Value Chains for Forests and Wood – Austria

The idea is to increase value-added from forests and in regional wood processing addressing new markets with an attractive concept.

Biogeographical Region

Central, continental

Ecosystem Services

Tourism and Recreation, biodiversity, timber

Initial Pioneer Innovations

Network approaches

Innovation Stage

Articulation/ consolidating

What is the innovation about?

The idea is to increase value-added from forests and in regional wood processing addressing new markets with an attractive concept. On a regional level, the innovation is expected to lead to a more sustainable forest management and an increased collaboration of stakeholders from forestry, public administration, regional planning, tourism, and traditional craftsmanship in order to create value and support local jobs.

Initially, the innovation focused on a consumer demand-driven design, production, and marketing of high-value furniture goods, and its possible impact on remote areas with high land-use shares in forestry and high ecological standards. In the course of the project, it has been opened up in order to integrate other, broader ideas coming from stakeholders in the region. For example, collaborations between designers and carpenters as well as with regional development agencies have been initialized and are still in a process of change.

What makes this innovation a good example?

Wooded/Forest-rich areas may use their natural resources for creating value. Especially the consumer-demand related parts of the value chain have been thoroughly explored and developed, especially fostering cooperation between traders, carpenters, and designers. A broad range of results has been achieved: 1 market study, 5 design high school (CH, IT, LV, SE, UK) contests, 20 design drafts, jury assessments, 2 exhibitions, workshops with carpenters, press conferences, and publications.

Furthermore, the partners of “Love the Forest” learn from the coming generation about their values and views associated with the Swedish forest.

Where is the case study innovation located?

In the districts of Kirchdorf a.d. Krems and Steyr-Land / Upper Austria. The National Park Kalkalpen is located in these districts. Eighteen municipalities of the district signed a framework agreement with the National park, sharing a common vision. Most of the area around the National Park is managed environmentally friendly.

When was the innovation established, and by whom?

This innovation was initiated and established in the context of the project “Modular furniture from National park regions“ (2011-13); funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the European program „Europäische Territoriale Zusammenarbeit, Grenzübergreifendes Förderprogramm Interreg Bayern–Österreich 2007 – 2013.

This project was developed and led by STUDIA Schlierbach. Other direct partners were the “Möbel- und Holzbaucluster (MHC)”, located in Linz / Upper Austria, and the C.A.R.M.E.N. e.V. (Netzwerk Forst und Holz), located in Straubing / Bavaria in the vicinity of the German National Park Bayerischer Wald.

Why was the innovation established?

It fits into the Upper Austrian Innovation Strategy and Rural Development Strategy around National Parks. The project partners were concerned about developing the region by high qualified labor and value creation, using the natural resources of the region as well as caring for maintaining them. Many regional actors are regarded as important for bringing this innovation into practice.

Who is benefiting from the innovation?

Attractive forest-related products can be produced using local resources. This leads to increased sales, value-added and employment will be created along the whole wood-processing chain, starting from forestry up to the final consumer, including sawmills, carpenters, designers, special trade, distribution, communication and R&D.

Does the innovation need particular natural conditions to work? If so, what kind?

The wood processed in this innovation needs to be slowly-growing, high-value wood, especially from old growth forest. This is available in the vicinity of the case study region/the National Park Kalkalpen.

Does the innovation need particular forest management strategies to work? If so, what kind?

Forest management should allow selective timber extraction, replanting of adequate species, and actively support the high-value wood processing chain. These forest management strategies also contribute to nature conservation, sustainability, and regional heritage.

Does the innovation need particular policies, stakeholder, or market conditions to work? If so, which one?

Policies should trigger vertical cooperation. Also necessary are financial and other support programs to strengthen innovation in rural areas and fostering communication with urban customers. Stakeholders and activities across the whole value chain, i.e. forestry, sawmills, carpenters, design – contests, trade/logistics / IT market interaction, exhibitions, media should be included. A demand for longevity and high-value consumer goods will constitute favorable market conditions.

What are the main difficulties for the innovation to work?

Small carpenters often lack capacity to cooperate with each other, to cooperate with designers, or to engage in marketing activities beyond individual face-to-face communication and direct sales.

Where would you like to see the innovation in five years?

Business links between forestry and carpenters, carpenters and designers, carpenters and sales people and further stakeholders are strengthened.

How might InnoForESt help you in this endeavor?

First, InnoForESt could help to follow up the initial innovation of the Modular Furniture project, allowing former participants to detail their innovation with partners. Second, the project could support stakeholders to explore a broader diversity of high-value wood processing options, including also timber building (houses) and wood made jewelry.

Is there more information on the innovation available?

Video: Introduction to the Innovation Region

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