Woodworking Industries in European Regions: LIGNA 23 Workshop Insights

On 18 May 2023, the Bioregions Facility hosted a workshop called Woodworking Industries in European Regions: Current Situation, Development Pathways and Investment Trends at LIGNA 2023 in Hanover, Germany.

Oskar Azkarate, Baskegur, at LIGNA 2023.

The General Director of Baskegur, Oskar Azkarate, emphasised the significance of a regional bioeconomy strategy, such as the Strategic Plan for Timber in the Basque Country (PEMA in Spanish) and Basque Circular Forest-based Bioeconomy Strategy. These initiatives aim to establish a comprehensive framework for advancing forestry in the region. To illustrate, the Basque Country Forest Bioeconomy Profile developed by the Bioregions Facility provides an overview of the regional bioeconomy innovation ecosystem in the Basque Country.

Next, Martin Schwarz from Wald und Holz in North Rhine-Westphalia shared his insights. In a region with a population of approximately 18 million, wood serves as the primary construction material. With the growing need for housing and apartments in urban areas, there has been a rising demand for wooden materials in urban construction, building modernisation, refurbishment and social housing projects. The legislation now permits wooden multi-storey buildings of up to eight stories, essential for promoting sustainable development in the construction sector and reducing carbon footprint.

Developing a bioeconomy strategy and the support provided by municipalities in utilising wood is essential for the forestry sector. However, the question arises: how can we give timber a higher value? Inazio Martinez, a researcher at EFI and coordinator of the Bioregions Facility, asked Manuel García Barbero, an architect and Wood Construction Manager at CESEFOR, regarding Castilla y Léon’s approach to increasing the value of its timber.

Inazio Martinez, Bioregions Facility, and Manuel García Barbero, CESEFOR, at LIGNA 2023

“In Spain, we have forest fires, and the problem is probably the abandonment of forests. It’s been demonstrated that things that are valued are better cared for,” stated Mr Barbero. While many believe forests should be left untouched, Spain’s forests require a different perspective, as they thrive through active management. Society has adopted the notion that forests should no longer be managed. Still, this approach leads to imbalances and problems — fire plays a natural role in forests by clearing brush and eliminating dead trees, for instance.

Eduard Correal Mòdol, representing the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia, concluded the discussion by presenting how forests have been managed in Catalonia, which bears similarities to those of Castilla y León. With over 60% of the region’s land covered by forests, Catalonia faces an increasing threat from wildfires as climate change advances in Spain. It is imperative to manage forests and fires effectively while educating the public about their natural occurrence.

Participating in LIGNA has been invaluable in acquiring knowledge about sustainable wood processing practices and discovering how they can be incorporated into our work at the Bioregions Facility.

Experts gathered to debate sustainable forest management models and complementary foresty in Bizkaia

The Department of Sustainability and Natural Environment of Bizkaia organized on November 15 and 16 a conference that discussed the models of sustainable forest management and complementary forestry. The event examined the European context, the new trends in the field, and several practical examples of efficient management of forest resources.

These meetings, which had the collaboration of the UPV/EHU (The University of the Basque Country) and the USSE (Union of Foresters of Southern Europe), opened with a series of talks given by international experts, including Bernhard Wolfslehner, the representative of Forest Europe who opened the day by giving a vision of the European context in the field of sustainable forest management.

This presentation was followed by conferences on sustainable forest management of private forests and public forests, as well as on management closer to nature. Inazio Martinez de Arano from the Bioregions Facility, together with speakers from the European Confederation of Forest Owners (CEPF), Eustafor (European State Forest Association) and ProSilva participated in the round table “The forest as the green engine of the bioeconomy”, in which he mentioned the challenges and opportunities of using forest resources to support the bioeconomy. He highlighted: “Forests have an important role in supporting the circular economy through the potential of biomaterials and their low carbon footprint. We also need to learn how to use biological elements in cities, not only in construction but also taking into account the ecosystem services that they provide, it is crucial to take care of the forests for purposes such as tourism.”

Watch the video here

The conference continued with the presentations of practical examples of sustainable forest management in Sweden, Italy, Central Europe, and Southern Europe by experts from the Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners, Etifor, Mayr Meinnol Forst and the Arume Foundation. In other round tables, experts debated topics such as: models of sustainable forest management, ecosystem services, and adaptation to climate change and risk management.

