PEFC Italy helps forests to recover after unprecedented storm
29 July 2019 News
Last October, storm "Vaia" hit northern Italy with 150 km per hour winds, damaging forests in Trentino, Friuli, Veneto and Lombardy – the regions that provide two thirds of all Italian timber.
The winds knocked down 20 million trees – over 8.5 million cubic metres of wood – equal to the amount of wood harvested in five to seven years of average silviculture. Regional governments estimated damages of more than a billion euros.
No single event of extreme weather had ever caused such extensive destruction to Italian forests. But also the reaction it triggered appeared, in its own way, unprecedented.
Joining forces for the damaged regions
In the aftermath of the disaster, PEFC Italy launched a ‘fair supply chain’ to mitigate the environmental and socio-economic impact.
They urged public forestry consortia, mountain communities and private firms to collect and purchase timber from the damaged forests at fair prices.
As the majority of the forests are PEFC-certified, most of the timber could be classified as PEFC-certified or from Controlled Sources.
The timber was made traceable through the specific logo "Filiera Solidale" (Fair Supply Chain), ensured by PEFC Italy. Until May, 17 private firms, 12 civil society organizations, and 20 public entities joined the project.
"Several months after Vaia, we still have almost 5 million cubic meters of wood to collect," said Antonio Brunori, Secretary General of PEFC Italy.
"We have to move fast, because knocked-down timber will start to get attacked by insects in the summer months, and diseases may spread to healthy trees," he explained.
In addition, timber lying on the ground becomes useless for the industry within two years.
Besides a number of Italian companies, Chinese companies also requested timber, an event that operators and experts described as exceptional.
"It had never happened before to have Chinese buyers on the Italian market," Antonio said.
While the first action prices were at 12-14 euros per cubic metre – compared to an average 50-60 euros in normal times – clients soon bid for more than double.
"The Chinese buyers' interest helped support market prices, thus avoiding excessive downward speculation," Antonio explained.
"Besides, it has also shown domestic operators that the timber from storm-affected areas is still valuable and, if they will not move timely, it will take other paths, including the road to China."
All information about Filiera Solidale Pefc are periodically updated and published in the website filierasolidalepefc.it.
Photo credits: Antonio Brunori (top), PEFC Italy (logo), Magnifica Comunita di Fiemme (3), Legno Servizi (4)