Joining forces for renewable energy, bio-based products and sustainable construction in Europe

Europe’s research driven clusters in sustainable forest management and wood based industries will get new co-operation opportunities within the ROKFOR project which started last week. This cooperative action project ‘Sustainable Forest Management Providing Renewable Energy, Sustainable Construction and Bio-based Products’ (ROKFOR) will join forces in five European regions in order to create both individual and regional research agendas and action plans in the fields of renewable energy, bio-based products and sustainable construction. The regions involved are Baden-Württemberg in Germany, Aquitaine in France, Basque country in Spain, Catalonia in Spain, North Karelia in Finland, as well as Croatia and Serbia. The three-year project is based on each region’s current strengths in the forest sector. The project also aims to strengthen and promote competitiveness within the forest sectors without jeopardising sustainability.

After the agreed upon research agendas and action plans are completed, the project will begin the implementation process. During implementation, the regional public administrations involved will play a crucial role as funding organisations.

Each participating region is represented by a cluster consisting of enterprises, regional policy makers and researchers. Altogether, there are twenty partners fulfilling the roles and requirements of the project. This ensures the involvement of the entire forestry chain including innovations, production and financing of the activities. Many of the partners represent large enterprise clusters, e.g. Science Park in Joensuu, Finland and Xylofutur in Aquitaine, France, which serve as umbrella organisations for hundreds of SMEs in their respective regions.

The sectors covered by the project (bioenergy, biobased products and wooden construction) are based on the Lead Market Initiative being instituted by the European Commission. The market demand is thus the decisive factor to which the activities are targeted. All of the sectors covered by the project are significant for the future bio-based economy and for adaptation to climate change.

The project is coordinated by Dr Timo J. Hokkanen from the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Karelia. The European Forest Institute will also play a key role in coordinating the interregional joint action plan.

The total budget of the ROKFOR project is approximately 1.7 M€, which is funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (Capacities/Regions of Knowledge).

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