The Romanian Academy – the Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, the Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences “Gheorghe Ionescu-Șișești” – the Forestry Department, the National Institute for Research and Development in Forestry “Marin Drăcea” and the Wood Industry Association – Prolemn organized on May 25, the symposium “The Forest-Timber sector in the context of climate change and its contribution to the development of the socio-economic system. The vision for 2030”.

The state of Romania’s forests
During the symposium it was shown that according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS) the area covered with forests in the national forest fund is 6.6 ha, including the area of forested meadows of 260,000 ha, with a consistency greater than 0.4 included progressively, so far in the forest fund. The 2018 National Forestry Inventory (IFN) report highlights that the area covered with forests is 6.9 million ha (29%), which also includes areas of forest vegetation located outside the forestry fund, included in the category “forest”, according to the definition of forest (FAO).

It was also shown that Romania has an unanimously appreciated forestry fund at European level in terms of biodiversity, health, stability, and functionality of forests, as well as the existence of natural structures, virgin, and quasi-virgin forests. The area of forests located in the forestry fund, including those outside the forest fund of Romania, is slightly increasing, according to Romania’s reports on the LULUCF segment.








Forest area (thousand ha) (forestry fund and outside of it)







 Also, the stock of standing timber in forests increased by 133 million cubic meters between the first and second cycle of the National Forestry Inventory, corresponding to a gross increase in the volume of standing timber of 26 million cubic meters per year, respectively 45% of growth.

The evolution of the import-export balance, from log exports of over 1.5 million cubic meters annually before 2013 to current imports of 4.1 million cubic meters of raw wood in 2021 in the conditions of quasi-disappearance of raw wood exports from Romania, shows a progressive increase of the measures’ effectiveness of to combat illegal logging and to balance the demand for timber products for the internal market and the timber industry by increasing imports.

Data provided by the General Agricultural Census shows that between 2010 and 2020 there was a decrease of almost 800,000 ha used as meadows, and in total there are at least 2,000,000 ha of land that has neither agricultural nor forestry use. This lack of capitalization of Romania’s land potential can be turned into a huge opportunity by financing the expansion of Romania’s forestry fund.

The wood from sustainably managed forests is an engine for development

Under these conditions, it has been shown that the wood resource from sustainably managed forests is one of the pillars of the green, circular, clean economy, bioeconomy that represents the future of development.

Substantial economic impact – 16% of Romanian industry, 3.5% of GDP

The turnover of wood-based industries, resulting from the processing of data from 13,790 companies in the wood and furniture industry, is 6.1 billion Euro, and if we include the pulp and paper industry, also based on wood resources plus recycling, we reach a figure of 7.36 billion Euro.

These turnovers represent 16% of the turnover of the Romanian industry and 3.5% of the Romanian GDP.

At the same time, wood-based industries are creating 142,000 attractive jobs, many in rural areas. In counties such as Maramureș and Satu Mare, the furniture industry is the main industrial branch of the county. In counties such as Suceava and Neamt, the wood processing industry is the main industry.

By being in rural areas, the factories in the wood industry are also called “bread factories” by contributing to maintaining the economic viability of the communities in which they operate. There are a lot of rural localities and small towns where wood-based industries are the main employer.

Through the horizontal impact in related industries and services, transport, the direct and indirect impact reaches 300,000 jobs created.

The contribution to Romania’s import-export trade balance is also remarkable, through the annual net foreign exchange contribution of 2.2-2.4 billion Euro of wood-based industries.

Thus, Romania gradually became after 2013 a large importer of raw wood, with annual imports in 2021 of 4.1 million cubic meters, and an exporter of high value-added products. Practically, out of the 4.5 billion Euro exports, over 80% is represented by exports of furniture, doors and windows, chipboard, OSB, MDF, and other finished products with high added value.

Renewable biomass can ensure Romania’s energy security

In the context of the war in Ukraine and the strategy of accelerating the abandonment of fossil fuels, the role of forest biomass in ensuring energy security has increased in importance.

Forest biomass, in its various forms, from the classic firewood to waste from primary wood processing, becoming pellets and briquettes, supports the heating of 3.5 million households in Romania, with an estimated consumption in Romania’s energy strategy at 14 million tons.

