Biodiversity: Promoting healthy forests - strengthening the Austrian economy

The amount of wood sustainably harvested in Austria's forests is the basis for the domestic value-added chain of wood and secures 172,000 enterprises with over 300,000 jobs. The current approaches of the Biodiversity Strategy Austria 2030 take important ecological factors into account. Economic aspects, which are essential for the existence of the domestic wood and paper industry in particular, have so far been ignored.

The Austrian wood and paper industry supports the continuation of the biodiversity strategy with a view to the coming decade and reaffirms the goal of protecting biological diversity and using it through sustainable forest management. However, the present consultation paper of the Austrian Ministry of Climate (BMK) contains approaches that imply a massive reduction of the raw material base for the entire value chain of wood in Austria.

Taking out of use with negative effects on the economy and climate

The industry is particularly critical of the planned decommissioning of large forest areas, which will then no longer be available for sustainable forest management and timber harvesting. The promotion of a "segregative" instead of an "integrative forest management" endangers forest protection, with incalculable consequences for the multifunctionality of the adjacent commercial and protection forests. The reduction of the wood supply would inevitably lead to negative economic effects. The loss of numerous jobs, a significant drop in exports and domestic value added would be serious consequences. Inevitably, the pressure to procure raw materials from countries with much lower forest management standards would also increase.

A study of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences comes to the conclusion that a disuse of 10% of the Austrian forest area already brings a number of disadvantages. There would be an intensification of the use of the remaining areas and a shift of use, especially to neighbouring countries. Moreover, the achievement of the climate and energy targets set (climate neutrality 2040) would be counteracted by elements of the current biodiversity strategy. It is precisely in the field of renewable energies that wood makes the greatest contribution. Among other things, the wood and paper industry supplies tens of thousands of households with climate-neutral heat through process-related waste heat. But also in the field of bio-economy and in timber construction the raw material wood is needed. The current study "CareForParis" clearly shows that the greatest lever for climate protection is the replacement of CO2-intensive raw materials with wood products. Reduced wood use - by putting forests out of use - leads to higher emissions of fossil carbon.

Every year in Austria 4.2 million cubic metres more wood grows back than is used. The forest is therefore a renewable energy and raw material supplier for a climate-friendly future. Forests and wood therefore play a key role in climate protection and Austria as a business location.

Dialogue with industry and the wood value chain essential

"It would be important to find a goal-oriented solution - one that takes into account the ecological as well as economic framework conditions in Austria. Especially now, in addition to a healthy forest, we need to preserve the economy and jobs in the country", appealed Herbert Jöbstl, Deputy Chairman of the Austrian Timber Industry, and he hoped that the efficiency of the value-added chain of wood in Austria would not only be maintained, but rather strengthened. Dr. Kurt Maier, Chairman of Austropapier, also underlines that a dialogue with politicians in this regard is indispensable in order to ensure a meaningful and efficient environmental and economic policy.

The Austrian wood and paper industry is part of the wood value chain alongside forestry. With a production value of about 12 billion euros and an average annual export surplus of 4 billion euros, the forest and timber sector is one of the most important pillars of Austria's business location.

Further inquiries

Austropapier
Julia Löwenstein
Public Relations
Mail: julia.loewenstein@austropapier.at

Austrian Timber Industry Association
Nicolas Snoy
Communication / Public Relations
Tel.: +43 (0)1 / 712 26 01 - 21 | E-Mail: snoy@holzindustrie.at

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