Conference held on how to increase use of timber in construction

(Hina) - It is necessary to overhaul the wood-processing sector, utilise its potential, boost the use of timber products in construction, invest in capacities to manufacture products with added value and innovative technology, it was said at a conference in Opatija on Tuesday.

The "Wood in Construction" conference was organised by the association of the wood and paper industry within the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

Each year, the conference heard, about 800,000 cubic metres of logs are processed and that is a huge potential for products with added value.

Wood manufacturers advocate improving the system for labelling domestic products and the introduction of incentive measures for greater use of wood in construction. They believe that it is necessary to improve the criteria for green public procurement and to introduce a quota of 30% of building material used in the construction of public buildings to be wood.

They support ecologically labelling products, recycling wood products and  the establishment of an interdisciplinary institute for wood.

Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Darko Horvat said that wood is favourable in construction and wood structures have high resistance to earthquakes.

Furthermore, wood can achieve excellent energy efficiency and satisfy European standards. He underscored that wood certainly has its place in construction and new investment cycles, particularly in the post-quake reconstruction.

"All the resources we have obtained in the segment of reconstruction and in the National Recovery and Resilience Programme (NPOO) and for which we will receive funds from the Multiannual Financial Framework will have wood participating in equipping and construction with a share of at least 30 per cent, perhaps not right away but that is the target and we need to aspire to that," the minister said.

Asked how entrepreneurs can be assisted to increase the degree of finished products, Horvat said that some entrepreneurs he spoke with were not entitled to grants from European structural and investment funds while the NPOO will provide them with that opportunity. The minister is convinced that large enterprises will use grants to renew their machinery.

He believes that European money will provide an opportunity for Croatian entrepreneurs to stand side by side with European producers.

HUP director-general Damir Zorić said that the wood manufacturing industry has shown visible results and exports are growing particularly of products with added value and he considers that Croatia will quickly reach European standards, at least as far as the portion of wood used in construction is concerned.