Forest sector conference in Barcelona highlighted the potentials of forest-based sector innovation

The conference provided a joint discussion forum for a wide range of experts from entrepreneurs and business owners to forest managers and decision makers who see the need for finding synergies and joining forces in order to ensure that all services forests are providing for society can be ensured. “We have all the keys, we just need a coherent framework to work together”, Xavier Clopés from DG Natural Environment and Biodiversity of Catalonia noted. Josep Escorihuela, general Director of the same DG, highlighted the importance of profitability of forestry as an essential prerequisite for ensuring the needed services from forests. “How to achieve this is a big policy task ahead of us”, he noted, and called for market analysis as a basis for forest policies. He also mentioned the need in research and development in forest technology in order to create harvesting machinery which is adapted to the mountainous conditions of Catalonia, in order to make the most of its wood resource potential. “If we in any case aim to use a lot of wood for bioenergy, and it is imported from developing countries, we are likely to cause deforestation in those countries. Currently only 20% of our timber consumption comes from Catalonia. There is a vast potential for increasing this percentage in a fully sustainable way”, he said.

RoK-FOR connects research agendas at regional and European levels

The main challenges for forest research in Catalonia, the Catalan forest policy of the new government and its political strategies as well as the challenges and opportunities in the forestry sector in Catalonia were among the topics discussed during the day. Timo Hokkanen, coordinator of the RoK-FOR project summarised the commonalities between the success stories as well as challenges which the five regions (Baden-Württemberg, Germany; North Karelia, Finland; Croatia and Serbia, Aquitaine (France), Basque country and Catalonia, Spain) participating in the RoK-FOR project are facing. Lucas Janssen from European Commission DG Research and Innovation underlined in his presentation the target for world-class clusters by EU’s input to create preconditions for research and economic development. The “smart specialisation” was brought up as a term describing the investment in innovative forest sector as a respond to the market needs, based on regions’ own strengths. As Luis Rovira, Director of Institució dels Centres de Recerca de Catalunya ICERCA pointed out, there are several points where the RoK-FOR Regional Research Agenda for sustainable forestry, bioenergy, bio-based materials and sustainable construction can be linked with the 17 challenges defined in the Regional Research Agenda defined by the Catalan Government.

During the conference and the back-to-back workshop 16–17 June in Solsona, the RoK-FOR project connected also to other Regions of Knowledge projects financed from FP7: The Research Agenda of the project BioClus was presented by Goizeder Barberena from CENER National Renewable Enrgy Centre in Navarra, and Uwe Kies and Christoph Mühlberg brought insight from the IN2WOOD project.

The conference took place in the framework of the RoK-FOR project (www.rokfor.eu) which focuses on the potential of sustainable forest management in providing renewable energy, sustainable construction and biobased products. The presentations of the day can be found at the RoK-FOR project website.

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