From the 17th to the 20th of July, the Interforst forestry show in Munich, Germany took place. 353 exhibitors and 31 000 visitors made it the largest forestry show so far this year. This wasn’t too bad considering that the Elmia Wood show was just a few weeks ago and that 2022 holds many other forestry shows.

Interforst 2022

Still, two of the World’s largest forestry shows lost a great share of their visitors this time. Elmia Wood went from 42 000 visitors in 2017 to 26 000 this year. And the Interforst from 50 000 in 2018 to 31 000. How come?

One possible reason could be that Elmia Wood should have taken place in 2021 but was postponed due to Covid -19 to 2022. Generally, Covid -19 could be blamed for this, hopefully temporary, development. As for Elmia, they can also blame the fact that none of the major forest machine manufacturers turned up at their show.

Interforst 2022 – how was it?

I must confess that I wasn’t there this time. I have been both visitor and exhibitor at the Interforst many times and I know it’s a good show. But I am a forest man and I prefer to go to the forestry fairs located in the forest. After all, Interforst is just a parking lot for forest machines in the city of Munich. A nice one, but still …

From what I have heard and read the show was good also this time even though it lost a vast share of the visitors. One comment was that the need to meet again after the pandemic and its restrictions was obvious.

You can read the press release from Interforst here to find out more.

Interforst 2022

A parking lot for forest machines?
Photo: Interforst

The future of the forestry fairs

As mentioned above, the forestry shows seem to be shrinking. Here in Sweden, the suppliers of the major forest machine brands have decided to make their own show instead of attending at the Elmia Wood. A forestry show at a horse racing track near the capital Stockholm. Yet another “parking lot” for forest machines?

In Great Britain, the suppliers of big forest machines decided that “their” show, the APF show, didn’t offer enough possibilities for demo. So, they created the Scottish Forestry Expo, (before the Swedish Forestry Expo) also a show in the forest but with lots of forest to fell. An interesting difference in thinking between the Swedish and the British suppliers of the same machines.

As I have mentioned before, I used to be involved in the Elmia Wood show. Up to some 10 years ago, that was undisputable the largest (and best?) forestry show in the World. It goes back to the 1970s when the development of CTL, Cut-To-Length, machines took off in Sweden and Finland. Back then, and up to the end of the ‘90s, maybe even a bit longer, forestry people came from all over the World to the Elmia Wood show to see machines they didn’t have at home. There was always news presented at the Elmia shows.

But now (partly thanks to Elmia Wood?) the CTL machines are everywhere in the World. You don’t have to come to Europe to see them. You can go to your local show and see exactly the same machines in the Americas, in Asia, Australia, New Zeeland, or wherever you are.

The development of the CTL machines still takes place mainly in Sweden and Finland. But now the manufacturers are present all over with their machines. So, the need to drag people from all over the World up to northern Europe is gone. And so is the need for one big meeting point for CTL machines.

Forestry is about more than big machines

But forestry is not only about big machines. For a forestry fair, you have a large target group of private forest owners. They want another type of equipment together with advice in forest management, financing, insurance, etc. Small, affordable machines that they can use in their forest at home.

If you take Sweden as an example, there are approximately 3 000 – 4 000 users/owners of large forest machines and some 350 000 private forest owners. So, who should a fair organizer like Elmia aim for? The number of potential exhibitors for the two target groups more or less reflects their size.

We can keep dreaming about the large meeting point where everything about forestry is displayed at one spot, like the Elmia Wood back then, but the market decides. Maybe we have reached the point where we, instead of “large-scale” and “small-scale” trails/areas on the fairs, will see large- respective small-scale fairs in different places and, hopefully, at different times.

By the way: You will see me at the FinnMetko in Finland soon, in the Finnish forest. More about that later.