The demand for forest-based biomass for various applications is increasing. The markets of forest-based products are very competitive, with other regions (namely North and South America) leading in production efficiency. The European forest-based sector could improve its competitiveness by increasing the sustainable mobilisation of forest resources through better forest infrastructure, suitable machinery, consolidated ownerships and better management of undeveloped wood markets. Also, Europe needs a continued maintenance of forests, which yields benefits in terms of prevention of landslides, improved fire risk management, higher carbon capture by trees and other ecosystem services. A sustainable increase of the productivity of its forests will increase the value of forest land itself.
The need to increase the resilience of forests to climate change is a common issue all over Europe where rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are projected to affect the composition of forests. The change in forest composition also bears consequences on the local ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as on the role of forests as carbon sinks.
Increasing forest mobilisation and adapt forests to climate changes are crucial to avoid their degradation and to harness possible changes in their composition and vertical structure. These are needed to retain their economic value and to maintain the sustainability of value chains based on forest-based biomass. Furthermore, increasing the resource, energy and process efficiency of wood processing within forest-based sectors, could enlarge the suitability of the various kinds of forest biomass with a wider range of marketable products.Scope:
Building on ongoing activities in the field of adapting forests to projected changes in climate, proposals need to demonstrate the techno-economic viability in forest-based value chains of breeding of varieties of current tree species as well as prospecting for new ones. This will require the plantation of several hectares of land. Proposals could also address the composition of forests by creating mixed forests with the introduction of allogeneic species. Forest owners should be involved in proposals.
Proposals should demonstrate the whole value chain based on the innovations introduced. Specifically, by introducing new tree varieties, the validation should show the economic benefits of increased sustainability and the suitability of the new forest-based biomass for downstream processing. The latter should ideally lead to the development of new products with higher added-value than existing comparable products. The associated business model should include the upscaling of the selected approach to commercial levels.
Proposals should assess the impact of the proposed forest management innovations on the ecosystem, ensuring that the local biodiversity are not disturbed and the protection role of forests maintained as well.
Proposals should include field validation of the proposed approach on a representative surface (several hectares). Proposals should build on proven achievements at lab or pilot scale. Proposals should seek complementarity to the projects funded under topic H2020 SPIRE-03-2016 and BB-03-07 to avoid overlaps and promote synergies.
Proposals should achieve technology demonstrated in an industrial environment, or a system prototype demonstration in operational environment. Proposals need to address the whole value chain, from feedstock sourcing to market applications (Technology Readiness Levels 6-7).
Proposals should also include a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the whole value chain.
It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 15 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.Expected Impact: