30.11. - 1.12.2020. / Rovinj

WOOD IS THE FUTURE!: The Adriatic Wood Days conference is closed

The fifth edition of Adriatic Wood Days conference in Dubrovnik has finished after three days. 160 participants from Croatia, Region and abroad had engaged in the rich programme in the Congress centre of the Sheraton Hotel. The conference started on Sunday (1/12) with the study visit to Mediterranean forests in Konavle and continued on Monday and Tuesday (2-3/12) with the exchange of experiences, knowledge and sectoral innovations all combined in various panel discussions, presentations, workshops and discussions.

The participants had discussed many ongoing sectoral themes such as managing of Mediterranean forests, trends on the wood and biomass market, strengthening of sectoral capacities and visibility on the global level, current project calls and EU projects, cluster role and many other.

Apart from the sectoral representatives from Croatia and the Region, approximately 30 representatives from the European association for the bioenergy, Bioenergy Europe and EPC (European Pellet Council) was present at the gathering as well as representatives from European Network ROSEWOOD.

Bioenergy and the future

Sectoral stakeholders have a lot of work regarding the market positioning and popularisation of wood use as an energy generating product although the bioenergy is becoming more and more popular solution. The good news is that the European Investment Bank has announced the suspension of financing projects which are connected to the fossil fuel from the end of 2021 and the bioenergy sector has to prove that the wood is the solution for the decarobonization of Europe. The pelet, in contrast to the changing variable solutions, does not rely on solar power or wind so it does not depend on weather conditions. The good indicator is also fact that EU in 2018 produced 17 million tons which is the growth of 10% in comparison to the previous year. This situation commented European leaders for bioenergy from Bioenergy Europe and European council for pellet. Jean-Marc Jossart, the general secretary of Bioenergy Europe, accentuated the need of necessary effort so that the wood energy is not badly portrayed in certain non-governmental organisations and in media. They concluded that one should actively work on the campaign for the popularization of biomass but also use strong arguments against unfounded assaults on the sector.

Wood as the ‘green’ future material

One of the topics was the wood building which becomes more popular these years. The fact that the wood has much smaller carbon footprint from the usual materials in the construction, such as concrete and steel, more and more architects use wood. Višnja Košćak, project manager in Austrian HolzclusterSteiemark, presented new trends when it comes to the wood construction in Austria in which forestry hires 300.000 people. The Austrians are very protective of their forests so Košćak emphasized that because of that ‘every 40 seconds grows enough trees to build one house.’ Furthermore, she presented the highest buildings constructed only from wood. Just like on the West, the Austrians are ‘competing who will construct the highest building using wood.’ She highlighted that in 20 years wood share in buildings increased from 4% to 24% in 2018. The biggest share take apartment buildings but the highest grow is noted in the construction of public facilities.

Mediterranean forests and challenges

One of the main reasons why Adriatic Wood Days conference is held in Dubrovnik is the public awareness about unspoilt potentials of Mediterranean forests. Forest managemet on the peculiar Adriatic karst and the islands is the topic which one should discuss because it is about the forests which are not very rich in wood supply but have immense importance in the suppresion of land erosion and in contribution to biodiversity to the whole ecosystem. Mediterranean ecoregions are one of the most endangered on the Planet and many of them have suffered horrible degradation from logging, grazing, import of egzotical species, but also from urbanization and agriculture, and the ongoing problem are fires in the summer season.

Clusters and regional development

The initiative for the production of strategy for strengthening the cluster role in the Danube region has been initiated as part of the working group Clusters and regional development (Strategy for the Danube region). Regardless the results so far, people from regional development still have not used full potential of the cluster in purpose of regional reindustrialization. By using certain strategy, one should be able to give answers to the challenges which are common to the clusters in this region and are about the financial questions and the inclusion of clusters in the strategical planning of regional development. Strategical announcement is planned in October 2020 during the annual assembly Strategies for the Danube region. Additionally, the participants  emphasized the shortage of consistent national cluster policies and highlighted the interest for the networking on an interregional and intersectorial level.