Real potential for changes in growth and use of EU forests

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The upcoming competition between the demands for wood energy and traditional forest based industries increases the need for better information on woody biomass at European level. Moreover, a new concept of calculating woody biomass demand flows - the "Wood Resource Balance" developed at the University of Hamburg - shows that the consumption of woody biomass from forests is already higher than recorded fellings and especially energy consumption is much higher than recorded fuelwood removals.

So far official statistics and market models on woody biomass cover only forestry and the forest based industries. The "Wood Resource Balance" though, presents also a framework to integrate all resource flows, including post-consumer wood and coproducts, as well as the demand from the energy sector, all compiled in a comprehensive accounting system.

The need for a completely new reporting system for woody biomass brought together a number of stakeholders, researchers and international bodies to improve the situation. In particular, a task force on wood availability and demand hosted by the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section moved rapidly to gather available information and to make estimates. A new enquiry designed to measure the real level of wood energy supply and consumption was implemented jointly by UNECE/FAO and the International Energy Agency (IEA).The first European "Wood Resource Balance" combining the results of the task-force and the Joint Wood Energy Enquiry was published in 2005. This first study as well as the workshop on wood resource balances demonstrated the lack of reliable data and the need for further research.

The EUwood project, financed by the IEE programme, continued this research and has created a more reliable and precise overview on future supply and demand. It brought together data and analyses from a wide range of sources in thecomprehensive and structured framework of the Wood Resource Balance. Furthermore, the EUwood project offers a detailed and transparent estimate of future potential wood supply in Europe. The detailed information can be used by policy makers for energy and the forest sector, as well as other sectors, including agriculture, biodiversity and industry.

Mantau, U. et al., Euwood project
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