Bioeconomy business opportunities presented at Intergune 2022

NEIKER’s general manager presented the interesting business opportunities offered by the bioeconomy in Europe during her speech at Intergune 2022, a conference on Internationalisation organised by SPRI Group, the Basque Business Development Agency.

The event brings together and details all the services, financing and aid that the Basque Government makes available to companies and entrepreneurs in the Basque Country to start or expand their activity abroad.

Egurtek closes its 9th edition confirming the value of wood as a material of the future

Egurtek, the International Forum of Architecture & Construction in Wood, has closed its 9th edition. The main objectives of the forum are gathering all the advances in the wood construction & architecture field and promoting new synergies. The event reconfirmed the value of wood as a sustainable material for the future with exceptional qualities for construction. Nearly 1,300 professionals attended the event, confirming the solidity of the event and its suitability as a meeting place.

Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government opened the Egurtek event on 19 October: “Wood is a material for the future. Egurtek is not a forum that only promotes the use of wood, but one that plays a very important role because it reflects the entire value chain. It is not limited only to design and construction, but to forest management, technicians… it refers to all the links”.

In addition to the large congress room, Egurtek offers their visitors also the opportunity to join the Technical conferences, the Speaker’s corner and the Expo area. At the Technical conferences, Bittor Oroz Izagirre, Vice-minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque government, and Leire Barañano, general manager of NEIKER BRTA, both mentioned the EFI Bioregions Facility as key actor to support the transition of the Basque Country towards a circular, territorial-based bioeconomy. The Technical conferences also provided a stage for projects to present their ongoing work: Basajaun, BEHS and Eguralt.

Visitors interested in innovative solutions and the latest trends in wood construction were satisfied to see more than 50 exhibitors in the Expo area, representing the latest innovations in wood construction. The Expo area also featured a Speakers’ Corner, a space where exhibitors gave dynamic and agile presentations about the main innovations which they represented at the forum.

EGURTEK – The 9th International Forum on Architecture and Construction in Wood

Egurtek is a biennial forum for sharing information about timber architecture and construction. The event gathers specialists who wish to keep up to date with wood construction projects. Participants range from architects, architectural technicians, engineers, construction specialists, Municipal Councils and Public Bodies, to Universities and Research Centres. At Egurtek, participants will learn about the leading international projects on wood construction and will have the opportunity to interact directly with the presenters in active debates.

Egurtek will offer varied activities, such as technical seminars, an exhibition and sales area and awards, making it a highly dynamic, high-performing, benchmark event for all participants.

The technical seminars will present and discuss initiatives on wood innovation, training in the forestry/woodworking sector and the forest bioeconomy. Two of the projects that will be presented are the Eguralt and Basajaun projects. The Eguralt project aims to experiment with the application of new processes, products and technologies to optimize the use of wood in the construction of mid-rise buildings; and the Basajaun project works on demonstrating how wood construction chains can be optimized to foster both rural development and urban transformation whilst being connected with sustainable forest management in Europe.

At the Expo area, exhibitors will offer products and services related to architecture, wooden homes, wood treatment, sustainable construction, journals, associations, engineering and decoration, wood for construction, software for structures and importers or wood, elements and materials.

The event will be held on 19 – 20 October 2022 in Bilbao, Spain.

 Registration: Egurtek | Bilbao Exhibition Centre | BEC

BIND4.0 opened international call for innovative technology startups

BIND4.0 (Basque Industry Open Innovation Platform) was launched in the Basque Country, an Industry hub with a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, in order to connect innovative startups worldwide with industry leading companies. BIND 4.0 facilitates the development of transformative Industry 4.0 projects while providing unparalleled business support due to the region’s strategic long term commitment to Industry and Innovation.

BIND4.0 has a yearly call for innovative technology startups in the fields of Intelligent industry, Clean energy & sustainability, Health and Food. 2022 registration is now open.

