Österreichische Bundesforste puts its first wind farm into service

Green wind farm on Pretul Mountain begins full operation – Styria’s electricity generation capacity from wind to increase by one third – 14 state-of-the-art wind turbines to supply 22,000 households

The first wind farm run by Österreichische Bundesforste (ÖBf), Austria’s largest ecosystem manager, has gone into full operation on Pretul Mountain in the federal state Styria. With 14 wind turbines and an annual electricity generation of some 84 gigawatt hours (GWh), the wind farm will be Styria’s highest-output wind farm yet. At around 1,600 metres above sea level, the site atop the Pretul is especially windy. The Pretul wind farm will be able to supply electricity to 22,000 households and cut CO2 emissions by around 74,000 metric tons annually (based on the share of the ENTSO-E mix and replacement of fossil fuels).Logo OEFBF

“As an organisation that helps manage our natural environment, we support energy production from renewable sources and we contribute to achieve national energy objectives”, says ÖBf-CFO Georg Schöppl, who is also responsible for real estate and renewable energy. The wind farm performed well during the initial months of testing last year. “The wind conditions in the first couple of months of winter were much better than forecast, and we were able to increase the turbines’ availability every day”, Schöppl continued, delighted by the results. “The wind farm generated much more electricity during the test phase than expected.” The Pretul wind farm is scheduled to officially go into service in summer 2017, once ecological restoration activities have been completed.

Construction on schedule and under budget

According to Schöppl “construction was on schedule, despite unfavourable weather conditions, including high winds, fog and precipitation. All 14 wind turbines were built in just five months and construction costs came in well under budget.” With a price tag of around EUR 49 million, the Pretul wind farm is the largest investment in ÖBf’s history.

The wind farm uses special Enercon E82-E4 wind turbines with a hub height of 78 metres and a rotor diameter of 82 metres. The turbines were developed for locations with strong winds. “The wind turbines are designed to withstand the extreme cold and can operate at temperatures as low as -40° Celsius”, Schöppl explained. If ice begins to form, special sensors switch the wind turbines off. Integrated rotor blade heaters then thaw the ice at a controlled pace.

Green wind farm with an MTB trail and Alpine playground

Construction of the wind farm was accompanied by extensive environmental and tourism measures. “Designing the project to minimise its impact on the environment has been especially important to us, as a steward of our natural environment,” Schöppl said. “We have made extensive use of our expertise in nature conservation and have implemented measures that go well beyond legal requirements. For example, we conducted ecological restoration measures in the adjacent Schwarzriegelmoos nature reserve, the easternmost Alpine moor. We reclaimed some 40 hectares of pasture, improving the habitat for black grouse and capercaillie, and planted trees and shrubs common to the region, including fir, sycamore, mountain ash, grey alder and wych elm. We planted over 1,500 saplings in all in the project area.” Plans this year call for making the area more attractive to tourists. Activities include creating a mountain bike trail on the Pretul, designing a walkway and scenic lookout in the Schwarzriegelmoos reserve, and building an Alpine playground in collaboration with the Rosegger Friends-of-Nature House on the Pretulalpe. Measures are expected to be completed by autumn 2017.

 

 

State Foresters Gathered in Brussels for the International Day of Forests Dedicated to Forest and Energy

PRESS RELEASE 22.03.2017

The European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) held its General Assembly in Brussels on 21 March 2017, establishing the orientation for EUSTAFOR’s activities for the year to come and confirming Per-Olof Wedin, CEO of the Swedish State Company Sveaskog, for a new term as EUSTAFOR’s President. The previous evening, EUSTAFOR hosted a state forest reception at the European Forestry House in Brussels.

Per-olof Wedin
Per-Olof Wedin. President of EUSTAFOR

Following the EUSTAFOR General Assembly, more than 50 CEOs and other representatives from European State Forest Management Organizations joined together with high-level policymakers and diverse stakeholders at the International Forum “The Value of Wood” at the Résidence Palace (International Press Center) to celebrate the International Day of Forests where Mr. Wedin gave a keynote presentation on “How State Forests Boost the Bioeconomy.”

“Our mission is to provide European society with an entire range of ecosystem services such as biodiversity, clean water to drink, clear air to breath, beautiful landscapes and recreational infrastructures in addition to employment opportunities for rural populations and raw material for downstream industries,” stated EUSTAFOR’s President, Per-Olof Wedin. The President also emphasized the role of bioenergy, stating that “bioenergy does not compete with the bioeconomy but is instead its enabler.”

The Value of Wood forum consisted of two panel sessions: The first, chaired by MEP Paul Brannen (S&D/UK), focused on Sustainable Architecture and Construction and the second, moderated by MEP Henna Virkunen (EPP/FI), examined different aspects of Forests, Innovation and the Bioeconomy.

