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Wood discussed as major part of Slovenia's green future

Ljubljana, 11 November (STA) - The main event of the Slovenian wood processing industry heard on Wednesday that the numerous positive features of wood may play a major role in a green future of the country's economy. The state intends to encourage greater use of wood by changing public procurement rules, and to support the national industry with tens of millions of euros.

The first day of the Day of the Slovenian Wood Industry event, entitled Wood - Our Green Future, was held on-line and hosted by the trade promotion agency SPIRIT Slovenia, the Economy Ministry and the Wood Industry Cluster.

According to the organisers, the event looks to recognise trends, challenges and opportunities for the Slovenian wood processing industry and present examples of best practice in introducing circular economy.

"Wood has great applicability in construction and high added value products. It is also a renewable resource...which enables a green breakthrough of the Slovenian industry and lower greenhouse gas emissions," Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said.

The mean annual increment in Slovenia is nine million cubic metres of timber, while 5.3 million cubic metres was felled last year. Slovenian companies processed around two million cubic metres, while three million cubic metres, including scrap wood, was exported in 2019, Počivalšek illustrated.

He reiterated that the state wanted to increase annual domestic production to three million cubic metres, to increase the share of wood in public buildings to 30% and the number of employees in the industry to 15,000, as well as to increase sales to EUR 2.5 billion a year.

The minister added that the industry, including the furniture sector, had been recording positive trends in recent years. "Between 2010 and 2019, the number of companies increased by 14%, sales revenue was up by 35%, and added value per employee by 73%."

Numerous other industries, including the cellulose, paper and construction industries are tied to the wood processing industry, and these industries generate around 2.6 billion in sales revenue a year, he said.

The state supports the industry with various incentives, including with a call for applications for development of new products, worth EUR 6.2 million, which the Economy Ministry plans to expand by another EUR 2 million.

Around EUR 28 million in grants and EUR 60 million in other financial instruments will be available as part of the recovery and resilience fund, and the state also wants to secure additional funds in the talks for the next EU financial perspective, Počivalšek added.

The minister also insists on the plan under which at least four major locations for wood processing need to be set up in the country, which would become regional accelerators of the development of the forestry-wood chain.

Danilo Anton Ranc of the Wood Industry Directorate spoke at a press conference as part of the event about the goal to increase the share of wood in public buildings to 30%, saying that a relevant decree had been in force in Slovenia for ten years.

"This measure was very positive and it increased the number of constructors of wood buildings from 20 and 100, and increased sales of these companies," he said, adding that the government was working on reintroducing such a decree.

According to Ranc, relevant changes to the decree on green public procurement are undergoing inter-ministerial coordination, while the government also wants to add a provision on the mandatory use of wood in noise barriers along roads.

SPIRIT acting director Tomaž Kostanjevec noted that the agency had earmarked EUR 200,000 for the promotion of the industry this year, and that the financial support and other activities would be further boosted next year.

Kostanjevec said that the best wood construction projects in the last five years would receive awards as part of the event, adding that the projects "prove that wood is an adequate material for residential, public, industrial, commercial and other buildings."

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