Future of the European Forest-Based Sector: Structural Changes Towards Bioeconomy

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This report was mainly funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, as well as the Basque Government and the Cooperation Platform Forest Wood Paper (FHP), Austria.

The purpose of this report is to provide an outlook of the European forest-based sector for the next 10–20 years. This time horizon is clearly longer than a typical business cycle, but short enough for many current and emerging trends to have a significant influence. The focus is also on forest-based products and the services related to these products. The study is based mainly on published research, although in some places new data and analyses have been used. The emphasis is on the synthesis of existing studies carried out in the European Forest Institute, its member organi zations and other research organizations.

the forest-based sector is in a period of many profound structural changes, for which reason the past decades seem to be in many respects a rather poor basis for the future outlook. A number of things have already changed fundamentally in global and European forest products mar kets with more significant structural changes anticipated over the next 10–20 years. On the one hand, some products are confronted by mature and declining markets in many countries in Europe, and at the same time they are facing increasing competition from the emerging economies. On the other, products that did not exist in the 20 th century are already in production today, not to mention the possibilities in the coming decades. The global forest sector is also becoming more complex, interlinked and cross-sectori al. It is increasingly affected by climate change impacts, energy policies, and advances in new technologies, the increasing role of services, and societal and political interests towards low carbon bioeconomies, among others. Many of these changes have linkages and feedback effects, and their impacts depend increasingly on the developments of re lated economic sectors such as energy and chemicals. Already, the concepts of the ‘for est-based sector’ and the ‘forest-based bioeconomy’ are beginning to replace the con ventional concept of the ‘forest sector’. Moreover, with this development, the challenges between different industries and service sectors related to the use of wood and forests, and potential trade-offs between environmental values and material use are heightened.

The reports focuses on the outlook for current forest products (pulp and paper, wood prod ucts), new forest products (already in production or on the horizon), bioenergy, forest services (mainly related to forest products), and regional implications in central, northern, and southern Europe. It concludes by providing strategy and policy implications for the European forest-based sector.

European Forest Institute
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