The forum kicked off the Forest City Project, a public information campaign and exhibition to be displayed in the European Quarter through 5 June 2017 (World Environment Day). EUSTAFOR is a strategic partner of the project, organized by Revolve Media, together with the European Organization of the Sawmill Industry (EOS), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest-based Sector Technology Platform (FTP). The initiative provides an excellent opportunity to show how forests and their products contribute not only to our daily lives, but how they are also helping society to face global challenges such as climate change and the need for more sustainable production and consumption patterns.

Following the event, Piotr Borkowski, EUSTAFOR’s Executive Director, highlighted that “Through the positive results of their everyday management, European state forests managers provide a genuine contribution. Their sustainably managed forests have a great potential to play a key role in reaching EU targets and ambitions in terms of climate change, energy and the economic transition to a bio-based economy, while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability.”

EUSTAFOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY

EUSTAFOR’s General Assembly will take place on 21 March 2017 in Brussels back-to-back with a reception celebrating the International Day of Forests (20 March 2017 at the European Forestry House) and an international forum on “The Value of Wood.”

The Agenda includes:

Part I. Internal Business Session

Meeting Time: 9.00 – 13.00

Saxony Liaison Office Brussels Av. d’Auderghem 67 – 1040 Brussels

1. Registration (as of 8.30)

Part II. External Session

Meeting Time: 15.00 – 18.00

Résidence Palace – International Press Centre in Brussels
Rue de la Loi, 155 – Bloc C
1040 Brussels

EUSTAFOR contributes to the ongoing policy debate on the role of forests in EU Climate policy post-2020 – 2nd position paper released

EUSTAFOR published a second position paper (PRESS RELEASE) in which it explains the views of state forests on the LULUCF and ESR proposals. The paper that was published on 20 February 2017 was elaborated by EUSTAFOR’s Working Group on Climate Change.

The first EUSTAFOR Position Paper on the Role of Forests in the Post-2020 EU Climate Change Policy framework was published in July 2016. The topic remained the center of attention during EUSTAFOR’s ExCom meetings (EustaforExpress 60). The EUSTAFOR Working Group on Climate Change, lead by Alexander Horst (ÖBf, Austria), fosters internal discussions between members (link to all materials). The group met in Brussels on 23-24 January 2017 to develop a more detailed view on the European Commission’s legislative proposals on land use, land use-change and forestry (LULUCF) and effort-sharing. EUSTAFOR’s Second Position Paper, published on 20 February 2017 (PRESS RELEASE), highlights how the long-term climate benefits of forest management are not fully taken into account by the current legislative proposals. The EUSTAFOR position:

  • Recognizes the positive elements of the proposal;
  • Asks for a stronger link between the development of the bioeconomy and climate policy;
  • Ask for the full accounting of mitigation effects of forest management and wood products;
  • Opposes the provision that gives the Commission the right to recalculate forest reference levels (FRL);
  • Asks to include managed forestland in the Effort Sharing Regulation flexibility.

Additionally, a list of amendments was compiled and will be used by the Executive Office at meetings with MEPs and other stakeholders. More details.

Green Jobs and Forestry

The kick-off meeting of the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on Green Jobs, Education and Training Systems took place on 25-26 January in Zvolen, Slovakia. In addition, a workshop on green jobs and skills development in the forest sector was announced for 27-28 June 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The event was one of the actions foreseen by the current FOREST EUROPE Work Plan previously adopted by the Expert Level Meeting on 11-12 May 2016 in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. The work plan serves as a framework for the implementation of the commitments of the 7th Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (October 2015, Madrid).

The participants of that event identified the following main issues, challenges and opportunities in relation to education and forestry:

  • In compliance with national, EU and international regulations, opportunities to attract migrant workers in education systems need to be explored.
  • International occupational health and safety standards provide an opportunity and an instrument to improve the situation.
  • Social equity and gender equality also belong to the highest priorities to be addressed.
  • Constant adaptation of education systems and development of new skills seem to be important in many countries for transitioning to a green economy.
  • Attracting young people to study and work in the forest sector is an important challenge as the workforce is ageing.
  • Increasing employment in rural areas can be accomplished by actively promoting entrepreneurship or other economic activities of long-term unemployed, low-skilled laborers and migrants.
  • Limiting informal employment is essential from an economic and social point of view.
  • Developing new strategies, action plans and regulations provides opportunities to the mainstream social aspects of decent green jobs in forest sector policies and legislation.
  • More precise data on existing and potential green jobs in the forest sector would be beneficial.

