Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

Spotlight #15 – Planted forests’ roles: Different strokes for different oaks

Planted forests’ roles: Different strokes for different oaks

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Maritime pine in its early stages of plantation (photo by Stephanie Hayes, EFIATLANTIC)

Planted forests are vital but vulnerable resources that can contribute in a sustainable fashion to some of humanity’s most pressing needs – poverty alleviation, food security, renewable energy, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and biodiversity conservation – as well as the preservation of natural forests.

These are among the findings in the recently published Summary Report of the 3rd International Congress on Planted Forests. It is based on outcomes from three scientific workshops and a plenary meeting that took place earlier this year.

Thirty-three countries have greater than 1 million hectares of planted forest area. Together these countries comprise 90% of the world’s 264 million hectares of planted forest which, in turn, equals almost 7% of the total global forest area. The report takes into account key research findings from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Latin America and North America related to vulnerability, viability and governance of planted forests.

It notes the increasing and vital role of planted forests and trees as supporters of those key needs mentioned above; the planted forests’ role in providing industrial wood at a global level; and also stresses the increasing vulnerability of this strategic resource in changing climates.

For policy makers and forest managers, the report is significant for its emphasis on the need for good governance in rural areas. In fact, the report suggests that the phrase “good forest governance” should be replaced, with “good governance of rural areas” since good governance is expected to be comprehensive and inclusive, integrating the demands and priorities of all types of land-users at a landscape level.

The report was undertaken in recognition of the need to secure forest ecosystem services and to adapt forest productions systems – such as planted forests – in the face of worldwide changes, including climate change.

Among its highlights, the report notes that, in terms of poverty alleviation and food security, in many developing countries smallholders and farmers own planted forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. In addition, it says, a large number of people – especially women – gain employment and income from nursery operations, land preparation, plantation establishment, stand management and maintenance and from wood-based industries.

It also points out that wood fuels are the most important energy source and the most important forest product for many developing countries, while in industrialized countries using wood and woody biomass as a renewable energy resource is becoming increasingly popular and is likely to continue its upward trend as a result of high prices for fossil fuel alternatives.

The Congress report strongly emphasized that planted forests should not supplant natural forests, nor should they adversely affect the livelihoods of forest-dependent or indigenous peoples, but should rather complement the roles of natural forests while minimizing competitive effects.

Increased efforts to strengthen commitments to research and development – seen as critical to the sustainable management of planted forests – were called for in the congress report.

The research needs identified came from fields as various as:

  • governance, economics, trade and markets;
  • vulnerability and risk management;
  • ecosystem services and landscape restoration; and
  • from cross-sectorial areas that ranged from poverty alleviation and rural development to climate change and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions.

The full report is available at:  and


Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)


Related Links

Publication: Summary report of the 3rd International Congress on Planted Forests

IUFRO Spotlight main page,


A changing forest sector: Globalization triggers bio-economy and the search for new business opportunities

Logging operations in Northwest British Columbia, Canada (Photo by John Innes)

Logging operations in Northwest British Columbia, Canada (Photo by John Innes)

Scientists, practitioners and decision-makers from around the world meet in Vancouver, Canada from 27 to 30 August 2013 to discuss the implications of globalization on forests and their management.

PDF of Press Release for download

(Vancouver/Vienna, 27 August 2013) Globalization is changing forests and the forest sector. Increases in international trade and investments have altered the global business environment for forestry. The growing world population moving towards nine billion by 2050, economic growth, rising resources demand and increasing environmental concerns are other drivers fostering transformation in forestry and the management of forests. New players enter the global market, and the bio-economy –– the production of ‘green’ products from renewable resources –– is gaining weight. From 27 to 30 August 2013, more than 100 representatives from research, industry and government will discuss how global trends influence forest resources, and how new opportunities for forest entrepreneurs and a more resource efficient society can be harnessed. The Conference has been organized by the University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Forestry, on behalf of the Task Force “Resources for the Future” of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

According to IUFRO, forestry production has declined in recent years in countries with a long tradition in forest industry, such as Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland. “In contrast, the markets and investments in the forest industry’s production capacity are growing rapidly in emerging economies, such as China, India, Russia and Latin American countries”, says John Innes, Dean of UBC Faculty of Forestry and IUFRO Task Force Coordinator.

