Assessing the sustainability of the European forest-based sector and the impacts of various policy measures or technological developments
News from Forest Research: March 2010
This January saw the end of the largest forest science project ever funded by the European Union. Involving 38 partners from 21 countries, the EFORWOOD project aimed to assess the sustainability of the European forest-based sector and the impacts of various policy measures or technological developments.
The project analysed the sustainability of the forestry–wood chain by dividing it into six separate processes. Forest Research was involved with the first two – forest resources and their management, and harvesting and transport – while other partners tackled primary processing, secondary processing and production, and recycling. Information was collected on representative wood chains across Europe; prototype models were developed with stakeholders to simulate the forestry–wood chain at regional level, and various tools were combined to represent the entire European chain to create a system to evaluate future scenarios.
One major benefit is the improved understanding between European researchers working in different parts of the chain and to see, for example, how changes in the quality and quantity of raw material can affect the competitiveness of European forest industries in 10–20 years’ time.
As part of our work we proposed a pan-European methodology for classifying different types of forest management. This can be linked to both recreational and biodiversity benefits accruing from forests, and was also used in the report Combating Climate Change – A Role for UK Forests to explore implications for carbon management. In addition, a risk analysis of the interaction between forest management and a range of abiotic and biotic threats has been carried out in a number of representative European forest types, including Sitka spruce and Scots pine in Britain. We have been able to explore the effects of different end-uses (e.g. woodfuel versus sawlog production) on various sustainability indicators such as employment and gross value added.
Among the lessons learnt is the need for better data on various aspects of the forestry–wood chain, one example being the lack of reliable costs for a range of forest operations, prices paid for timber and other products. This integrated approach to analysing the European chain has led to our involvement in three further projects looking at more detailed aspects of the chain: