|ABOUT THE PROJECT
SIMWOOD – Sustainable Innovative Mobilisation of Wood Duration: 4 years (2013-2017)
FORESTS ARE A MAJOR NATURAL RESOURCE Forests cover 159 million acres or 37% of Europe’s land area (Eurostat 2013). As a major biological resource they have multiple ecological, economic and social functions. They provide a multitude of forest products – and are the backbone for employment and growth in forestry and numerous industries which use wood as a raw material.
Europe’s forest-based industries have 4 – 5 million employees, around 600,000 enterprises and a turnover of 550 billion Euro.
AN INCREASING DEMAND FOR WOOD The sector’s forecasts for the coming decades predict a substantial increase in the demand for wood: “solid” uses will grow steadily, while new chemical uses of wood will emerge and start to gain momentum. The highest growth rate is expected in bioenergy – wood plays a critical role in Europe’s future renewable energy supply and the achievement of climate protection objectives.
Current trends in increasing demand are expected to lead to a scarcity of wood, stronger competition and structural shifts in the forest sector.
UNLOCKING FOREST RESOURCES There is lots of unused wood potential in European forests. Most of this is “locked” in forests that belong to an estimated 16 million private forest owners.
Forest ownership is changing. Rural owners, together with their capacity for actively managing their own forests, are declining. The new generation of forest owners live a more modern urban lifestyle and lose interest in their land or see other priorities than timber production.
SOCIO-ECNOMIC AND TECHNICAL BARRIERS The main challenges in forest ownership are demographic change, the increasing fragmentation of forest lands and the unstable income incentives from timber sales for owners.
- Timber is no longer their first priority and other uses such as recreation or nature conservation are gaining in importance, so integrated forest land use approaches are needed.
- In a marginal/unstable income situation, novel practices have to offer economically viable solutions, so collaborative forest management approaches are required.
- The transfer of useable forestry knowledge to forest owners and stakeholders is also needed.
Sustainable forest management has to ensure a variety of forest functions as well as wood production. There is growing demand from society for non-economic ecosystem services like biodiversity conservation and water quality regulation.
The SIIMWOOD project aims to mobilise forest owners, promote collaborative forest management and ensure sustainable forest functions.
The project concentrates on five research themes: forest governance; forest ownership; forest management; forest functions; forest harvesting.
It carries out case studies in 14 model regions, with the help of local stakeholders and develops regional profiles, containing:
- Information about each region’s challenges and opportunities for wood mobilisation
- Goals and strategies, and proposed measures
- Criteria and indicators for cross-regional comparison of wood mobilisation
The proposed solutions will be tested, and this information and analysis will feed into the project’s main output: the SIMWOOD Mobiliser. This pan-European online information system will help unlock substantial forest resources in a sustainable manner, and spread transferable solutions and viable policies across Europe.
Veon FEL is very proud to be involved as the Irish partner in the SIMWOOD EU 7th Framework Programme (FP7).