Industrial use of forest as sawn goods and paper began in Finland in the late 19th century. A century ago, forest industry products made up 80% of Finnish exports. Today forestry and the forest industry make up about 5% of Finland's gross domestic product, and approximately 20% of Finnish exports. High-quality printing and writing paper make up over 40% of the total export value of forest industry products, while sawn goods and wood-based panels account for some 20% of export value.
Finland is among the major supplier of forest related products to the world markets, particularly in printing and writing paper. It is also one of the biggest importers of roundwood.
The European Union is the most important customer region for Finnish forest-industries' products. Some 60% of Finnish exports go to EU countries, mainly to Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain. Other European countries account for 10% of forest industry exports, and the rest of the world 30%.
Employment in forestry and forest industries
Forestry employed 23 000 people in 2011, compared with 63 000 in 1980. The same decreasing trend applies to the basic forest industries: They employed 120 000 people in 1980, but only 52 000 in 2011. However, the paper production has more than doubled during the same period. Consequently, forestry and forest industries, even during a boom, have no direct ameliorating effect on Finland's chronic unemployment problem (9,2% in June 2014).