Written Answer to a Question: The forest industry

Answer given by Mr Breton on behalf of the European Commission to a question (Rule 138) by Peter Lundgren on “The forest industry”

The Commission is aware of the mismatch between wood supply, dominated by hardwood species and the high demand for coniferous ones. As for creating demand for the former, EU policies and initiatives are obliged to operate on a material-neutral basis. Nonetheless, public authorities could play a role, within the rules of (green) public procurement, to support and speed up the use of hardwoods as circular, carbon-neutral bio-based materials helping to replace fossil-based ones in line with the Paris Agreement.

Private-sector innovation will also be key. In this context, EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 has already funded projects on circular, bio-based business models and sustainable, long-term, circular, wood value chains, where bio-based materials and products replace fossil-based ones. Horizon Europe (2021-27) will further enable such solutions, particularly within climate-friendly, resilient and socially-inclusive systems and partnerships between the EU institutions, national and regional authorities, and business. The Commission also encourages the woodworking industries to take part in the research and innovation indicated in the Work Plan 2020 of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU)(1).

As regards a study on wood availability, the Knowledge Centre for the Bioeconomy, operated by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, already gathers wood production and use data, including by main species. Further elements may be feasible according to the future Work Plan of Horizon Europe.

(1) https://www.bbi-europe.eu/documents/bbi-ju-annual-work-plan-budget-2020

Question for written answer E-000047/2020 to the Commission Rule 138
by MEP Mr Peter Lundgren
 – Subject: The forest industry

The European sawmill industry is based mostly on softwood species. As a result of climate change, the share of hardwood species will increase in the coming decades. There might be a mismatch, however, between what the forest can supply and consumer taste, which is more and more oriented towards softwood.

A result of bark beetle attacks, a lot more timber than expected has been processed across Europe in the last couple of years. This means that the market is currently saturated by timber, but in a few years’ time there might be shortages. The European Forest Institute predicts that, in Central Europe, the average annual bark beetle damage projected for 2021-2030 is almost six times higher than what was observed between 1971 and 2010.

1 What view does the Commission take on finding ways to create demand for currently underused hardwood species, which will be more and more abundant in the future?

2 What view does it take on an EU study that would assess the quantity of damaged wood and overall wood availability, possibly including a breakdown by species?

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