The thermal energy generated is 40,000,000 MWh per year. To replace the wood heating with gas heating, at the current cost of over 100 Euro/MWh, it would require annual imports of 4 billion Euro and investments in the expansion of the gas network of 17 billion Euro.

Given the assumed targets for the transition to renewable energy, it should be noted that biomass energy contributes no less than 62% of the renewable energy produced by Romania, according to Romania’s international reports. Hydropower supplies 24% of Romania’s renewable energy, the wind energy – 10% and the solar energy – 2.9%.

The historical structure of thermal energy consumption in the residential sector (wood heating of almost half of Romania’s residential sector) has led to the achievement of renewable energy production targets in Romania for 2020.

However, the targets for 2030 are a very well-integrated strategy for energy and climate change, and biomass is practically the only renewable energy resource available for the heating / cooling component in the residential sector, with huge opportunities to increase the energy efficiency of biomass use, promote the use of cogeneration and huge substitution effect by replacing coal in SACET systems (Centralized Thermal Power Supply Systems) in large coal-using cities that are in a dire need of renewable energy solutions.

The key role of the forest-timber sector in mitigating climate change

Also, the forest – wood products sector is the only economic activity with a positive balance in combating climate change by fixing carbon. Thus, the forest-timber sector annually fixes 30% of the emissions of all the other economic activities, in the balance of greenhouse gases, according to Romania’s international reports.

Thus, we have a direct contribution of 24 million tons of CO2 net carbon storage balance in forests and wooden products.

In addition, 14 million tons of CO2 saved from emissions can be quantified by using wood, by replacing wooden products, by avoiding the use of other materials with a higher carbon footprint, such as plastic, non-biodegradable packaging, concrete, or steel.

An additional substitution effect, of at least 13 million tons of CO2, is registered by using wood biomass, by avoiding the use of fossil fuels, to heat the 3.5 million Romanian households that are using wood for heating.

Therefore, the impact of the forest-timber sector in combating the climate change, through the balance sheet of the sector in the balance of greenhouse gas emissions, is the equivalent of 50 million tons of CO2 stored or avoided, with a market value in carbon certificates of 4 billion of Euro.

The sector is suffering from underfunding

So far, the forest-timber industry is not among the funding priorities in the National Strategic Plan and in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, although it offers an immense potential for decarbonizing the economy, energy efficiency and cost reduction. The multiplier effect in the economy of investments in the forest-timber sector is unique.

Thus, with 1 billion Euro invested, which could be allocated from the Environmental Fund, for a single bonus for the inclusion of meadows in the forestry fund of 2,500 Euro/ha, the surface of the national forestry fund could be extended by 400,000 ha.

With 1 billion Euro from National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PNRR) invested in forest accessibility, storage, and sorting infrastructure, in the execution of forestry care works, the environmental impact of harvesting activities could be reduced, sustainable harvesting at the level of the possibility established by the management plans, respectively 22 million cubic meters per year.

With 1 billion Euro from the renewable energy component of PNRR, invested in increasing by only 25% the energy efficiency for heating the 3.5 million households that heat with wood, the equivalent of 10,000,000 MWh would be released for use in cogeneration MWH biomass, enough to save and pass all SACETs on coal in large cities on biomass, while making available an additional 2 million cubic meters of this resource for use in wooden products, according to the principle of cascading use of wood resource.

The result of such an investment program in the forest-timber sector can be found in the document The vision for 2030 – 10 targets for the forest-timber sector.

The 2030 vision: 10 targets for the forest-timber sector

10 targets for the forest – timber sector, targets based on sustainably managed forests, regardless of the type of ownership in Romania, and on the responsible use of wood on a large scale, in construction, energy and other industrial applications.

1. Sustainably managed forests are the foundation of the bioeconomy

Romania has an unanimously appreciated European forestry fund for biodiversity, forest stability, identical natural structures. The surface of Romania’s forests, the stock of standing timber, the health of the forests registers a positive trend. Supporting sustainable forest management through financing programs is low, and Romania allocates less than 1% of the National Strategic Plan for forests compared to a European average of 5%. The forest cover rate of 29% is far from optimal.

