Since 2016, the Forest Service has been participating in the international project BIO4ECO (Interreg Europe), which aims to improve national policies related to the use of biomass as a renewable energy source.
Based on the analysis of the situation in Slovenia and good practices presented among the project partners, an Action Plan for Slovenia was prepared, which contains three activities.
1.Improve the conditions for a more active role of forestry experts in promoting the efficient use of wood biomass for energy purposes:
As part of the project, we conducted a survey that showed that forest owners and users of wood biomass want more quality information in the field of efficient use of wood biomass and financial benefits in its exploitation.
Therefore, within the project, we provided consultations in the form of presentations at fairs (Komenda, Nature and Health) and presentations at conferences (SLOBIOM, Varbiom) at other events (ceremonial academy on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Slovenian Forest Service). For forest owners and forest users we have provided professional counseling about safe work in the forest and the benefit of biomass, published articles we prepared counseling for the forest owners and users in the form of lectures at the fair in Gornja Radgona, where we also presented the action plan.
2.Increase the interest of forest owners in forest management (association of owners, consulting…), also in areas with a higher share of forest wood assortments of poorer quality:
In Slovenia, the realization of possible deforestation in privately owned forests is too low, the predominant reason being the fragmentation and small size of forest holdings, changes in living habits, demanding and expensive forest production and low wood sales prices.
As part of the Rural Development Program last year alone, we conducted 967 consultations for forest owners and users, where we encouraged the amalgamation of owners and the management of less profitable forests. We certainly want to continue with such a high number, but for this year and in the future, due to force majeure, our counseling is uncertain.
3.Improve cooperation and coordination between decision-makers and areas of expertise related to the use of renewable energy sources.
As part of this activity, we formulated a proposal for a Strategy for the smart use of wood biomass for energy purposes (hereinafter: the Strategy). During its development, the strategy was given an additional mission as a complement to the previous strategy Wood is Beautiful, with additional support for Slovenian wood industry and mitigation of climate change in Slovenian forests. Due to the latter, an increasing share of wood of poorer quality appears on the market at uneven time intervals. The strategy proposal was prepared by an inter-ministerial working group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Slovenia Forest Service and the Forestry Institute of Slovenia. The main purpose of the strategy is to discourage the use of quality wood for energy purposes, smart - efficient use of inferior wood for energy purposes, improving air quality in areas with exceedances of parameters and maintaining air quality in other parts of the country from the use of wood for heating buildings. We are waiting for the appropriate procedure of public hearing, cross-sectoral coordination and, finally, adoption by the Government or the National Assembly.
With the help of the BIO4ECO project, the Forest Service has carried out many activities that will greatly contribute to raising awareness of the use of biomass for energy purposes. This will increase competitiveness, growth and interest in working in the forest. In the future, we will make every effort to introduce good practices into everyday life as much as possible, thus helping to make the transition to a low-carbon society by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.