By the mid-Seventies, reports the Ligna website ( ), “wood and forest industry manufacturers at the large Hannover Messe industrial exhibition were developing space requirements which justified their own independent show. Thus it was that in 1975 ‘Ligna’ was born as a standalone trade exhibition at the Hannover exhibition centre, to be staged biennially”.

Featuring anything and everything to do with the renewable raw material, wood, Ligna grew to become the world’s leading trade exhibition for its sector – a position it was able to considerably expand on from 1985-1995.

The political and economic opening of central and eastern Europe was a significant factor in helping Ligna to set new standards, but even before the fall of the iron curtain in 1989, the exhibition had already reached a high level, featuring just under 1,100 exhibitors – half from outside Germany.

Organiser Deutsche Messe says these exhibitors described the show as being ideal with regard to its location and the quality of its 88,000 visitors from Germany and abroad. Ligna had always been a trade fair with virtually no casual visitors: at a rate of 94%, the share of trade visitors was very high.

Just two years later, with the advent of a new technological era in which the computer was now making inroads into the wood and forestry industry, the event provided the setting for full order books and a record number of new business relationships, says Deutsche Messe.

The introduction of a European internal market in 1991 gave Ligna an additional boost, and the changed economic relations in central and eastern Europe also became evident.

Russia became the official ‘Partner Country’ and, with net display space of 122,000m2, Ligna set a new record. For the first time ever, visitor attendance reached the ‘magic mark’ of 100,000, with more than 1,300 exhibitors.

So this year marks the 19th edition of Ligna, which is still held at the same Hannover fair grounds, though those facilities have improved in the intervening years.

This year, the show will be putting the spotlight on the highly topical wood industry themes of lightweight construction, surface finishing technology and bioenergy from wood. “Our world-leading showcase for the forest and wood industries will benefit enormously from the positive economic outlook. The woodworking machinery sector, in particular, is clearly trending upwards,said Stephan Kühne, of the board of management of Deutsche Messe. “The global economic recovery will provide a tangible boost to Ligna – and Ligna, in turn, will bolster business growth in our industries, including those sectors which have not yet fully rebounded from the crisis,he explained.

Some 1,700 companies from 50 nations are expected to exhibit at this year’s fair, with more than half coming from outside Germany. All will share the same objective: to leverage their innovations to attract new business.

More than a third of visitors are expected to come from other countries. “Visitor survey figures from Ligna 2009 revealed that around 80,000 visitors from 90 countries made the trip to Hannover. 95% of these were industry professionals with high-level decision-making authority,said Mr Kühne. “We expect a similar turnout in 2011.”