Smart use of the wooden resource can double the economic impact of the wood-based industries, currently at 4.5% of Romania’s GDP and a turnover of 9.86 billion Euros, as well as renewable energy.

The resource available in Romania must be used more efficiently – by industrial processing into high-value-added products, and more efficient energy production, according to the principle of cascading use of wooden biomass. The potential is to double the social and economic impact of the forest-timber-furniture sectors, and to produce twice the energy from biomass.

The first day of the Smart Green Industry conference organized by the Romanian Association of the Wood Industry – Prolemn and the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry brought together representatives of the Romanian Government, of the timber and furniture industries, NGOs and academics for a broad survey of the sector in the light of recent studies by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Institute for Research and Development in Silviculture, as well as the final draft of the National Forest Strategy 2030.

Wood-based industries currently contribute 4.5% to Romania’s GDP, or 9.86 billion Euros each year, supporting more than 330,000 jobs (direct, indirect and induced effects). Moreover, each year the forest-timber sector contributes a 50-tonne reduction of CO2 (captured and avoided emissions).

All these benefits are drawn from a relatively small harvest of timber, compared to the annual growth of Romania’s forests and similar harvests in other European countries. According to the PwC study, Romania’s commercial wood harvest is only 33% of the annual growth, while the EU average is about 63% and the top three countries harvest almost or over 100%.

In Romania, about 19 million cubic meters are harvested each year. Around one third is used for energy (firewood, biomass) and 12 million cu.m. go into further industrial processing.

The multiplication effect of the wood-based industries is huge. Every cubic meter of wood that is processed brings about 750 Euros to the total turnover of the businesses, of which about 250 Euros go directly to the state budget. At the same time, every cubic meter of wood used into products substitutes plastic for packaging, steel and concrete in constructions, synthetic fibres in the textile industry – all of these carrying a much bigger environmental footprint. The wooden resource is extremely valuable; therefore it must be used smartly and efficiently. Romania’s opportunity is on the one hand the biomass from agriculture and municipal waste, which could be used for energy production and could substitute at least partly wood for energy, and on the other hand, we have 2 million ha of land that are not used. If we could plant 500,000 ha and harvest 10 million cu.m. of biomass for energy production, we could free up 10 million cu.m. of wood for the industry, doubling the impact on economy and environment, and providing the population with cheap, clean, renewable energy.

Catalin Tobescu

President, Prolemn

Barna Tánczos, Minister of the Environment, Waters, and Forests: “Our forests must remain healthy to ensure in the long term climate resilience, as well as the wooden resource for the industry and the population. The National Forest Strategy must provide this sustainability, resilience, as well as the balance between the functions of the forest. We are all aware that forests cannot become a botanical garden. Across Europe, forests will provide the much-needed resource for industry and energy production, as well as carbon sequestration and the protection of biodiversity.”

Daniel Nicolaescu, Director, RNP – Romsilva: “Romsilva will place on the market all the available wood harvest, in full compliance to the law. We’ll supplement the firewood volumes for the population, but at the same time we’ll support the value creators, the furniture industry and other industrial branches, with quality timber.”