During the discussion, it was widely recognized that social aspects and workforce issues are not addressed properly within the forest sector and have often been overlooked by policy making. Green jobs are central to sustainable development and offer a response to the global challenges of environmental protection, economic development and social inclusion.

The meeting provided an occasion to announce a workshop on green jobs and skills development that will be held on 27-28 June 2017 in Bratislava. Discussions at the workshop will provide an important contribution to the identification and promotion of state-of-the-art approaches to green jobs and new skills development in the European forest sector. The agenda of the meeting will include:

  • recommendations on topics requiring further cooperation among relevant partners and recommendations to relevant intergovernmental processes;
  • recommendations and preliminary guidance to be used for the development of pan-European guidelines on the promotion of green jobs in the forest sector, as mandated by the Madrid Resolution and carried out by the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on green jobs, education and training systems.

The results of the workshop will be used as input to the work of the FOREST EUROPE process, as well as the UNECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI) and FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC), as appropriate.

 

Renewable Energy Directive Recast – Joint position paper state of the art

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for new sustainability criteria for forest biomass as a part of the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package. EUSTAFOR, together with the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) and European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperatives (Copa & Cogeca), continues working on a draft of a position paper.

The draft position paper, which has been sent for feedback until Friday 10 March 2017 to all EUSTAFOR members, is based on already expressed views and analyses (link). In the draft position paper, forest owners and managers invite the EU policy and decision makers to first look at the implementation of existing European and national policies and regulations, which ensure the sustainability of forest biomass sourcing, before taking any action on developing a new regulatory framework. If for any reason, such as the necessity to ensure the sustainability of imported biomass, the determination towards regulating the sustainability of forest biomass in the EU bioenergy policy post-2020 continues, the proposed approach can be an option if already-existing requirements in the EU and national legislations are taken into account. While recognizing that the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED recast) acknowledges the existing legislation on forests and forest management at EU and Member State levels, the position strongly requests avoiding that the new framework interferes with already-existing legislation and tools. The paper raises the following issues:

  • The proposal should not have a negative impact on subsidiarity
  • Criteria verification should be feasible
  • Assessment should be made on national/sub-national levels
  • The administrative burden for Member States and operators should be minimized
  • A reasonable timing should be provided to review the effectiveness of the risk-based approach

In the overall debate, it is vital that European policy and decision makers recognize the role of sustainably managed forests and their products in contributing to the bioeconomy and that the use of domestically-sourced bioenergy and raw materials is promoted.
Also, at the occasion of the Climate Change Working Group meeting, EUSTAFOR, CEPF, and Copa & Cogeca organized a joint working session on the new proposal of Renewable Energy Directive II (RED recast), with a focus on the forest biomass sustainability criteria. Experts from the European Commission (DG AGRI) explained the details of the proposal to the participants of this event (link to the presentations).

The meeting provided an excellent occasion to discuss crosscutting issues and synergies between biomass use, fossil fuel substitution and carbon sequestration, and to further discuss specifics about the RED recast proposal.

Forestry and the need for sectorial education on the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina – KUPRES

The KUPRES 2017 Conference: ̋Forestry and the Need for Sectoral Education on the European Path of Bosnia and Herzegovina ̋ was organized by ŠGD Hercegbosanske šume and the Croatian Wood Cluster on 9-10 February 2017, in Kupres, Bosnia & Herzegovina. EUSTAFOR’s Executive Director, Piotr Borkowski, gave an opening address as well as a full presentation on the relevance of the EU Energy Winter Package to European forests.

The main topic of KUPRES 2017 Conference was “Forestry and the Need for Sectoral Education on the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” EUSTAFOR supported organizations at the event which was the main annual conference of the entire forest-based sector in the Balkan region.

The objective of the conference was to encourage forestry and the wood processing sector of south-eastern European countries to improve their businesses through additional training of personnel, exchange of knowledge, application of new technologies and economic solutions as well as seeking means for greater use of EU funds made available for countries of the Balkan region. Additionally, the conference program included a keynote speech by MEP Marijana Petir (HR/EPP) on “What does Europe expect from its forests” as well as an overview of current EU policy developments relevant to forests and the forest-based sector.

Logo of Herzegbosnian Forests

Mr. Borkowski addressed the participants at the opening of the conference and, in a subsequent presentation, explained the relevance of the EU Energy Winter Package to European forests. He also outlined the main objectives and current activities of EUSTAFOR. Other presentations addressed the experiences of Hercegbosanske šume in demining forests and the resulting consequences for forestry practices in Bosnia & Herzegovina, environmental and market trends, the price of wood and wood assortments, the realization of capital investments in the sector, biomass and energy from wood, along with many other topics.