The European Forest Week 2019 took place from 4 to 8 November 2019. The week was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
This year, the European Forest Week was celebrated in conjunction with Forêt2019, the Joint Session of the UNECE Committee of Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI), and the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC). This provided a forum for forest policy professionals to discuss the role of forests and forest products in the circular economy.
"Having in mind that production of wood or wood biomass is just one of the many functions that they provide forest ecosystems, forests provide us with all their functions and services only if managed in a sustainable way" they emphasized at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. According to their explanations, forests are crucial for climate regulation, water resources management, biodiversity conservation diversity and cultural values and for local development.
"Forest ecosystems are a source of products based on natural and renewable materials that can replace fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. Therefore, forestry and forest-related industries are of strategic importance for development circular economy”, they stated.
New technologies, business models and consumption patterns thus create opportunities that make forest products greater contribution to the economy compared to the traditional role of the forest sector as a provider of timber, paper, pulp and energy. “The circular economy is not about sectors but about value chains. The key role of the forestry sector in the circular economy is that it provides timber, natural raw material and a strategic resource that can be used for creating more advanced, reusable and recyclable materials" they pointed out.
These materials can be used in different value chains and transform many strategic sectors economies such as construction and manufacturing (eg automotive, home appliance industry and information technology, textile and packaging industries ...). Among the examples of emerging forest-value chains, the Ministry cited timber construction, textile production and bioplastics.
There are several projects in Slovenia on the topic of forests and the circular economy. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food participates in the three-year BIOEASTsUP project, launched on 1 October 2019 and fully funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020. The main purpose of the BIOEASTsUP project is to support the BIOEAST initiative in the implementation of its vision and action plan for the transition of eleven central and eastern European EU Member States, including Slovenia, into a sustainable circular bio-economy, which is one of the EU's priorities.
At the Slovenian Forest Service, the BIO4ECO project is currently underway on the topic of forests and the circular economy, in cooperation with stakeholders preparing an action plan on current and expected challenges in the field of bio-energy policies. In the framework of VET4BIOECONOMY, they are developing an educational module for forester experts and the general public in the field of circular economy and bioeconomics.
The Slovenian Forestry Institute, together with the Biotechnical Faculty in Ljubljana, is participating in a targeted research project BRIDGE2BIO, which analyses, among other things, the availability and utilization of agricultural and forest biomass resources in Slovenia.
While forests are the most important land-based carbon dioxide repository, 400 billion trees in Europe absorb almost nine percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, while wood products store carbon bound for the rest of their lifetime.