I. BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION
Slovenia in the last decade has introduced a market economy by harmonizing legislation with the European Union and opening the market through large structural changes. The country is also trying to correct injustices of the past through a denationalisation process by returning nationalized properties, which include many forests, and bringing about changes in their ownership structure.
In a market economy where only the best are rewarded, premeditated and moderate actions are however required in forests in order to secure their sustainability. Therefore, forest owners who expect forests to generate profit are often in conflict with forestry experts who have to find rational solutions while promoting sustainable and multipurpose forest management. The share of farmers among forest owners is decreasing; consequently, forest owners have limited access to the equipment (for example tractors and trucks) that could also be used in forestry. The share of the farming population has dropped below nine percent. Forest owners are increasingly dependent on forest enterprises when it comes to forest management.
However, these enterprises are interested in logging marketable timber; therefore thinning in younger forests is not carried out to the required extent. This decreases the stability and the quality of younger forests. Moreover, biomass that could be used for heating is left in the forests and, due to the lack of thinning, wood products from these forests are also less competitive.
During the conjuncture in the use of fossil fuels in the 1990s, many forest owners abandoned the use of wood for heating purposes. As a consequence, motivation to extract wood biomass from forests decreased considerably. However, the increasing prices of fossil fuels in recent years already indicate the failure in development planning in the past. Highly fragmented forest lots and land ownership further inhibit intensive forest management as an appropriate forest management solution. As a consequence, small forest owners see no economic interest in exploiting their forests, while for forestry services; it is hard to find a way out of a vicious circle.
In the Slovenia Forest Service (SFS) we realized that the utilization of woody biomass as fuel to be used internally and/or exported could be a good option for the diversification of forestry activities. In fact, they could foster the increased productivity of forest areas providing new sources of income for people living in and around these areas and thus become an environmentally sound source of energy locally available. However, the national capabilities of the SFS were insufficiently covered in the country. For these reasons, FAO assistance was urgently needed to:
II. OBJECTIVES OF THE ASSISTANCE
The overall objective of the project was to increase the capacity of the SFS to formulate adequate wood energy policies and plans compatible with the sustainable management of forests. In particular the project assisted the SFS to:
a. Preparing a program for increased and sustainable woodfuel production, trade and utilization being integrated within the national forestry and energy plans. The new forestry program for increased use of woody fuels is contributing not only to a more sustainable management and development of Slovenian forests but also diversify the sources of energy used in the country. The activities were carried out in close cooperation with main governmental and non-governmental stakeholders;
b. Improving national capabilities, especially those of the SFS and associated partners, for the implementation of new forestry and energy programs proposed by the project. It were mainly dedicated to the SFS staff and the private sector for the generation of a new class of forest owners and workers properly aware of the potentialities of woodfuel as a source of energy;
c. Carry out studies, fieldwork and activities required for the formulation and implementation of a wood energy development programme.
III. PROJECT OUTPUTS
The project has the following main outputs:
· Proposals for National program for increased wood energy production and utilization as an environmentally friendly source of energy that is integrated within the forestry and energy programs;
· National capacities enhanced for planning, implementing and monitoring a national woodfuel production and utilization (energy) program through the development of infrastructures and more skilled human resources of the SFS and related partners.
· Extension program prepared, established and operated by the local offices of the SFS (centres of information, demonstration and dissemination) for the sustainable production, trade and use of woodfuel as an environmentally friendly source of energy;
· National Wood Energy Information System (WEIS) established at the SFS with a database with spatial and statistical information on wood energy and woodfuel and related aspects regarding users, consumption patterns, production, supply sources, trade and marketing;
· Methodologies for wood energy planning and policy development transferred to the country;
· Strategic studies on several crucial woodfuel aspects carried out for the identification, evaluation and implementation of wood energy initiatives with its respective investment plan. They covered several items such as:
· The macro- and micro-economic analysis of wood energy aspects to identify and quantify new potential markets for woodfuel at local, national and international levels and the investments needed;
· The socio-economic aspects of wood energy systems to assess potential new job and income generation;
· The analysis of impacts in national policies and programmes on climate change and determine how the "Flexibility Mechanisms" of the Kyoto Protocol can assist to the development of cost-effective wood energy investments;
· The identification of technological needs within the country for the development of woodfuel production and use for energy purposes.
IV. CAPACITY BUILDING
The objective of the project is to increase the capacity of the SFS to formulate adequate wood energy policies and plans compatible with the sustainable management of forests. The plans will be developed and implemented in close cooperation with other concerned partners such as the National Energy Agency and stakeholders from the government and non-government sectors.
The project was upgraded the current analytical and planning capacities (through the introduction of technical assistance, new planning tools, improving data bases and training activities) and assisted in the development of inter-institutional infrastructures (for instance: strengthening of cooperation between the SFS and the National Energy Agency) for the implementation of wood energy initiatives. Particular attention was given to the development of skills of the SFS staff and the associated partners for the development of above-mentioned initiatives. In addition, a wood energy information system was established for the realisation of wood energy planning exercises and the preparation of specific technical, economic, socio-economic, environmental studies in this field of work.
Through the project, the staff of the SFS and other concerned partners acquire the necessary extension skills for promoting, supporting and backstopping community-based natural resource management.
In this context, the project was expected to train up to 55 field foresters and other experts for the incorporation of woodfuel production techniques and forest management practices.
A training and extension material (module) was prepared to raise the awareness of forest owners and other sectors of civil society of different wood energy aspects and issues. The training module was served as a model for the replication within and outside country.
The TCP Project Final Reports:
9 - 11 November 2005 Bled, Slovenia
The Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (MAFF) in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) organized from 9 to 11 November 2005 in Bled, Slovenia, the second working session on "Sustainable Wood Biomass Management in Central and Eastern European Countries.
The session is follow up of the first working meeting on "Supporting Wood Energy Planning in Eastern Europe", organised at FAO headquarters in Rome on 16 March 2005 where representatives of 13 countries and 3 international organisations attended. The meeting presented the main findings and results of the FAO project "Supply and Utilization of Bioenergy to Promote Sustainable Forest Management (TCP/SVN/2901)" in Slovenia and examined possible dissemination of knowledge, based on that project, to other Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). The meeting also discussed a project proposal aimed to enhance the capacity of Forestry Services of CEEC to plan sustainable utilization of forest biomass for energy and identified follow up actions.
The meeting agreed a list of activities to be implemented and recommended a second working meeting for the presentation and discussion of a project proposal with a wider number of partners. Slovenia offered to organise in collaboration with FAO such meeting. The Meeting main goals were:
Identify main constraints and barriers for an expanded utilization of forest resources for energy;
Explore the willingness and availability of donors to support and finance a project to assist interested countries to remove main barriers, and
Adopt an plan of work for the realization of future activities.