The first “Charm of Wood” exhibition opened in Koper to accentuate a gathering of top-tier European Forest Based Sector researchers and research managers at the University of Primorska.
In the presence of several high-ranking researchers and managers, who were attending the InnovaWood association Executive Board meeting and Interactive Workshop, the first “Charm of Wood” exhibition was officially opened in Armeria Palace. With its theme, the use of hardwood for wood-based products, it supports the current trends in the European wood science research, and underscores the research efforts at the University of Primorska (UP)
The main aim of the Charm of Wood event is for people to get reacquainted with all of the benefits of using wood, because the wood processing industry will not survive without an increase in consumption. The Charm of Wood line of events serves to present the various ways of using wood as a material to people and to spark interest and positive attitudes toward this natural resource. We wish to reach people through media and inform them of the various benefits of wood use: using wood products helps mitigate climate change, and the manufacture and (especially) sale of these products significantly helps the national economy. In Slovenia, wood is the only available resource that can be produced, processed, treated, and finished, thus encompassing all stages: from harvest to stages of technologically advanced treatment/modification.
The gathered guests, among them the President, and the Secretary-general of InnovaWood, the President of the Charm of Wood Organising Committee, the Head of the European Hardwood Alliance, and other dignitaries, were first welcomed by the President of the UP, Prof. Dr. Dragan Marušič. He reiterated his pleasure of hosting the gathering of InnovaWood, as the representatives of the most forward-leaning research organisations in the forest-based sector. In his words, this is just a further indication that “we at the University of Primorska have made a correct decision in expanding our natural sciences faculties with the area “Science of Wood”. Indeed, the result of this decision was the greatest scientific success in the short history of our institution – the successful acquisition of the InnoRenew CoE project.” He subsequently made the connection to the Charm of wood exhibition by the increasing need for the popularisation of our work in all areas. The public (who is ultimately paying for all our activities), stressed the President “has to be able to see and understand what we do. And what would be the better way as to present some products that can be a result of top level research?” He expressed his belief that this is an important event, the beginning of a long-lasting cooperation of the University of Primorska and Charm of Wood, as another sign of University’s commitment to the development of this field.
Prof. Dr. Franc Pohleven, the President of the Charm of Wood Organising Committee, thanked the President for the kind words and told the gathering that this is already the 9th reincarnation of the event. His main wish is that at least some of his passion in the promotion of wood use in all shapes and forms, except heat production, is transferred to future generations by the now traditional annual Charm of Wood events. “We all understand that the issue of hardwoods use is a hot topic in our field today. Therefore, I was more than happy to hear that a part of this year’s Charm of Wood event was to be hosted here in such a prominent location as is the building of your Rectorate.”
As the Acting Director of the InnoRenew CoE, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Andreja Kutnar gave her insight that this year’s Charm of Wood proves that the event constantly remains at the forefront of the forest-based sector’s thought process. We in the InnoRenew CoE follow the activities connected to the event (it is NOT just an exhibition, it is a real movement for the popularisation of wood use), as we are always on a lookout to connect research and business opportunities into well defined, and possibly publically financed projects. The emphasis of this year’s event is in the popularisation of hardwoods use in arts and crafts, but with industrialisation potential, it is absolutely in line with currently emerging trends. Introduction of arts in the process is a well-tested way of assuring innovative approaches, and there are numerous successful examples of sciences and arts walking hand in hand. InnoRenew CoE will both contribute and benefit from such research, as research of hardwood use in the built living environment can only be addressed through its key distinguishing areas of REED and wood modification. Dr. Kutnar added “As we quickly pick up the pace of the Centre formation, are employing people and acquiring the research equipment, I am sure that on the next year’s event we will be able to present also some of our first tangible successes.”
The President of InnovaWood, Prof. Dr. Mark Irle also confirmed the actuality of the event’s message – the need for a sensible utilisation of the European hardwoods. With the ever-increasing climate change, a significant change in vegetation composition is already noticed, and modelled for the future. For Europe that mainly means the retreat of the softwoods, both in quantity and quality, and in geography (higher altitudes in the mountains, and further to the North) – replaced by traditional hardwoods and invasive species. This is a major challenge of the European forest-based sector, as softwoods are currently more utilised in large-scale industrial applications. Technology of hardwoods transformation/utilisation on industrial scale is different, and largely not developed/optimised yet. The issue particularly pressing in all of the South Europe (geographical, not political South). InnovaWood is at the forefront of forest-based sector research planning/ streamlining/ harmonisation/ optimisation. The importance of hardwoods-related research underscored by the formation of the “Hardwood Alliance”, whose primary goal is to develop the European hardwood subsector through research and innovation. It is foreseen that major investment will be needed to offset the lack of knowledge and expertise in hardwood processing. Dr. Irle concluded “this is the first time I am officially opening an event as the President of InnovaWood. It is a great personal honour that the University of Primorska and InnoRenew CoE enabled it to be this excellent event, the Charm of Wood in Koper.”