Australian Delegation at LIGNA: ‘Unforgettable Experience’

1500 exhibitors, 90,000 visitors flock to Hannover

Thu 18 May 23


“If you do anything with your life in this industry, it must include a visit to the LIGNA Trade Fair”.

That was the prompt by the late David (Wilco) Wilkinson – and I never regretted it.

Iconic timber scribe Con Lembke handed me the LIGNA trade mission mantle in 2001, so I took off to Germany with 35 Aussie sawmillers, wood machinists, and manufacturers on the hastily- prepared 2001 EuroWood Trade Mission that included pre-LIGNA visits to the cream of the European wood industry elite in Austria, Italy, and Germany.

On that mission was a young Queensland wood scientist Robbie McGavin, now Research Facility and Project Manager at the DAF agri-science division in Brisbane.

Dr. McGavin found what he was looking for at LIGNA – a European-built rotary planer.

“We were looking for alternative methods to prepare boards to improve gluing and face milling so we made the investment in 2019,” he said.

Dr. McGavin returned to Hannover for LIGNA 2023 with an Australian delegation last week, full of memories of his first visit 22 years ago. 

As the ‘world of woodworking’ wraps today (May 18), we asked was the event still an exciting driving force for the international woodworking and processing industry… did it have the same chutzpah if you like?

“Most definitely, and in spades,” said Robbie. “There’s still nothing like it anywhere.”

The unique feature that makes LIGNA unmissable is its live demonstration format that features tools, equipment, and even full production lines presented by global market leaders.

Highlights from LIGNA 2023 (it’s in German, so turn on subtitles!). Footage courtesy of @lignatv

The themes chosen were digitalisation in the woodworking sector, prefabrication in timber construction and green material processing.

LIGNA 2023 hosted more than 1500 exhibitors and 90,000 trade visitors. Clearly structured across seven sectors, the exhibition covered all aspects of the primary and secondary wood industries and provided an efficient platform where suppliers and customers could connect seamlessly.

The German Timber Construction Prize

This year, under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development, and Construction, the coveted German Timber Construction Prize was presented to three timber construction projects.

  • Addition and expansion of the national headquarters of the German Alpine Association in Munich.
  • Construction of the new town hall in Hainburg.
  • The new Buggi 52 residential and commercial building in Freiburgon Breisgau.
“Deuscher Holzbaupreis” Award 2023 presented to the three winners at LIGNA 2023 (Photo credit: Wood & Panel Europe)

The award was shared equally among builders, architects, structural engineers, and timber construction firms. It highlighted buildings and components primarily made of wood, wood-based materials, and other sustainable resources, showcasing the diverse uses of wood in construction.

In keeping with global trends, it was a prerequisite that they consider environmentally friendly and resource-saving aspects in terms of sustainability and climate protection.

This year, the 16-member expert jury for the German Timber Construction Award, led by Prof. Dr. Annette Hafner, had the considerable task of reviewing and assessing 149 project submissions.

Around the Grounds at LIGNA 2023

The forest machinery, roundwood, and sawn timber production pavilion highlighted the importance of wood as a raw material in developing sustainable value creation.

In 10 exhibition halls across the open-air site, the entire value chain from tree to finished end-product promoted closer networking between the primary and secondary industries.

At the centre of the thematic focus, ‘potentials of hardwood for timber construction of the future’, the possibility of birch tree species in bonded and load-bearing timber construction products was promoted – for both the European and Asian markets.

This also includes silvicultural recommendations and maintenance concepts for producing sawable birch logs in the reforestation of calamity areas.

The variety of hardwood building products available on the market is increasing – for example, the FlexiMoH project, a modular timber construction system using hardwood laminated veneer lumber known as BauBuche

BauBuche and the high-performance supporting structure for the new airship hangar at Essen/Mühlheim Airport, which is made of cross-laminated timber components, beech dowels, and laminated veneer panels, was presented at the joint Wald and Holz NRW stand.

Editor Note

The elephant in the room, but a good one… Wood Central Senior Editor Jim Bowden, leader of the EuroWood 2001 tour to the LIGNA Trade Fair in Hannover, pictured with the Weinig logo on a visit to the German manufacturer’s HQ in Tauberbischofsheim.

• Wood Central will prepare more reports on LIGNA 2023 as they come to hand.


  • Jim Bowden

    Jim Bowden, senior editor and co-publisher of Wood Central. Jim brings 50-plus years’ experience in agriculture and timber journalism. Since he founded Australian Timberman in 1977, he has been devoted to the forest industry – with a passion.


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