,019 sellers, who put a total of 9,566 logs measuring a combined 9,720 cubic metres up for sale in what is the biggest amount yet.
Most of the sellers came from Slovenia, some from Austria and Croatia and for the first time the auction featured Hungarian forest owners.
Addressing reporters at the conclusion of the auction on 15 March, the organisers said they did not expect such a large quantity of timber, and had to find extra space, apart from the dedicated eight-hectare plot.
Bids were submitted by 53 buyers, a bit fewer than last year. Most, 20, were from Slovenia, followed by buyers from Austria, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Czechia and Switzerland.
The Austrian company Wibeba was the biggest single buyer, purchasing more than a thousand cubic metres of timber, Jože Jeromel of the local association of forest owners, said.
There were quite a few new bidders, but two foreign buyers, from China and Turkey, were deterred because the auction had to be postponed by a month due to unseasonably mild weather in January.
Unlike last year’s auction, this one did not see price records. Like in the years ahead, the quilted sycamore maple, also referred to as Slovenian ebony, attracted the highest bids.
The most valuable log went for €23,490 or €14,960 per cubic metre, which is just half what it fetched last year, Jeromel said.
Meanwhile, other types of trees did fetch record bids, including oak, spruce and larch. A spruce log from the Slovenj Gradec area was auctioned off for €9,000 or €1,530 per cubic metre.
Most of the timber on auction was oak, totalling over 5,000 cubic metres. It was also the top selling type of wood this year.
The organisers and the local authorities are looking for a suitable space for such a big event, with solid access tracks for trucks, which would allow them to hold auction whatever the weather.
The first auction featured 890 logs, which has since increased more than ten-fold.
The organisers estimate the proceeds at around €4.5 million as quite some timber has not been sold. A good 3,000 cubic metres are now being offered in the second round of auction with interest expressed by buyers from Slovenia and abroad.
Apart from the local forest owners’ association, the auction is organised by the Slovenian Forest Owners’ Association and the Slovenia Forest Service.