By Lotta Heikkonen, Forest Policy Adviser at Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) and at Nordic Family Forestry (NSF).
Forests and forest-based industries have an important role in strengthening the low-carbon circular bioeconomy. The circular bioeconomy provides sustainable alternatives to fossil-based materials and fossil energy, helping decouple economic growth from resource depletion and environmental impact.
The overall climate benefits of forests and harvested wood products include sequestration of CO2 by forest growth thanks to sustainable forest management; the carbon storage effect of harvested circular forest-based products; the substitution effects of replacing carbon-intensive and fossil-based materials and fuels with forest-based materials. On a system level, this is the most efficient carbon emission reduction system we have today. This is why the EU’s forest and forest-based sectors have crucial role to play in achieving the bloc’s 2050 carbon-neutrality goal.
Today, instead of just lumber and pulp, the side streams of production and chemical compounds of wood are in focus to be used as raw materials for new forest-based products. A wood-based compound called lignin is in the spotlight for developing new solutions ranging from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to packaging and energy solutions. It is even possible to process lignin into a carbon intermediate for electrode materials used in cell phone batteries and other daily electric appliances like Stora Enso is doing at the Sunila mill in Finland.
There have been surprising end uses for new bio-based products. For example, Noireco was exploring whether their biochar could be used to replace coal in energy production when they realised that another interesting end-use for their products was soil improvement and filtering. Biochar is naturally porous and can absorb tiny particles.
What are the important values for the forest sector and society? One of the key of successes of the forest-based industry is the innovative cooperation across the value chain. Starting from the sustainable forest management to products that can be recycled or reused, the forest-based sector needs to work together to get the best value out of wood.
CEPF (Confederation of European Forest Owners) (@CEPFSecretariat) is one of four founding members of the forest-based Sector Technology Platform which has established the European research and innovation priorities of the sector towards 2030 in its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.
The reorientation towards a fossil-free, circular bio-based economy, moving away from the fossil-based economy, is indispensable. The forest-based sector actors, including European forest owners, are ready to become the most competitive, innovative and sustainable provider of net-zero carbon solutions for a climate-neutral Europe, as explained in the forest-based industry 2050 vision.
Lotta Heikkonen represents European private forest owners in EU level policy making on forest related policies. For more information about the topics raised in this article, please contact Lotta on firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bio Market Insights’ editorial team and management.