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In Hungary - sustainable forestry meets economy


“In fact, around 90% of the forests we look after are reforested in a natural way,” says General Director László Varga. “We mirror the natural processes and act absolutely environmentally friendly with a long-term perspective. The State expects us to implement environmentally friendly and sustainable silvi-culture in the area and to professionally manage all areas and sites under conservation. We also develop the forests for people’s welfare. We open them up to hikers, bikers, riders and other public purposes. We want our locals and also the tourists to like our forests. We believe that eco-tourism is an important part of our future. Only recently, we invested around 85 million HUF in the Blue Tour, a new path for tourists. In Keszthely, we run a zoo with local animals, which is a well-frequented tourist spot. Last year, we had around 15,000 visitors. The zoo is an integral part of the touristic development of the Balaton area. This year, we are going to open up an information center about animals living in the forest. We also take care of the lookout Òvár in Szigliget. We operate three forestry schools at Lake Balaton, too. Here, young people get to know the forests and get a first impression of the work of rangers. They learn to take responsibility for our environment. You see, our scope of operations is not the typical one of forestry.”

Another integral part of the company’s business is the production of parquet. “Our parquet factory is an important growth driver for us,” says Mr. Varga. “In 2009, we produced around 319,000 m² of parquet; in 2010 we increased our capacities to 511,000 m², in 2011 to even 634,000 m². Last year, we produced around 673,000 m² of parquet, of which we sold more than 660,000 m². Between 2009 and today, the parquet factory managed to grow its revenues by almost ten million EUR. In the last two years, we made major investments of more than three million EUR without any bank loans. Primarily, we invested in machines, equipment and continuous innovation.”

Bakonyerdő offers between 20,000 and 22,000 saw mill products made of oak or beech. The wood comes from the company’s own forests or from reliable partner companies. The umbrella of Bakonyerdő also integrates the Tapolca Zalahaláp parquet factory, which was already founded back in the 1980s. Under the label Befag Parkett, the company offers three-layer timber parquet of premium quality.

The company offers a wide product selection. All the parquets have three layers. The lower and medium layers are usually made of pine, but are also available in other types of wood. Around 70% of all products are made of oak, followed by ash, beech, maple and Turkish oak. All the colours are very natural. Of course, the company adapts its product program to current fashion and furnishing trends.

“We see great development potential in the saw mill and timber industry,” says the general director. “Here, our goal for the coming years will be to develop competitive products and to safeguard jobs. We always have an eye on the big European players in the sawmill industry and in the timber and parquet production. We also joined the European association of parquet producers.”

The strategy seems to be paying off. Bakonyerdő has been enjoying continuous growth rates through the last years. In 2012, the company achieved an annual turnover of around 30 million EUR, of which over 53.6% came from export activities.

Besides Hungary, the company sells its products to clients all over Europe. The main markets are Austria, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. The management of the company thinks that the countries of the former Soviet Union are also interesting and are highly promising markets for the future.

Bakonyerdő was founded in 1970 by two forestries and a sawmill. In 1993, the firm was transformed into a corporation with a closed shareholders’ group. Since 2001, the company has been operating under its current name Bakonyerdő Zrt. “Bakony” is the beautiful hill and mountain landscape on the northern shore of Lake Balaton while “erdő” means forest.

Today, the company is 100% owned by the state but has to compete on the open market. Altogether, Bakonyerdő has 62.41 km² of forest area distributed over three Hungarian counties.

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“We believe that our combination of forestry work and wood processing is a successful future path,” says Mr. Varga. “This way, we are closely connected to our nature and can ensure ideal protection and growth. At the same time, we have the know-how to produce top material and to carry out efficient products. We will drive the reforestation of our forests at a high level of expertise. Speaking of our parquet business, we will continue to invest in new technologies. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal. In the coming four to five years, we want to enhance the efficiency of our sawmill in order to be able to sell 1.2 to 1.5 million m² of parquet. We know this is an ambitious goal, but we believe that we can reach it.”

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