Today around half the world’s population is middle class, and experts expect further growth in this group. As a result of this and other global forces, consumption is increasing, and will lead to long-term resource scarcity. “This creates the conditions for the emerging bio-economy that seeks to replace non-renewable resources with well-managed renewable resources, and that provides solutions to environmental and social problems”, says Dave Cohen, Professor of the UBC Department of Wood Science. Changes in both the global business environment and uses of some paper products are buffeting North American and European firms in the forestry sector. Traditional forest products companies are turning to new business opportunities. “Today’s new economic reality is the emerging bio-economy, which is the economic face of sustainability”, says Cohen.

Firms have responded in many ways. Empirical research has shown that there are numerous approaches to adapt to changing markets in both Europe and North America. For example, firms have started to explore creating sustainable bio-refineries. They have shifted from producing pure wood products to forest products, including environmental services, forest recreational opportunities, and green certification. Some have also turned to novel bioproducts making use of new technology (e.g. nano crystalline cellulose). Others have moved into bio-energy through cogeneration and ethanol production.

The increasing use of renewable energy from forest biomass reflects a general trend. “Today, 30 of the Fortune 100 companies are invested in the production of bio-fuels and bio-based materials, or their distribution. Since 2005, roughly $20 billion have been invested in renewable energy projects in Canada, and over $920 billion at the global level”, says Don Roberts, President and CEO of Nawitka Capital Advisors, a Canadian consulting company in the renewable energy, clean technology and forest product sector. According to Roberts, the emerging green economy is creating a space for forest product firms to substitute fossil-fuel based products with their bio-products, “but movement to the bio-economy has not yet catalyzed the transformative changes required to reinvigorate parts of the forest products sector”.

The customers’ needs for forests products have changed considerably over the last few years also under the pressure of environmental concerns, climate change and adaptation needs. “The forest sector represents a unique opportunity to meet those needs with a wide range of bio-products, including energy, chemicals and materials, e.g. for the construction sector and building systems. However, even with unique attributes, forest bio-products cannot skip the rules and challenges that any innovation has to face to be commercially successful”, warns Jean Hamel from FPInnovations, a Canadian non-profit organization for scientific research and technology transfer.

Globalization has also resulted in a rapid increase in plantation forests especially in Latin America and Asia. Planted forests are long-term investments that require awareness and diligence in policy and planning, but particularly in management practices in order to avoid negative impacts and maximize their benefits.

“Globalization is having major impacts on forests and forestry. The Conference Resources for the Future aims at focusing the international forest research community on finding the right responses to recent developments and, at the same time, assessing potential implications on the future of forests and forestry”, says Alexander Buck, IUFRO Executive Director.

Conference of Task Force “Resources for the Future”

27-30 August 2013, Vancouver, Canada
Information on the program:

Media contact
Gerda Wolfrum, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO),


The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is the only worldwide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees.

University of British Columbia and Faculty of Forestry

One of the world’s leading universities, ranking consistently among the 40 best, the University of British Columbia creates an exceptional learning environment that fosters global citizenship, advances a civil and sustainable society, and supports outstanding research to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada and the world. UBC has 58,000 students, 15% of them international from over 149 countries and research funding of ~$590 million/year.

The Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia is one of the world’s leading forestry schools, offering a range of programs related to the science, art and practice of managing diverse ecosystems and landscapes, and the products and services that they generate. The Faculty programs are intended to meet the growing demand for experts in conservation, forest sciences, forest management and wood sciences.  (