Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 22.11.2006

European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform Conference in Lahti on 22-23 November 2006

Concrete projects according to the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform's Strategic Research Agenda must be prepared rapidly so that available funds can be steered to the sector. The importance of the matter was emphasized at the sector's international conference on R&D in Lahti, Finland on 22-23 November 2006. Around 400 research and financing experts from all over Europe are attending the conference.

The EU's 7th Framework Programme outlines the focuses of European research and financing in 2007-2013. The research budget amounts to over 50 billion euros. Applications are being invited and the European forest-based sector considers it essential to be strongly involved in the first round of applications.

"Over a thousand European experts from the forest industries and forestry, research institutes, universities and branch organizations have prepared the forest-based sector's strategic research programme for the past three years and now is the time to reap the benefits," says Mr. Markku Lehtonen, the chairman of the conference's preparatory committee.

The WoodWisdom-Net programme has also been opened to European research projects. In planning the programme attention was paid to the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform's research agenda and national research strategies in the field. WoodWisdom-Net is a concrete result of European cooperation in the forest sector among the European Commission, national research financers, the forest industries and research organizations in the field.

Innovation is one of the themes of the Finnish Presidency of the EU. The Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform will help provide a basis for the sector's competitiveness in Europe. Investments must be made in research so that the sector can renew itself, grow and remain competitive. The EU's research programme emphasizes the utilization of renewable resources and sources of energy and governing climate change, among other things. The forest industries are in an excellent position to address these issues.

Wood is an important raw material, but e.g. the possibilities of a considerable part of the chemicals in wood are still unknown. We know the main components of wood, but a lot of research remains to be done concerning extractives, for example. Extractives could be used in treating different illnesses such as cancer, among other things.

Bio-based materials are a significant research area. Applications include different types of composites, fine chemicals and cosmetic products. Nanotechnology can be used to give fibres new properties such as conductivity, allowing them to be used in the electronics industry, for example.

Customized wood procurement chains, the efficient production of wood biomass and its better utilization as a source of energy and in the production of ethanol, bio-refineries and resource-saving production technologies are other important research areas.

The forest-based sector is also looking for financing to alleviate the effects of climate change and evaluate related costs.

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