Immediate opportunity: increasing the surface of the forestry fund through programs for the inclusion of the 500,000 ha of forested meadows, in the process of natural regeneration. Within 20 years, they could reach the degree of biodiversity of natural forests if they were protected by inclusion in the forestry fund.

2. Increased, sustainable mobilization of the timber resource

The growth of forests and standing timber in Romania’s forests is on an upward slope, due to the structure by age classes with surplus of trees in the 3rd and 4th age classes leading to an increase in the fixed CO2 stock. The evolution of the forest structure by age classes, the accessibility of the forest fund, the conducting forest care works, an improved forestry technique, research and innovation can lead to an upward trend in the sustainable harvest of the wood mass, to a value of at least 22 million cubic meters annually by 2030.

3. Supporting sustainable growth. Wooden products for a clean and healthy environment.

Currently, the forestry and timber-based industries generate an annual turnover of 7.1 billion Euro, with a share in Romania’s GDP of 3.5% and exports worth 3.5 billion Euro annually.

By increasing the added value and diversification of wooden products, by promoting the use of wood in construction and increasing the degree of wood recycling, the volume and value of wooden products could be doubled, as it happened during 2005-2020.

4. Supporting the local communities, the rural economy, safe and attractive jobs, the connection between rural and urban areas.

The economy based on forests and timber resources is an attractive employer, offering interesting jobs related to research, innovation, and development, both in rural and urban areas. These jobs develop the skills of workers and of the managers in these fields. The forest – timber sector provides 150,000 direct jobs, or 300,000 jobs with the inclusion of the horizontal training effect.

From a social point of view, it is important to ensure energy security for the 3.5 million households in Romania heated by biomass (firewood).

5. Healthy environment, vital impact in combating climate change – the balance of greenhouse gases.

The environmental impact of the forest-wood sector can be quantified in two directions:

The contribution of the forest through the provision of ecosystem services: support (biodiversity conservation, water and soil protection), supply (food, materials, energy), regulation (mitigation of the toxic effect of waste and pollutants, prevention of erosion and extreme events, regulation water flows, carbon status, control of atmospheric composition, etc.) and cultural (social, spiritual and symbolic interactions with the environment, physical and intellectual interactions with the environment, etc.)

The contribution of the forest to combating climate change: greenhouse gas balance.

  • 24 million tons of CO2 net carbon storage in forests and wooden products.
  • 14 million tons CO2 saved from emissions by using wood, by substituting wooden products, by avoiding the use of other materials with a higher carbon footprint.
  • minimum 13 million tons CO2 emissions replaced by thermal energy used to heat the 3.5 million households that heat with wood, by avoiding the use of fossil fuels.

The impact of the forest sector – wooden products on the line of combating climate change through storage of CO2 in forests and wooden products, substitution effect of wooden products and wood biomass in energy totals 50 million tons of CO2, which at a market price of 80 Euro / carbon certificate means a market value of Euro 4 billion annually.

This impact can be increased by at least 30% by increasing the energy efficiency of wood resource use, with the immediate opportunity to replace biomass in coal-fired plants, cascading wood resource use and increasing the volume used in wooden products.

6. Renewable building materials for a healthier life.

Wood, the widest used renewable building material globally, has a bright future. By 2040, the market share in construction in Europe is going to triple compared to 2015. Its advantages: it is reusable, biodegradable, healthy, with a low carbon footprint for finished products, with innovative uses – from construction modular to multifunctional furniture.

Each cubic meter of wood stores a ton of CO2 in its structure for at least 35 years. At the end of the construction life, the wood can be easily recycled, in energy uses or technical panels (chipboard). But, at the same time, by using wood we avoid the use of a cubic meter of concrete – the studies have estimated that there will be emissions of almost a ton of CO2 for its production and transport.

For this reason, wood in construction is considered to have a substitution factor of 2 tons CO2 / m3 used. If wood is also used for structural elements and thus the iron is replaced, the substitution factor reaches 2.8 tons of CO2 / m3 used.

An average volume of 30 cubic meters of timber is required for a wooden house. In average, 40,000 houses are built annually in Romania. Therefore, with a volume of 1.2 million cubic meters of timber annually, all the houses in Romania could be built out of wood. This timber is currently exported and supported for timber construction in countries that have policies to support the use of timber in construction.