Benefits for the successful candidates include:

  • Validate and implement disruptive solutions
  • Receive one or more paid industry 4.0 projects
  • Meet 80+ industry leading potential clients
  • No equity is taken
  • 24 weeks of high impact mentoring
  • Access 20+ specialised VC investors
  • Get immersed in the Basque industrial hub

More information

About BIND 4.0

BIND 4.0 is a public-private initiative funded by the Basque Government and the Department of Economic Development Sustainability and Environment through the SPRI Group. The SPRI Group is the Basque Government’s business development agency leading and supporting the local entrepreneurship ecosystem through its UpEuskadi platform.

Partnerships for Regional Innovation: First pilot plenary meeting

The Partnerships for Regional Innovation – PRI Pilot Action held its first pilot plenary meeting on 7 July 2022. The initiative was launched in June jointly by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. The first plenary meeting was an interactive event to generate discussions, dialogue, and co-creation among all PRI Pilot participants. It presented the policy context around PRI, the PRI Playbook and a proposal for a PRI Pilot roadmap, outlining the organization of pilot activities

Bioregions Facility has been selected to participate in the pilot project as a group of regions, consisting of its current regional members: Basque Country; North Rhine-Westphalia; and North Karelia. Representatives of the Facility joined the event, together with more than 150 participants.

The online event, started with the presentation of the New Innovation Agenda for Europe and PRI, highlighting the need of a holistic approach, investment, diffusion, circular economy, and innovation to tackle global challenges such as climate change. The work that PRI does at a regional level was also emphasized, including establishing networks, creating cooperation and consortia in regions working in the same value chain.

A call was made to select a contact person representing each region with an academic or scientific background to act as a scientific track and maintain constant interaction with the directive.

The PRI Playbook

During the event, the PRI Playbook was presented as a guidance document, containing a range of tools and mechanisms to coordinate and enable the exploration of broad-ranging policy mixes for system-level innovation. The playbook will act as an empowering tool for policymakers and should be adapted to European realities, as it will be co-created via joint work and with feedback from the regions.

It contains a Toolbox that gathers 68 tools for diagnosis, policy design and implementation; and three building blocks as an initial approach to be co-developed through the pilot: Open Discovery Process, Policy and Action Mix and the Strategic Policy framework. Three working groups will be working around each building block.

The event ended with a discussion and feedback from pilot participants from the different participant regions, and final remarks from the EU committee.

Michal Miedzinski, economic and policy researcher at JRC said: “This is a collective effort from the bottom, with the best minds we can gather and do a collation of the willing, these are all the ingredients we need to move forward“.

Thomas Wobben, Director at Committee of the Regions gave a strong final message: “We really hope that this collaboration is building on trust, that we are able to have a frank exchange, and that we can help each other”


The Partnerships are rooted in the upcoming Innovation Agenda for Europe to help integrate initiatives and investment at EU and national levels. It is an effort directly targeted to improve Innovation ecosystems as one essential area to boost Europe’s innovation performance. The key objective is to strengthen interconnection of regional and local innovation ecosystems for a green and digital Europe and to improve resilience of European sustainable value chains and deep-tech sectors.

Forest bioeconomy highlighted as opportunity for the Basque Country in Baskegur General Assembly

The Basque association of the forestry and wood sector, Baskegur, held its general assembly on 22 June. After the event, they held a session to reflect on the market situation and future challenges. There, bioeconomy was highlighted to provide great opportunities in the Basque Country.

As the Basque Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Bittor Oroz, tweeted “The forest & wood sector in the Basque Country is the main source of natural, renewable raw materials and the basis of the circular bioeconomy. With sustainable forest management, it contributes to the Basque Green Deal strategy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

NEIKER is seeking an Assistant Researcher in Irregular Silviculture

NEIKER, the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, is opening a one-year Post-doc position (with potential for prolongation) on climate smart forestry. The tasks of the successful candidate include:

  1. Design and execution of the transformation of even-age and homogeneous stands into structurally diverse stands, using natural processes to create forest masses with greater resistance and resilience to climate change.
  2. Modelling of forestry dynamics to propose forestry solutions that improve the quantity and quality of water for urban supply.
  3. Collaboration in research projects in the area covered by the call in its phases (preparation of research proposals, project management and development, contact with relevant agents, preparation of deliverables, diffusion of results, etc.)
  4. Application of successful cases of forestry adaptation to climate change to the reality of the Basque Country for their implementation.

More information

Photo: Tumisu via Pixabay