The turnover of Germany’s forest and wood cluster is 168 billion euros. However, this “green treasure” is not used efficiently enough. It is the goal of the competence centre LIGNOSAX in Saxony to become one of the leading lignotechnology exporters in Europe and to better establish wood in Germany’s energy and raw materials sector through connected research, product and process innovations and efficient transfer.
Increasing consumption of resources, climate change and demographic changes increasingly influence social developments on a global, national and regional level. The transition from an economy that is currently almost exclusively based on fossil raw materials to a “bio-based” economy poses considerable challenges to society in Saxony and Germany just as industrialisation did a long time ago. While using biomass energetically is very advanced in Germany, innovations on the material use of biomass leave a lot to be desired.
Even though Germany is – after Russia – the country with the most wooded area, it is foreseeable, that if the increasing usage of wood continues at this pace in the future, the demand for wood for traditional material and energetic usage and a bio-based economy can no longer be met. The same is true for Saxony. This development is intensified by the increasing removal of forest areas from cultivation, e.g. by creating national parks or deadwood islands.
The forests in Germany, as in all other European countries, are rendering – to varying degrees – different ecological services (e.g. biodiversity, carbon storage, nature protection), social services (employment) and economic services in the form of products made from wood or other services in general. Lignocellulose (especially wood and straw) is the biggest reservoir of renewable raw materials in sustainable forestry and agriculture in Germany as well as in Saxony. It is limited in its quantity, however, its availability is unlimited over time. This differentiates wood from all the other so-called “mineral” raw materials.
The table shows important key figures for the forestry and wood cluster in Germany and Saxony. The turnover of this cluster in Germany is about 168 billion euros and 2.7 billion euros in Saxony. The share of the forestry and wood cluster in the total turnover is between 3.0 per cent and 3.5 per cent in Germany and various federal states.
The figure juxtaposes logging and wood consumption for Saxony in the period between 2010 and 2040. The shortfall between the two figures is clearly visible. Only innovations in wood research, the wood industry as well as in forestry and agricultural sciences can reduce today’s wood consumption of more than 2.5 million to about 1 to 1.5 million cubic metres per year. LignoSax wants to contribute to that.
The LignoSax competence centre focusses on these challenges. It was established in 2011 and is a voluntary alliance of university, industry and research institutions as well as cross-discipline research institutes from Saxony in which the Papiertechnische Stiftung München (PTS) is also involved.
LignoSax represents the entire wood value-added chain: starting with the production of forest biomass, continuing with lumber industry, timber construction, woodworking industry, cellulose and paper industry, recycling of used wood all the way to using wood energetically.
The price development of fossil fuels and political controll measures for the use of renewable energy carriers, including the energetic usage of wood, have provided a tremendous boost to the use of wood over the past few years. Imbalances on the wood market ultimately resulted from this development. They influence both the usage of forests and the supply according to range of products and quantity among the companies that traditionally process wood.
Basic chemical materials and new fibre materials and biomaterials can be extracted from lignocellulose. This development is strongly based on expertise. For this reason, intense research and business promotion must be supported in order to assist these products achieving an economic breakthrough in Saxony.
The amount of lignocellulose that has to be available for industrial purposes in Germany and in Saxony will remain the same in the future or only rise insignificantly (see figure on Saxony). The value creation from this lignocellulose is to be increased by innovations and within the framework of utilisation cascades and the resulting new products are to be manufactured mainly in companies in Germany or Saxony.
Dr. habil. Denie Gerold
The author studied Forestry Science at the Technical University of Dresden. In 1986, he completed his habilitation with the topic: “Zielwälder und Prognosen für Nachhalteeinheiten” (Target forests and prognoses for sustainability units). From 1989 until 1991, he first worked as research assistant and then as lecturer for forestry institutions at the TUD, Section Forestry Tharandt. Between 1991 and 1994, Dr Gerold worked as divisional director for forestry planning at the Sächsische Landesanstalt für Forsten. In 1995, Dr Gerold became head of the Saxony branch of the Ostdeutsche Gesellschaft für Forstplanung in Kesselsdorf.
Prof. Dr. Drs. h.c. Albrecht Bemmann
The author studied Forestry at the Technical University Dresden (TUD). After his habilitation and work as university lecturer, he was Professor for Forestry Science at the TUD between 1988 and 1994, with the teaching and research areas: wood research, wood usage, wood market. From 1994 until 2014, he was professor for Forestry and Wood Industry in Eastern Europe at the TUD. Additionally, Professor Bemmann has been a member of the political advisory committee of the Bundesverband für Bioenergie since 2010. He has been a senior professor at the Technical University of Dresden since 2014.