Green growth from forests can speed up a low carbon economy

Green growth does not happen without people. New green jobs are expected to appear for the natural resources sectors, and new skills will be needed. To realise the green economy goals set by e.g. the EU, networks of local knowledge and contacts between business, research and administration are vitally important – as well as connecting local solutions with expertise from outside. “The borders of the forest sector are expanding, and regional cooperation, especially cross-border cooperation, is a source for innovation and a means to connect with the end-usage sectors” said Dr. Tarja Cronberg, Member of the European Parliament. This discussion is timely, now that the EU Forest Strategy revision is underway.

Green growth offers opportunities for new business, new markets, new jobs and wellbeing for the future. Our present challenges such as climate change, energy and resource efficiency, health and demographic change can be responded to with green growth. “The forest sector can be described as the most advanced sector in the bio-economy due to, for example, its work on the use of waste and resource efficiency” said Mr. Timothy Hall, from the European Commission, DG Research & Innovation. However, there are several challenges and trade-offs when developing forestry in Europe.

“New thinking is often required” said Dr. Pentti Hyttinen, Region Mayor of North Karelia. “We are talking about increasing productivity, but what is it we want our forests to produce? Forest management is the key both for biodiversity and intensified wood production.” Mr. Xavier Clopés, Deputy Director General of Forests for the Catalan Government explained the situation of forest sector development in Catalonia: “Underutilization of forest resources means we require more forest management and better links to markets. Otherwise there is no basis for the long-term viability of sustainable forest management.” “Forest owners and entrepreneurs need to be involved when defining these solutions”, continued Mr. Joan Rovira from the Confederation of Spanish Forest Organisations.

Regions differ considerably across Europe, but it is at local and regional level that solutions for combining conflicting needs are found. The same model is not fit for all, but the sharing of know-how and practices has an important impact at the European level. “The international network and good practices learned in other European regions were key to strengthening stakeholder interaction in our countries”, confirmed forest research representatives Dr. Hrvoje Marjanovic from Croatia and Prof. Sasa Orlovic from Serbia.

It was also concluded that regulations need to have flexibility in order to be adapted to regional characteristics and needs. Finding an optimal policy mix requires an understanding of local conditions, an exploration of the forest value chains of today and the future, and the building of a long-term commitment for strategic goals.

The final conference of the RoK-FOR project,” Sustainable Forest Management Providing Renewable Energy, Sustainable Constructions and Bio-base Products” took place on 4-5 December in Brussels. Some 80 participants took part in the event, and in addition to the European-level conclusions, case studies from five European regions were presented. The regions involved were: Baden-Württemberg (Germany), North Karelia (Finland), Catalonia, and the cross-border clusters from Croatia-Serbia and Aquitaine-Basque. The European Forest Institute (EFI) is one of the core partners in the project.

For more information, please contact: Dr. Timo Hokkanen, Project Coordinator, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment e-mail: timo.hokkanen@ely-keskus.fi; tel. +358 400 884 769 or Ms. Päivi Pelli, Researcher, European Forest Institute, päivi.pelli@efi.int; tel. + 358 10 773 4335

Photo by François Radermecker

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