The results obtained since Interreg Sudoe Project started, back in 2018, are now available.
SustForest Plus is a transnational initiative co-funded by the Interreg Sudoe Program through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). For three years, the Program worked to capitalise on the efforts made for the SusForest Project. The SusForest Project was carried out from 2010 to 2013 to lay down longer-term strategies and to create steady joint-collaboration networks aimed at attaining the objectives set by the European natural resin sector:
Developing a Strategy for the European Natural Resin (ENRS)
The Strategy established for the Forestry Use of the European Natural Resins (ENRS) is considered a sectorial strategy of territorial nature that allows European natural resin producers to take coordinated actions through a territorial network jointly managed to plan, improve and coordinate competitively the supply of products against the non-EU sources.
Furthermore, the strategy allows the sector representatives to bring their objectives forward to those publically responsible to make decisions and it will be used as an instrument for promoting the integration of the natural resin sector in the European, national and regional policies.
The European Resin-Producing Territories Network is the Body in Charge of Managing the Strategy.
Technically the strategy is a document divided in two large blocks:
Designing strategic tools
The SustForest Project was used to identify the constraints of structural nature that hinder the mobilization and improvement of the resin resource in southern Europe. Smallholdings, forest fires, the lack of long-term forestry research, the lack of predictive production models, the potential of improved resin genetics or the reluctance of some owners to integrate resin extraction practice into other forestry uses are among the constraints that have an impact on some large areas of the European resin territory. For SustForest Plus, the development of technical and innovative solutions to solve the specific problems listed above can be considered. These solutions could be used in a well-organised and strategic manner on thousands of hectares of resin land in South-West Europe through the ENRS.
The second set of tasks for the SustForest Plus Project is designed to support resin workers and it develops a set of products that shape a real Plan to improve the quality of their working conditions and the sustainability of their job as resin workers.
The population involved in resin activities
It is necessary to get to know the population involved in resin-related activities, their attributes and shortcomings in order to implement the supporting measures for the resin-extraction activity. By doing so, the potential improvement programs and actions focused on this group of people can be adjusted and designed. To this end, a sociological study of the population involved in resin-related activities is accomplished in the SUDOE space aimed at providing a socio-labour description of the real resin working population and thus guiding actions and institutional policies. Furthermore, the supporting measures for this group of people are designed in a more detail way through SustForest Plus.
A guide is developed to draw up the regulatory standards of the land use agreement which is adapted to the resin tapping activity. This type of land use agreement will allow resin workers to access different financing sources that apply to their activity through their adherence to individual and specific commitments with the forestry administrations.
Available here: Institutional Supporting System for Extracting Natural Resins.
SustForest Plus examines the positive externalities from resin tapping, that is, public benefits environmentally and socially speaking, but specially in terms of forest fires protection, delivered by forest and resin producers, and from which the society benefit without paying for it. By acknowledging the positive externalities from the resin production activity, new income sources for resin producers would be generated, which would lead to better working conditions.
The intense presence of humans in pine groves would be guaranteed by resin tapping and, if the DFCI system is suitably integrated, the related tasks would likely make resin workers very useful local stakeholders at protecting forest areas against forestry fires. By acknowledging the resin tapping activity integration into the DFCI system and by having the government institutions endorsing its inclusion in the rural development programs, new financing sources to hire resin workers would be generated. For this reason, we may say that this product helps to improve the resin workers’ working conditions.
A socially innovative program with a bottom-up approach mainly addressed to resin workers based in the SUDOE space, but also to the entrepreneurial region in general, is suggested. This program will be aimed at generating technical ideas to improve performances and the ergonomics of resin-production tasks, but also at delivering business solutions with new business models, new products and new marketing approaches that would allow improving the economic feasibility of the resin-extraction activity.
Often times resin tappers work in places affected by rural flight where human presence is scarce and which inevitably led to the end of some important land uses. It is difficult to re-launch these uses in isolation; however greater sustainability can be achieved if it is integrated in the resin workers activity from a multifunctional prospect. A detailed review of resin workers’ work schedule based on specific cases is suggested to assess how compatible that is with other complementary uses.
For resin tappers, a pilot training course will be designed and delivered and a published manual to program a training module will be provided for their upgrade and workplace integration.
SustForest Plus undertakes the Remasa machined truck development.
Resin-production enhancers are one of the key elements to obtain improvements in pine resin extraction, as far as profitability and working conditions concern.
A manual to manufacture the traditional resin tapping tools will be published: scraper, smother, tracer, half moon, pine tapping knife, vaporisateur de stimulant, pine tapping knife for pole and small scraper.
SustForest Plus undertakes its third group of tasks, that is, making a set of products that can be considered as a Plan to Promote the European Natural Resins as a Technological and Sustainable Product.
The European Natural Resin Value Chain
The different stakeholders involved in the production process of by-products made of the southern European natural resins are examined in the Framework of SustForest Plus, from the forest to the final consumer. In this way, an outlook of the material flows and information, the added value distribution and the appraisal of the product features throughout the value chain is provided. This study will allow identifying those aspects that are determining for the optimization and improvement of productivity, efficiency, transparency and the increase of the added value.
The resin and the low-carbon economy
The carbon balance from producing the European natural resin is reviewed in order to highlight its environmental value compared to the oil-derived resins, Tall-Oil by-products and non-EU natural resins. If these facts are properly grounded when reaching the end customer, who is becoming more concerned about environmental matters, the product will be more highly rated which will be translated into an increase of the profitability of the resin production and the territorial expansion as a result.
The European Natural Resin
The guarantee marks of origin are instruments perfectly adapted to the objective set for the 'integrated territorial development' through the value chain. These marks somehow 'restructure' the traditional forestry activities, such as the extraction of natural resins, which turn them into others of greater added value, linking them to the industrial sector and the final consumer. The foundations to create this distinctive that differentiates the European forest-sourced natural resin from other non-EU sourced products on the market and other substitute products, were laid down with SustForest Plus through an action taken in cooperation with representatives of every value chain link of the European resin sector.
Traceability of the Natural Resin
Due to the growing global concern about environmental problems, in recent decades traceability systems have acquired crucial importance as a solution to control the origin and ensure sustainable practices for the use and marketing of forest products. SustForest Plus designed and developed a traceability system based on a computer application that allows a real-time documented resin path from its extraction in the forest to the factory where the initial processing takes place.
This traceability of the product will make the European sourced-resin accreditation easier; it will be used as a business management tool for the initial processing companies; and it will facilitate the monitoring and closing procedures of transactions between resin producers and companies
The International Natural Resin Trade
SustForest Plus is set to design a structured instrument for gathering and reviewing information on the international market for resinous products. This monitoring tool will allow foreseeing the positive or negative circumstances related to the European resin-producing sector itself, its clients and its competitors. The designed system will increase market transparency and it will allow taking better informed decisions on the production and marketing of natural resins, both for individual operators and for sectorial organizations such as the European Network of Resin Territories.