Tangible objective: promoting the use of wood in public constructions, sustainability criteria of wooden constructions, resulting in the wooden construction of at least 50% of new houses in Romania.

7. Renewable energy for society

The use of agricultural and forestry biomass is a huge opportunity to decarbonize and reduce costs in this segment of activity, an even more important opportunity in the context of the gas and oil supply crisis.

Currently, biomass supplies 60% of the renewable energy produced in Romania – double that of Hidroelectrica does.

In Europe, but also in Romania, 35% of the total energy (thermal, electric, transport) is used in the residential sector, for heating and cooling, mainly in households. In Romania, almost half of the households are heated with wood.

Regardless of the energy resource used – coal, gas, biomass, nuclear – if it is used exclusively for electricity production, the efficiency is only 30%. The resulting thermal energy, the remaining 70%, is wasted. It is simply blown into the air – through large cooling tanks or in the case of nuclear energy, through the water-cooling system.

For this reason, all European directives encourage cogeneration plants, with the simultaneous production of thermal and electrical energy, which have total thermal + electrical efficiencies of over 80%. The destruction, in Romania, of the central heating systems, based on CETs in high efficiency cogeneration, is a great loss, with economic and environmental costs, a trend that must be reversed.

The great opportunity for green renewable energy is the forest and agricultural biomass, estimated in national studies at a potential of 28 million tons per year, with a high share of agricultural biomass.

Biomass energy, at current gas costs on the market, is 3-4 times cheaper than gas energy, with huge benefits adjacent to the substitution effect and avoiding carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

The conclusion is simple: it is necessary to use biomass to heat the population. The residential sector is the neglected segment in Romania’s energy strategy, focused almost exclusively on electricity, and in the PNRR, with the huge opportunity to use agricultural and forestry biomass in cogeneration plants to decarbonize the energy sector and reduce costs, instead of subsidizing billion Euro annually to fossil fuel energy industry, with the permanent aggravation of problems and rising costs by increasing the price of carbon certificates, so penalties, the huge opportunity is agricultural and forest biomass.

Immediate opportunity: with 1 million cubic meters of wood biomass, coal can be replaced in the CETs of the big cities in Romania, with huge social, economic and environmental benefits.

By 2030, through a national program to increase energy efficiency in the residential sector, by promoting thermal and pellet fireplaces and directing the resource released to cogeneration plants, the amount of energy obtained from the same current volume of biomass can be doubled, with the elimination of coal and gas. In fact, doubling the amount of energy in biomass is also the goal assumed at European level by 2050.

8. More value added through ecosystem services, other than wood.

New economic models, cross-sectorial integration of forest ecosystem services, can be implemented, concrete examples being the water, food and tourism sectors, combating climate change, other forest products – mushrooms and berries.

9. To ZERO waste: circular economy

By 2040, the collection rate for wooden-based products could reach 90% compared to 50% today, contributing with 70% of the reuse of all recyclable materials, in line with European targets. This circular economy fixes carbon and replaces other more energy-intensive materials. By using innovative, biodegradable, wood-based cellulose materials, we can get rid of pollution from plastic materials.

10. Diversification of production technologies and logistics

A multitude of uses, new wood-based products, available as finished products or integrated in other industrial chains, lead to new wood recovery chains.

In addition to the classic uses of wood – in construction, bioenergy, furniture, interior and exterior decoration, chipboard, MDF, OSB, pallets, doors and windows – there have been many new uses in the industry of biodegradable packaging that replaces plastic, wood cellulose viscose that replaces synthetic textiles, many new generation biofuels. The technology of synthesis gas (syngas, green gas obtained by pyrolysis of wood biomass) at the same time as the production of biochar (organic fertilizer) is already mature in Europe. Also, the production of bioenergy with carbon storage will play the key role in the green energy sector.

Of all the branches of the wood industry in Romania, the bioenergy, pulp and paper industry are less developed where we have a strong negative trade balance, biofuels and almost all innovative industries in the use of wood, with high added value.

Immediate goal: developing clusters to support innovation and new wooden products, research programs, technology transfer and investment support.