Behind the scenes
From Egoism to Ecoism
28 July 2020
A new view for the forest-based people in Europe.
Let me state that one of the oldest industries is one of the most modern and it should be ready to build the future. Why? I will get back to it in short, but let us first open our eyes to the actual situation for humankind on our planet.
In the face of currently not-ending sorrow over the death toll of the Covid-19 in Europe and all over the world, scientific work indicate that countless more lives have been saved by the lockdown measures and the reasonable behaviour by citizens (wearing masks, paying attention to hygienic actions, keeping distance). A total collapse of the health infrastructures and systems in many countries has been avoided, even if they were pushed to the edge. Still, the menace of Covid-19 is not over. A global threat like the novel coronavirus proofs that collaborative interdisciplinary sciences and exchange of knowledge create a better understanding of viruses and pandemics, which supports as well coordinated decision-making. Thanks to this understanding, horrifying and disastrous impacts in human population as it has been witnessed in history can be limited if even avoided. This is the ethical and humanitarian aspect of the science-policy cooperation. The current pandemic has contributed to an increase of understanding that European cooperation is not only necessary, but the guarantee to build a prosperous future. A lot of work is ahead. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the biggest global economic crisis in modern times.
Europe, for the first time in its history, approved at the EU summit in July 2020 an agreement that reinforces collaboration and shared responsibility. This agreement was made by all its 27 state leaders (within four days!) to tackle the multifaceted economic, societal and environmental crisis that is partly caused and partly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Turning an urgent challenge into a unique opportunity” can be quoted from the Green Deal, Europe’s new strategy to decouple economic growth from resource use, which is further emphasised in its Circular Economy Action Plan (launched in March 2020), as “from ecological commitment to economic imperative”.
Even with the huge challenges ahead, the analysis based upon all interviews and discussion with stakeholders and experts within the WoodCircus project deliver a picture of a diverse and high performing sector with noteworthy regional differences, due to their different forest ecosystems and partly to different traditions and infrastructures. They can be summarised across Europe in a performing set of advanced applied technologies within practically all parts of the forest-based value chains. Starting from sustainably managed forests to sustainable, healthy living environments and well-being (building and living in wood) getting there via the sustainable mobilisation and ecological efficient transformation of forest resources. Not all of them are linear processes anymore as they feed very well into the circular economy concept of re-using, recycling of resources, side streams, collecting and sorting almost any type of (bio, construction, household, municipality) waste and products. The today operating diversified production processes create new markets, business and jobs, while contributing to the objectives set out by the Green Deal.
It is all about people. It’s their skills, knowledge, engagement and work that makes this all possible. People need partners. Hence, connecting with each other will further boost the dynamism. We witness the information and knowledge jointly created and shared within WoodCircus stimulate curiosity to learn from best practices across Europe and to further improve performances. Knowledge transfer feeds new thoughts and ideas, as it is not limited to simple informing, but more as a stipulating exchange, thus creating new knowledge again, crossing borders. And this is an empirical fact rather than populistic mumbo jumbo. My conviction is encouraged by the collaborative work of the WoodCircus partners that has produced a deeper insight and understanding of the forest-based industry and its performance in the framework of the circular economy concept. Our colleagues, Mr Erkki Verkasalo from LUKE jointly with Mr Giovanni Tosi from COSMOB will be the next columnists and explain to you the fact findings. The Circular Economy Action plan guides the transition of all sectors and places special attention on construction, which remains to be the key market for wood-based products. The forest-based sector can be a real driver and model for the various actions defined within the Action plan. Deepening cooperation across value chains reinforce reduction and reuse of materials, eco-design concepts and new business models. New secondary markets for recycled and/or reused materials as well as products will position the sector into the group of climate and resource frontrunners.
If Europe wishes to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050, its forest ecosystems and the forest-based sector are key partner for achieving the goal. We are ready to write the next chapter with European citizens as the forest-based people are in the heart of the Green Deal objectives. Will this be with or without you?
Dr. Andreas Nikolaus Kleinschmit von Lengefeld is the Director for International Operations at the Institute of Technology FCBA, HQ Paris, France. Dr. Kleinschmit von Lengefeld has been at FCBA since April 2011. FCBA covers a large part of the French forest-based sector, namely forestry, genetic improvement of trees, ligno-cellulosic materials, first transformation processes, logistics, building and living with wood.
Dr. Kleinschmit von Lengefeld is the coordinator of the expert proposal on creating a “Real-Time European Forest Monitoring System – RT-EFMS” for the EOS. He is an active member of various expert and advisory groups in France and on European and International level. Since 2017 he is an associated member of the Section 2, Forest and Wood at the French Academy of Agriculture.
Interested in joining the WoodCircus network? Please use the contact form to get in touch with us or contact directly the WoodCircus Ringmaster :
Anne-Christine Ritschkoff, VTT