A Technology Platform bringing together various stakeholders in the forest-based industry around a common vision for 2030 has been launched.
The vision sees Europe’s forest sector playing a key role in sustainability, increasing its competitiveness while fostering the extended use of renewable forest resources, and making a positive contribution to society through bio-based, customer-driven products.
EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik welcomed the launch of the platform, saying: ‘Turning ideas and knowledge into sustainable solutions, competitive products and innovation applications is the name of the game in today’s global economy. There is much innovation potential in the European forest-based sector. By pooling R&D (research and development) efforts and investments at European level, this industry can become a technological leader.’
Forests are the starting point for a wide range of products and services, from furniture and paper to energy and chemicals. Today, the EU is the world leader in terms of the technology used in this sector, and has produced both innovative machinery and chemicals for the wood delivery process, and the technological skills needed to manage forests and build up production sites.
Research is predominantly carried out in institutes and universities, particularly basic research, although some companies do invest in research directed towards product development. The sector remains fragmented – something that the establishment of the Technology Platform is aimed at addressing.
The high level group coordinating the platform has already drafted a list of strategic objectives that must be reached in order to meet its 2030 vision. These include: enhancing the availability and use of forest biomass; developing intelligent and efficient manufacturing processes; deepening the sector’s scientific basis by taking advantage of emerging sciences; and improving communication with the public and policy makers. The platform will now start work on developing a strategic research agenda and implementation plan.
The Technology Platform was launched at the Forest-Based Industries Forum in Brussels, which also saw the announcement of an inter-regional project on the management of rural and forestry areas. The Robinwood project is receiving seven million euro from the European Commission under its INTERREG III programme.
The project partners will seek to revitalise forestry resources, the wood sector and soil protection, and to further develop the use of forestry biomass for energy. Robinwood brings together the regions of Liguria (Italy), Brandenburg (Germany), Murcia (Spain), Wales (UK), Pomerania (Poland) and Eastern Slovakia.
For further information on the forest-based industry Technology Platform, please visit: http://www.forestplatform.org
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Source: CORDIS RTD-NEWS, Feb 21, 2005.