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Energy efficiency and renewable energies are top priorities for an Europe running towards a low-carbon economy. Five protected areas from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Greece are proving that local, affordable and sustainable energy can be a reality for Europe, leading the way towards sustainable wood biomass exploitation.

In the context of the EU’s policy on renewable energy summarized as the 20/20/20 target (20% renewable energy, 20% greenhouse gas reduction and 20% reduction in energy consumption by the year 2020), the production of heat and energy through biomass constitutes an important pillar. Therefore, the European Union has been supporting pilot-initiatives to find new solutions for sustainable energy production, and solid biomass is amongst the possibilities to explore.

During 3 years, parks from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Greece developed small-scale supply chains for solid biomass at a local scale, under the BioEUParks project, partly funded by the European Union. By making use of forest resources and involving local authorities, landowners and businesses, partners developed five models of solid biomass supply-chains, which can now be replicated by other protected areas across Europe. As the main guardians of European biodiversity, protected areas are in a leading position for managing sustainable biomass exploitation, without compromising natural values. Besides, they play an important role as neutral facilitators of the process, by bringing together actors with different needs and expectations.

The development of local supply chains is profoundly influenced by the social, ecologic and economic assets of each country. BioEuParks partners, facing different contexts and challenges, developed tailor-made solutions for their areas. In Rodopi National Park, Greece, to tackle the high costs of installation, a local enterprise was challenged to create a leasing system that enables small-scale producers to process their wood. A win-win solution for business parties, where the local authorities are not able to invest in the needed infrastructures. In Danube-Ipoly National Park, Hungary, the development of a supply chain was at the same time a solution for the removal of invasive species – a major problem in many protected areas across Europe. In Sila National Park, Italy, after a long run of unsuccessful attempts to link local producers and businesses, the Park decided to lead by example and opened call for local producers for the supply of Park´s own heating system.

On the 3rd of March in Brussels, project partners will provide an in-depth analysis of the BioEUParks results and present case studies for setting up local biomass supply chains in Protected Areas. Keynote speakers coming from European Union institution such as ESMAE, DG Agriculture and DG Energy, will provide a framework of the current priorities to improve sustainable energy in Europe. Several authorities in the fields of renewable energy, protected areas and forestry will also contribute to the discussion highlighting challenges and opportunities arising from the sustainable exploitation of solid biomass.

The conference is hosted by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) with the patronage and contribution of Mr. Roby Biwer, member of the CoR and rapporteur on the fitness check of Nature Directives. The complete programme and registration is available at www.bioeuparks.eu. Registration is free and the invitation is extended to all protected areas managers, organisations involved in the area of bio-energy, biomass and sustainable resources, EU policy and decision makers and the wider audience interested in this subject.

 

BioEUParks was created in 2012 under the proposed priority ‘Solid biomass’ of the European Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE).

For further information please contact EUROPARC Federation :

Damien de Chanterac: d.dechanterac@europarc.org /+49 (0) 941 5993598-03

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