Treeconomics. Wood in a sustainable economy – Press Release
- The Treeconomics event. Wood in a sustainable economy, organized by ProPopulus and sponsored by ING Spain, brought together leading representatives of the entire forestry sector chain.
- The experts agreed that forests play a fundamental role in mitigating climate change and in replacing polluting materials with wood as a sustainable alternative.
- The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge recognized the economic contribution of the poplar sector and confirmed that the national inventory of forest masses is ready, with more than 80,000 hectares of productive poplars.
Experts and representatives of the forestry sector chain met at the conference Treeconomics. Wood in a sustainable economy, where they claimed the role of forests in mitigating climate change and highlighted the need to replace polluting materials with wood as a sustainable alternative.
The forum, which took place at the end of June, was organized by ProPopulus, the European association that represents producers and organizations of the poplar chain. It was sponsored by ING Spain. The deputy director of Forest Policy and the Fight Against Desertification of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, María Torres-Quevedo was also present, and she confirmed that the Document of the National Strategy to Combat Desertification has already been presented to the Council of Ministers. She also confirmed that the national inventory of forest masses is ready, and that more than 80,000 hectares of productive poplars are being mapped.
In this sense, the participants in the event focused on the poplar as a key pillar of the bioeconomy. “Poplar wood has a high potential for use in construction, through engineered wood that improves the properties of poplar,” explained Joris Van Acker, president of ProPopulus and professor and director of the Wood Technology Laboratory of the University of Ghent, who added that “Europe must embrace this trend” although there is still no common criteria within the European Union in relation to the cultivation of poplar.
For this reason, Pedro Garnica, former president of ProPopulus and president of the Garnica Group, the largest European manufacturer of poplar plywood, indicated that poplar is the wood with the greatest demand on a global scale, calling it “a great opportunity for the rural world” and pointed out the need to encourage planting the species at European and national level to meet the future needs of the markets.
Wood, an essential ally in the fight against climate change
Ana Belén Noriega, general secretary of PEFC Spain also participated in Treeconomics. Wood in a sustainable economy, and she assured that sustainable forest management “is key in the fight against climate change”. She then explained that wood helps to mitigate it by storing carbon, but also it can be used as a substitute for other polluting materials. Therefore, she stressed the importance of forest certification and the chain of custody. “Traceability and responsible consumption help, they are essential, to maintain forests and promote a sustainable economy,” she concluded.
The value of trees as a tool to improve air quality is something that many public institutions already value. Thus, Santiago Saura, councillor of the Delegated Area of Internationalization and Cooperation of the Madrid City Council, explained the initiatives that are being carried out by the council, highlighting that the Metropolitan Forest project seeks to generate a forest and ecological ring around Madrid, by planting 450,000 trees and with a budget of 22 million euros for this year.
Inés González Doncel, coordinator of the Platform Together for the Forests, stressed that “the functions of forest ecosystems are being confused with the services they provide and society is being expelled from the world of nature conservation.” She wondered if the benefits generated by forests are quantified and she showed the need to give them value.
For her part, Marta Corella, mayor of Orea, claimed the role of rural populations as guardians of forests and their resources, so as to ensure a fair and sustainable ecological transition. It is essential to manage forest areas taking into account knowledge of local people, compensate rural work and modify the legislation adapting it to the real needs.
Some companies like ING already put sustainability at the centre of their actions to “preserve the planet, achieve a strong economy outside the cities, contribute to mitigating global warming, and give back to the people what they give us through their products.”, as stated by Carlos García Peredo, General Director of Structured Financing at ING Spain & Portugal.
As explained by the professor at the University of Vigo, Juan Picos, the sector now faces the challenge of continuing to innovate and adapt to the needs of the future to guarantee the supply of renewable, sustainable and inexhaustible resources, and to assume the role of “helping others reduce their carbon footprint”.
In this sense, Julen Pérez, an expert in sustainable architecture and Senior Associate at Waugh Thistleton Architects Ltd., pointed out that “wood is a great alternative to other more polluting materials. Wood helps on two fronts: it is renewable, and it maintains the forest area, which is the best way to transform CO2 into oxygen”. Thus, the industry will continue working on developing various materials from wood to replace polluting and non-renewable raw materials, such as liquid wood for 3D printing, transparent wood, or fibre textiles that come from wood.