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Urban green transformation

During its 5th meeting, chaired by Esko Aho, the independent tripartite high level group on Forestry & Biomaterials continued its role as a laboratory for EU policy innovation. This role was given to it by the Competitiveness Council Presidency in 2011.It aimed at more ‘inclusive innovation’ through ‘thinking outside the box’. Members are a diverse group of experts from the public, private and academic sectors, brainstorming together according to the Socratic dialogue method, in order to reach operable ideas.

The paradigms on which the current EU approach to forests are based need a fundamental review in order to combine conservation and utilization. Without such a game change, the circular economy and strategic autonomy are simply not attainable. In the past, energy, trade (shipbuilding) and early industrialization have been based on massive deforestation in Europe, until not enough supply was available anymore and coal became the main energy source, later complemented with oil, which became the main source for new materials. But advancing in science and technology now allow to use wood again and to be economically circular and autonomous.

A more comprehensive and innovative approach needs to look also at urban green spaces and forests which are not just sanctuaries for visitation and recreation but they can have a commercial use as well (in particular for biomaterials). Urban forestry can also be used as a wood supply source for local industries in the logic of planting, growing, harvesting at maturity, and replanting again. Not only as a place for recreational or educational uses.

The commercial use of wood is much more vast than the more common applications: fuel/energy and construction wood, wood panels and veneer, pulp, paper and board … Already today wood can be used for applications such as: bio-composites of cellulose and bio-plastics for the industry; prebiotics for nutrients, anti-inflammatory, lignin for adhesives, cement and poli-urethane foams, bio-fuels, microfabricated cellulose for packaging and food additives, … Almost everything what is done out of oil, can be done from wood.

REPORT HLG Forestry & Biomaterials Mtg 25 May 2023
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