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Fruits of the Forest
October 1, 2010   
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A research and development consortium known as the Polish Technology Platform for the Forestry and Wood Sector aims to help develop new technology for the forest industry and ensure its sustainable development.

Forests cover around 30 percent of Poland’s total area. The timber industry generates 9 percent of the country’s exports value-wise and provides employment to 230,000 people, 12 percent of the economically active population.

Poland is among the European countries with the largest timber resources. Around 35 million cubic meters of timber is harvested in Poland annually and the wood-processing sector alone generates more than 2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Up to 70 percent of timber is exported in the form of various products for the furniture industry. The Polish timber industry is among the most rapidly expanding timber sectors in the European Union. This is attributable to its large raw material resources and well-established markets.

However, the sector suffers from a shortage of timber, estimated at up to several million cubic meters a year. This creates the problem of insufficient capacity utilization, according to experts. Apart from the pulp and paper industry and the wood-based products industry, where there is a strong concentration of production and capital, most businesses operating in the wood-processing sector are either small or medium-sized. Their market position is harmed by the fact that they have to compete for timber supplies with companies from other sectors of the economy.

Pooling resources

A few years ago, leading companies in the forestry and timber sector realized that, in order to ensure further expansion of the sector, they should pool their research and development resources and become involved in EU projects.

The Polish Technology Platform for the Forestry and Wood Sector was established in 2005 to bring together leading companies in the sector in a project aimed at developing new technology and securing funds from sources such as EU coffers. The Robert Motała, managing director of Warsaw-based Stora Enso Wood Supply Polska Sp. z o.o. company, represents the Polish Technology Platform for the Forestry and Wood Sector in the High Level Group of the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform.

Research galore

The Polish Technology Platform for the Forestry and Wood Sector aims to address a wide range of problems, including those associated with forest planting, the protection of newly planted trees, and wood waste management.

One of the key areas on which the platform focuses is the creation of stable forest ecosystems. This involves defining timber resources and areas most suitable for forest planting, analyzing the quality of wood depending on location, climate and forest growing conditions, and dealing with logistic processes facilitating trade in wood.

Creating a forest management system based on the latest information and communication technology is another objective of the platform. This includes the development of methods for monitoring the state of forests and reporting data from many types of sources. Among these methods are biophysical and geophysical systems that make it easier to evaluate and project forest parameters. Also important is research into the diversity of forest ecosystems and work to develop effective methods to protect forests against pest, insects and diseases.

In the sawmill industry, the main objective is to develop better, more efficient and reliable tools and to optimize the processing of lower-quality wood.

The use of laminated wood is another research area. Experts say demand for laminated wood will be on the rise due to the growing popularity of wood as a finishing material. This has spurred research into wood adhesives and layer materials made of various types of wood. Also important is research into structural wood because wood is regaining popularity as a structural material as it is able to withstand heavy loads and is durable.

The platform’s research also focuses on the wood-based products industry, which is one of the fastest expanding sectors in the European Union despite a shortage of raw material. According to the platform’s experts, more raw material for the production of wood-based boards could come from energy crops, which could be grown in degraded and contaminated areas prone to flooding or erosion. Some types of agricultural waste and recyclable wood can also be considered as raw material for the wood-based products industry, experts say.

In the paper industry, research is concentrated on environment-friendly processes to manufacture and bleach paper pulp and on the development of energy- and water-efficient paper production systems. Also important is research aimed at optimizing the composition of materials used for making printing paper, reducing the amount of dust generated in the process of paper production and gaining alternative cheap sources of natural fibers that could be used in the paper industry.
Marek Mejssner

The Polish Technology Platform for the Forestry and Wood Sector brings together the following companies and institutions:

Companies
-Bastex Sp. z o.o., Wolman Division Poland, in Warsaw
-Bydgoskie Zakłady Sklejek Sklejka-Multi SA, in Bydgoszcz
-Hardex SA, in Krosno Odrzańskie
-Koszalińskie Przedsiębiorstwo Przemysłu Drzewnego SA, in Szczecinek
-Kronopol Sp. z o.o., in Żary
-Mondi Packaging Paper SA, in ¦wiecie
-Pfleiderer Grajewo SA, in Grajewo
-Pfleiderer Prospan SA, in Wieruszów
-Polski Przemysł Drzewny Sp. z o.o., in Puszczykowo
-Przedsiębiorstwo Przemysłu Drzewnego Poltarex Sp. z o.o., in Lębork
-Sokółka Okna i Drzwi SA, in Sokółka
-Steico SA, in Czarnków
-Stelmet Sp. z o.o., in Jeleniów
-Stera International, in ŁódĽ
-Tartak i Zakład Stolarski Janina i Wacław Witkowscy, in Rychłowice near Wieluń
-Tartom Zakład Przemysłu Drzewnego Sp. z o.o., in Tomaszów Mazowiecki

Business associations:

-Droma – Association of Manufacturers of Woodworking Machinery, Devices and Tools, in Jarocin
-Polish Chamber of Commerce of Furniture Manufacturers, in Poznań
-Polish Chamber of Biomass, in Warsaw
-Polish Economic Chamber of Wood Industry, in Poznań
-Wood-Based Panels Producers Association of Poland, in Czarna Woda
-Association of Forest Entrepreneurs, in Gołuchów
-Polish Association of Wooden Pallet Producers and Exporters, in Jedlnia Letnisko

Other institutions:

-Timber Frame Building Center, in Gdańsk
-State Forest Authority, in Warsaw
-Teraz Drewno Wood Promotion Foundation, in Warsaw
-Institute of Fundamental Technological Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, National Contact Point for EU Research Programs, in Warsaw
-Polish National Committee – EPAL, in Inowrocław
-Wooden Home Association, in Gdańsk
-Association of Foresters and Wood Technologists – Central Board, in Warsaw
-Association of Polish Papermakers, in ŁódĽ
- Wielkopolska Agency for Enterprise Development Sp. z o. o., in Poznań

Research centers:

-Forest Research Institute, in Warsaw
-Institute of Biopolymers and Chemical Fibers, in ŁódĽ
-Paper and Printing Institute, ŁódĽ University of Technology, in ŁódĽ
-Building Research Institute, in Warsaw
-Wood Technology Institute, in Poznań
-Institute of Natural Fibers and Medicinal Plants, in Poznań
-Wood Technology Committee, Polish Academy of Sciences, Division of Agricultural, Forestry and Veterinary Sciences, in Warsaw
-Research and Development Center for Wood-Based Panels, in Czarna Woda
-Industrial Institute of Agricultural Engineering, in Poznań
-Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, Faculty of Wood Technology, in Warsaw
-Kazimierz Wielki University, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Technical Sciences, Institute of Technology, in Bydgoszcz
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