The wood-based panels industry, encompassing products like plywood, particleboard, and MDF (medium-density fibreboard), plays a critical role in global construction and furniture markets. However, the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events pose significant challenges to this sector. From supply chain disruptions to operational setbacks, the industry must adapt to a changing climate. This article explores the impacts of extreme weather on wood-based panels manufacturing and processing and examines strategies for resilience and adaptation.

Impact of extreme weather on raw material supply

1. Forest Health and Timber Availability

Extreme weather events, such as prolonged droughts, intense storms, and wildfires, directly affect forest health. Droughts can weaken trees, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases, while storms and high winds can cause extensive damage to forest stands. Wildfires, which have become more frequent and severe, can devastate large areas of timberland, reducing the availability of raw materials for the wood-based panels industry.

For instance, the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season, known as ‘Black Summer,’ destroyed approximately 21% of the country’s temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. This massive loss of timber had a cascading effect on the wood-based panels industry, leading to shortages and increased prices for raw materials.

2. Log Transportation Challenges

Extreme weather also impacts the transportation of logs from forests to processing facilities. Heavy rains and floods can wash out roads and bridges, while winter storms can render transportation routes impassable due to snow and ice. These disruptions can delay deliveries, increase transportation costs, and create bottlenecks in the supply chain.

For example, in the United States, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 caused extensive flooding in Texas, severely impacting the transportation network. Many sawmills and wood processing plants faced delays in receiving raw materials, leading to production slowdowns and increased costs.

Operational challenges in manufacturing

1. Facility Damage and Downtime

Manufacturing facilities are vulnerable to extreme weather events. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods can cause structural damage to plants, leading to costly repairs and extended downtime. Additionally, power outages, which often accompany severe weather, can halt production and damage sensitive equipment.

In 2018, Hurricane Michael struck the southeastern United States, causing significant damage to several wood processing facilities. The resulting downtime and repair costs highlighted the importance of building more resilient infrastructure to withstand such events.

2. Temperature and Humidity Control

The production of wood-based panels requires precise control of temperature and humidity. Extreme weather can create challenges in maintaining optimal indoor conditions, affecting product quality. For instance, high humidity levels can lead to warping and swelling of wood panels, while extreme cold can make certain adhesives less effective.

Facilities must invest in advanced climate control systems to mitigate these effects. This includes HVAC systems capable of maintaining stable conditions despite external weather variations and implementing moisture management protocols to protect raw materials and finished products.

Supply chain disruptions and economic impacts

1. Increased Costs and Volatility

Extreme weather events can lead to significant economic impacts for the wood-based panels industry. Supply chain disruptions, facility damages, and transportation challenges contribute to increased production costs. These additional expenses often get passed down the supply chain, resulting in higher prices for end consumers.

Moreover, the unpredictability of extreme weather introduces volatility into the market. Companies must navigate fluctuating raw material prices and potential shortages, which can affect long-term planning and profitability. For instance, the increased frequency of wildfires in the western United States has led to higher insurance premiums for timberland owners and wood processing facilities, adding another layer of cost to the industry.

2. Insurance and Risk Management

The financial risks associated with extreme weather events necessitate comprehensive insurance coverage. However, as the frequency and severity of these events rise, insurance premiums are also increasing. Companies must evaluate their risk management strategies and consider investing in additional coverage to protect against potential losses.

In regions prone to extreme weather, some companies are exploring alternative risk transfer mechanisms, such as catastrophe bonds, to hedge against significant losses. These financial instruments provide a way to spread risk and ensure business continuity in the face of catastrophic events.

Strategies for resilience and adaptation

1. Sustainable Forestry Practices

Adopting sustainable forestry practices is crucial for enhancing the resilience of the wood-based panels industry. This includes selective logging, reforestation, and maintaining biodiversity to create healthier, more resilient forests. Sustainable practices help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather by promoting forest health and reducing the risk of wildfires and pest infestations.

Certification programmes, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), play a vital role in promoting sustainable forestry. Companies that adhere to these standards can ensure a more stable supply of raw materials and demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship.

2. Investing in Resilient Infrastructure

To withstand extreme weather events, wood-based panels manufacturers must invest in resilient infrastructure. This includes constructing facilities with materials and designs that can endure high winds, floods, and other severe conditions. Elevating buildings in flood-prone areas, reinforcing structures to withstand hurricanes, and using fire-resistant materials are all strategies that can enhance resilience.

Additionally, investing in backup power systems, such as generators and renewable energy sources, can help maintain operations during power outages. These measures not only protect facilities but also ensure continuity of production and minimise downtime.

3. Advanced Forecasting and Early Warning Systems

Implementing advanced weather forecasting and early warning systems can provide valuable lead time to prepare for extreme weather events. By leveraging meteorological data and predictive analytics, companies can anticipate disruptions and take proactive measures to safeguard their operations.

For example, real-time weather monitoring systems can alert facilities to incoming storms, allowing them to secure equipment, protect raw materials, and adjust production schedules. Early warning systems also enable better coordination with suppliers and logistics partners to minimise supply chain disruptions.

4. Diversifying Supply Chains

Diversifying supply chains is a critical strategy for mitigating the impacts of extreme weather. Relying on a single source of raw materials or a single transportation route increases vulnerability to disruptions. By establishing multiple suppliers and alternative transportation options, companies can reduce the risk of supply chain bottlenecks.

For instance, sourcing timber from different geographic regions can help balance the risks associated with regional weather patterns. Additionally, building relationships with multiple logistics providers ensures that alternative routes are available in case of transportation disruptions.

5. Enhancing Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

Collaboration and knowledge sharing within the industry can enhance resilience to extreme weather events. By participating in industry associations, companies can share best practices, research findings, and innovative solutions to common challenges. Collaborative efforts can lead to the development of industry-wide standards and guidelines for managing extreme weather risks.

Public-private partnerships also play a crucial role in building resilience. Governments, research institutions, and industry stakeholders can work together to develop policies and programmes that support sustainable forestry, resilient infrastructure, and climate adaptation initiatives.


The wood-based panels industry faces significant challenges from the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. However, by adopting sustainable practices, investing in resilient infrastructure, leveraging advanced technologies, and enhancing collaboration, the industry can navigate these challenges and build a more resilient future.

As climate change continues to shape our environment, the wood-based panels industry must remain proactive in its efforts to mitigate risks and adapt to new realities. By doing so, it can continue to play a vital role in global markets while contributing to sustainable and resilient supply chains.