Supporting the natural resin industry: a common challenge

In recent years, many men and women have chosen to start resination activities in European forests. A vocational profession that contributes like no other to the conservation of the environment; a profession that is valued by society and that engages those who try it. However, the competition on the international resin market is very tough and to keep our jobs, to make them profitable, we European resin workers have to be the best.

The Resin Innovation Challenge, launched by the SustForest Plus project, counted nine participants who presented a total of twelve ideas for optimizing the activity of European resin workers.

The SustForest Plus project launched in January the Resin Innovation Challenge, an initiative that aims at bringing together some of the best innovative ideas that contribute to improve the quality of work and profitability of the resin trade. The goal is to make the resin extraction a business with a future.

This initiative adressed to the resin community in Spain, France and Portugal resulted in a total of twelve proposals from nine participants, all of them from Spain.

Initially, a meeting of the jury was scheduled to proceed with the deliberation and designation of the winners, as part of the activities of the international conference " Resin, a business with a future", on the 10th and 11th March. However, these meetings had to be suspended, so the organization took the decision to evaluate the proposals through telematic meetings of the jury members.

Despite the circumstances, it was possible to count on an international jury made up of a committee of twelve experts of the SustForest Plus project, representing the entire European natural resin value chain, from forest owners to managers, resin producers, industrialists and research entities from Spain, France and Portugal.

Following the deliberations of the committee of experts, three winners out of five finalists have been nominated: the DRIADA project for forest data management; the innovative resin pot; and the PINELAB Little Big Factory, an initiative that aims at developing natural resin-based products for food and cosmetic sectors. The other two finalists were the Resdron Method, which applies remote sensing to the estimation of resin production, and MARTRAK, a new resin tractor. 

The Winners of the Challenge

The DRIADA project consists of a platform that contains all key data on forests for the management and use of resin resources. This will allow to know in real time the number of trees, the cubic meters of wood available, the species and fauna that inhabit them, the monitoring of signs and signals, the amount of resin of each pine and the best route to follow to collect resin.

The project "A new resin pot" aims at replacing the traditional plastic pot or container where the resin from the tree is collected with one of rosin plastisols, so to make a good use of both the container and its content.

The project PINELAB "The Little Big Factory" proposes the creation of a local cooperative to develop the use of resin by-products for the cosmetic and food industry. The goal is to create a small engine for the local economy with an impact on rural employment, generating an identity of origin and quality mark through the resin transformation directly in its territories. In this way, sustainable and ultra-natural products, highly demanded by consumers, are placed on the market.

The Finalists of the Challenge

The RESDRÓN Method consists of detecting the most suitable masses for the resin extraction to increase the profitability of this activity. Innovative tools are used to obtain indices relating to the physiological state of forest stands. In this way, it is possible to obtain multispectral images captured by drones and hyperspectral images with a spectroradiometer. These images will be put in relation to the resin flow that will be determined through small incisions in the trunk.

MARTRAK, the resin tractor is equipped with a motor and four-wheel drive with a capacity to carry four 200-kg resin drums. This tractor allows the automatic emptying of resin pots without effort for the operator and is equipped with lights. The advantage over the traditional manual system lies in the semplicity of use. The efforts and the number of hours needed are now reduced and it can also be used for stimulation work, plus there’s the possibility to work at night.

Development of the winning ideas

All participants in the Resin Innovation Challenge, as well as other entrepreneurs, will be able to present their ideas at the international event idiForest, the emerging innovation and technology for non-timber forest products. They will be advised by technologists and experts for the development of business ideas in order to bring their initiatives to the market.

The three Challenge winners will be invited to participate in idiForest with all expenses paid. This event, initially scheduled for April 2020, has been postponed due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures at both national and international level. IdiForest will take place in the city of Soria (Spain) when circumstances allow it. For more information about the idiForest event visit the SustForest Plus project website.

The European Network of Resin Regions

The Resin Innovation Challenge emerged as an activity of the European Network of Resin Regions (ENRR) through the SustForest Plus project, which is co-financed by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The ENRR wants to be a reference organisation in the natural resin sector at European level. The objective is to integrate all members of its value chain and to lead those initiatives that increase the profitability and the visibility of the sector, promoting the products manufacture that meet the sustainable development goals and obtaining support from public authorities.