Forests play a vital role in Europe's economy, society and environment . Scenarios likely to keep the global warming below 2oC (Paris Agreement goal) would entail a substantial reduction of anthropogenic GHG emissions, through far-reaching changes to energy systems, land use and associated value chains. The second consumer-driven factor of GHG emissions is the construction sector (ca. 15%), implying a significant role for forest-based products. The forest-based sector can contribute to climate change mitigation through increasing sinks in and reducing emissions from living biomass, soils and wood products, and the substitution of fossil fuels through the material and energy use of wood-based materials. The combined sink and substitution effects of wood value chains can provide a key mitigation option, provided that changes in fossil and biogenic carbon are taken into account in a comprehensive and balanced manner. Several research projects and COST Actions launched in FP7 looked into the development of innovative, resource efficient wood-based products. While ensuring the sustainability of forest production systems under changing climate conditions remains a long-term objective for the sector, a key challenge now is to further develop and deploy the technological advancements of micro/macroclimate-friendly wood-based value chains on the ground.
A.  Building with wood: Proposals shall develop and test new technologies and environmental friendly solutions for the use of wood-based materials in the (re)construction and/or retrofitting of buildings. Proposals should also explore options for building with wood in combination with composite/hybrid materials, linkages with other nature-based solutions, make use of ICT, and consider LCA and carbon accounting, ‘environmental documentation’ (i.e. standards and construction codes), performance standards, public policies and regulations, consumer perception and engagement/co-creation. Activities could include limited research and shall produce plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. For this purpose they may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication. Proposals shall ensure that relevant actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers from urban/rural areas, businesses, architects, site-managers, etc.) work together during the whole research and innovation process in order to better align the process and its outcomes with the societal values, needs and expectations.
B.  Resilient forest systems
Both sub-topics (A and B) are suitable for INCO and SMEs participation, and are expected to integrate technology with SSH and RRI aspects.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 10 million for sub-topic A and 5 million for sub-topic B would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In the framework of SDG 9, 11, 13 and 15, the EU's Bioeconomy Strategy 2012, the EU's Forest Strategy 2013, the Circular Economy Package 2015 and Paris Agreement 2015, proposals are expected to assess how they will contribute to:
- Increased resource and/or energy efficiency and added value and minimising pollution and the environmental footprint (emissions of GHG and air pollutants included) in the construction sector in the cities, by specific amounts/proportions to be specified in the proposals, by 2030 [sub-topic A];
- Enhanced connectivity of rural-urban areas and their overall contribution to a resilient, circular and competitive, forest-based bioeconomy, by 2025 [sub-topic A];
- Increased long-term resilience of forest production systems and associated value chains to enhanced climate/environmental change and societal demand [sub-topic B];
- Enhanced contribution of forest-based sector to long-term climate change mitigation and rural development objectives [sub-topics A & B];
- Also in the long-term, prompt a sizeable positive change to European landscapes and economies, by keeping the countryside green and serving to make the cities greener, and increasing the share of both decent and green jobs [sub-topics A & B].
- Advance available solutions from TRL 4-5 to TRL 6-7 for sub-topic A and from TRL 3-4 to TRL 5 sub-topic B
Illustration Photo: Wooden building in China (credits: shankar s. / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))