Discussion of the added value potential along the Swiss wood chain

In mid-June, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) published a comprehensive analysis of the value-added chain for forests and wood in Switzerland - for the dialogue platform "Provisioning and sustainable use of wood" of NRP 66, the perfect occasion to bring the study's commissioners and authors together for discussions with interested researchers.

Four research teams of NRP 66 are studying the cross-cutting topics timber mobilisation and sustainable use of wood. The analysis and synthesis of the value-added chain for forests and wood in Switzerland commissioned by the FOEN is the first comprehensive Swiss study on this topic, containing interesting parallels and links to the work of the NRP 66 research teams. On 27 August 2014, the researchers met a delegation of the team of authors, including Ludwig Lehner (bwc management consulting GmbH), Bernhard Pauli (School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, BFH-HAFL) and Ulrike Krafft, member of the steering committee of the FOEN's Wood Action Plan.

Contents of the study

Lehner and his team had taken a close look at the Swiss forestry and wood sector in the past months, defined value chains, examined volumes and added value at every level, and conducted a SWOT analysis. On the basis of this research, they were able to identify gaps in the value-added chain and develop scenarios for filling them. An advisory group (composed of representatives of various professional associations) and the Wood Forum (advisory body to the FOEN) assisted the authors in their research work and in deriving recommendations, in particular.

What researchers of NRP 66 are interested in

The half-day event held at the end of August focused on specialist terminology and definitions as well as on the collected data and their further use. The participants also discussed the optimum size of forestry operations and sawmills, the current market structure and numerous factors - from timber prices to government subsidies to the value judgements of individuals - which still stand in the way of the commercial exploitation of Swiss forests.

Reform process and communication

According to the authors, exploiting the existing value-added potentials requires a holistic reform process, in which the sceptics and opponents of change are included at an early stage, as well as powerful communication tools. The dialogue platforms of NRP 66 will support the implementation of one or the other recommendation from the study in consultation with the FOEN.