Collaborative networks on resin as raw material for the bioeconomy

Challenges in the resin sector identified during the H2020 INCREDIBLE project Science to Practice Webinar “Collaborative networks on resin as raw material for the bioeconomy”.

Photo: INCREdible
Photo: INCREdible

Within the European Thematic Network INCREDIBLE, the Innovation Network on Pine Resins organised on 16 December an online Science to Practice event “Collaborative networks on resin as raw material for the bioeconomy”. The event was addressed to stakeholders in the resin sector, forest owners and managers, technicians, resin tappers, industry, and researchers.

The natural resin obtained from maritime pine forests in south-western Europe is a high-quality, sustainable and renewable non-wood forest product for cosmetic uses and in the food and chemical industries. Its production is an important source of rural employment in the pine regions, as well as an annual income for the forest owner that supplements the sale of wood. However, the resin trade is hard, and possible opportunities for improvement and innovation must be developed and taken advantage of.

Experiments of new extraction techniques, their possible better compatibility with the production of roundwood, as well as the study of the influence of genetic, climatic and site factors require controlled long-term resin trials replicated in the territory, using common protocols and exchange or common data analysis.

Another challenge is to improve the link between resin territories and their actors. The geographical and labour isolation of individual autonomous resin producers and local forest owners can be overcome in today’s hyper-connected world through communication channels and networks. A better flow of information on production, productivity and prices should contribute to greater transparency in the value chain, through a resin observatory and the improvement of the ministry’s forestry information and statistics system.

The round table discussion found that if any official statistic and information system for NWFP relay on the diligence of reporting bottom-up and with plausibility checks and as long as input data are incomplete, global figures will underrepresent actual productions. For example, pine cones are exported unprocessed between Portugal, Spain and Italy, hence, the location of pine nut extraction can be quite distant from the place the cones were harvested. Only due diligence of all value chain actors for reporting actual flows and transactions will allow for sound figures.

In case of resin, where there are no different prices for quality classes, as for instance in cork, the most interesting value for forest owners and resin tapper would be to know the resin yield per tree (ranging from 2 to more than 5 kg per year) in order to be able to predict expected annual yield and agree fair fees for resin leases. Nevertheless, up to present, very few regional reference values are known, and research is needed to predict yields from tree parameters. Sectoral integration and collaboration can contribute data and help the public institutions to improve official statistics.

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‘Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean basin’ (INCREDIBLE) promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation to highlight the value and potential of Non-Wood Forest Products to support sustainable forest management and rural development. INCREDIBLE is coordinated by the European Forest Institute, bringing together universities, research centres and professional organisations.