The bioeconomy “encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy” (EC, 2012). It includes forestry and wood production, with the related biotechnological, chemical and energy industries, but also the provision of other ecosystem services that can support sustainable economic growth. “Bio-refineries are increasingly at the core of the Bio-Economy vision at EU level and worldwide” (World Bio-Economy Summit, 2015). Actors in large private and public investments are mainly focused on capital-intensive investments based on low cost biomass in vertically integrated value chains, where the perspective of the social or ecological value added often lags behind. As counterpart to this mainstream economic trend, we intend to focus our interests towards small-scale labor-intensive activities in the bio-economy context, inclusive the non-wood products and cultural services, as they seem to have a minor role in the discussions of scientists and decision makers.
During the IUFRO Conference, we thus want to put our focus on interpreting and promoting the impact of forest bio-economy on the development of quality product markets and nature-based services and the concepts behind them: social innovation, product diversification, multifunctionality and the value added network of vertically and horizontally integrated economic stakeholders. The extension of the economic paradigm towards social and ecological value added, leads us to the need for considering the associated trade-offs or opportunity costs. But the challenges of climate and socio-demographic changes, coupled with complex and dynamically changing political and socio-economic situations underpin the relevance of transforming our business thinking. Porter and Kramer’s (2011) shared value approach may support this mental shift.
As for the conference, we are looking for research proposals, project results and conceptual approaches that demonstrate how to support such enlarged interpretation and the development of forest Bio-Economy, inclusive the various facets of social, ecological and economic added values and their trade-offs, generated by multifunctional managed forests and the downstream industries purchasing, processing and selling timber and NWFPs.
The conference is organised by
- Institute for Regional Development of Eurac Research,
- Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry of University of Padua
- in cooperation with the IUFRO division 4.05 and the IUFRO Task Force: unlocking the bioeconomy and non-timber forest products.
Keywords: Urban and farm forestry, innovation, sustainable value added chains, ecosystem services, timber products, non-wood forest products, circular- and bio-economy, rural-urban relationships, small and medium forest enterprises.