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Utilisation of low grade assortments and transformation of coppice forests

FIRMA is a five-year, $20 million project that began in September 2009 and is funded by USAID and Sida. The purpose of the project is to support enterprise competitiveness in selected value chains of the tourism, wood, and light manufacturing sectors of BiH, in the process advancing the country’s ability to meet the Copenhagen Economic Criteria for accession to the European Union. To support sustainability, the project works primarily through a group of key local implementing partners, known as the “FIRMA Consortium”, who cover all regions of the country.

The goals of USAID and Sida for FIRMA are ambitious and transformational, and therefore require wide impact – in product design and quality, in ways of connecting to markets, in expertise of workforce, and in investment attractiveness. FIRMA's strategy is directed toward these systemic objectives.

The FIRMA workplan is defined at the private sector value chain level. Implementing partners, called “Value Chain Facilitators” (VCFs), organise stakeholders first to identify and prioritise competitiveness obstacles through value chain analysis, and then to originate and manage discrete activities to address these obstacles. FIRMA supervises and supports these activities, providing strategic and operational guidance, expert technical assistance, and grants from its $3 million Small Grants Fund. In order to maximise scale and impact, FIRMA works closely with other donors and local government agencies that provide development assistance programs consistent with FIRMA's objectives – so-called “collaborating implementers”.

FIRMA is implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (Arlington, VA), with several consortium subcontractors and 12 regional and local economic development agencies in BiH. As a subcontractor, ORGUT carried out consulting services to FIRMA specifically within the wood value chain. The Wood Processing Sector support improvements of value-added wood products in product design, product quality and safety, application of up-to date technologies to enable efficient, flexible, and exact product fabrications, and workforce skills and capabilities.

ORGUT has carried out a study on utilization of low grade assortments and transformation of coppice forests including developing an Action Plan with measures and actions for transformation of low value to high value forests, including usage of cut assortments for industrial usage. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s annual allowed felling of state owned high forests is on average 6.8million cubic meters, which is composed of around 35% sawlogs and around 3% cellulose/pulp wood - meaning a total of 38% industrial purpose timber. There is around 25% of fuel wood, while the remaining 37% comprises less valuable assortments that are poorly utilized and forest waste that remains unused in the forest.

The allowable cut in coppice forests are planned far below their real capacities and consists of predominantly less valuable assortments and fire wood. Their realistic volume is around one million cubic meters per year. Also, the higher quality and larger diameter timber stock, at the more easily accessible lots, were mostly cut during and after the war in BiH. Illegal cutting is still a threat and endangers well preserved and maintained high forests.

Wood as a material possesses a number of good attributes which other materials do not have, making it irreplaceable in certain cases. As the population grows and living standards improve worldwide, there is a growing demand for wood. At the same time, available wood stock is decreasing, as forest land is converted to construction and agriculture land. Therefore, it is imperative that measures are undertaken to maximize savings of wood, to better utilize all available wood assortments, and apply new technologies and develop new products on the basis of less valuable wood assortments and wood waste in forestry. An optimised utilization of all wood assortments and wood bio-mass is increasingly becoming one of the most important factors for the successful operation of forest management companies (FMCs), to improve their competitiveness and sustainability. On the other side, the wood processing industry, in order to remain competitive, need low process, bigger input volumes, and lower-value wood assortments become more valuable for the wood industry.

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