Monitoring bioeconomy: wood flows and sustainability : [paper for] XV World Forestry Congress, Coex, Soul, Republic of Korea, 2-6 May 2022

Substitution of fossil resources by renewable ones represents the core of the so-called bioeconomy and as such is a key factor of sustainable economic development. In Germany, wood is produced sustainably and the most important renewable resource for material uses. Traditional uses play an important role. At the same time, new wood-based value chains are developed and wood-based process and product innovations occur. But are wood- and other bio-based solutions really more sustainable? What effects occur along value chains due to increased wood use? In order to answer these questions and to steer bioeconomy development, production, processing and use of wood and other biomasses need careful monitoring.
Our approach for monitoring resource base and sustainability of German bioeconomy approaches these issues in two complementary ways: on a sectoral and a material flow-based level. In material flow-based analysis, all possible processing and manufacturing steps of a certain bio- based resource as e.g. wood from production (harvest or catch) to final disposal are described and quantified. Therefore, it allows for a detailed analysis of specific value chains as compared to a sectoral assessment of the bioeconomy. Thus, material flow-based analysis provides data for evaluation of efficient use of resources and substitution of fossil resources in production, processing and manufacturing as well as use and post-use phases. As of today, biomass is already used in multiple ways but data to quantify all used amounts in detail is not available. Material flow-based analysis is also the basis for the assessment and comparison of sustainability effects of bio-based material flows and their products with non-bio-based. As an example, we quantified global warming and eutrophication potential, value added, employment and average income associated with wood pallets, representing the material flow of coniferous sawn wood.



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