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What is Proforbiomed?

ECO123: What is Proforbiomed?
Architect Inês Duarte (CICAE): Proforbiomed was a project financed by the MED programme lasting from 2010 to 2014, so it was concluded at the end of last year and the aim of this project was to promote the use of residual forest biomass in the Mediterranean area; it covered the whole of the Mediterranean basin, which has a very similar forestry context, and where everyone faces a serious problem of forest fires, even more now owing to global warming, which has been getting worse. This project aimed to promote the use of this biomass so as to minimise the risk of fires on the one hand, and on the other to give forest owners some benefit, who basically have no use for such forest management, for this biomass, so they often do no forest management because they have no incentive. It is an expense that protects them from forest fires on the one hand, but it is an expense that they will avoid if they can and they derive no economic benefit for this reason.
What is biomass?
Biomass is part of all living and non-living material in the ecosystem, all the material which was organic, living things that were alive and now may not be, like a tree for example. The biomass in this project is forest biomass, so part of the forest, the branches, tree trunks, leaves, prunings, the trees that will no longer be used, this is the part of the biomass that this project deals with.
What is the position of the local authorities regarding this project, at present?
They are all very interested in this going ahead, that is they all showed an interest in signing a cooperation agreement in which they expressed an interest, in which, as part of their activities, biomass would be used at a local level, and the use by different bodies would be encouraged at the municipal level because everyone understands that it is something that can produce some development.

Economist Jorge Graça (Business Reaction, Lda.) Interestingly, as we saw in the case of the municipality of São Brás de Alportel, the councils have an advantage in the investment they make in converting the boilers, which is recovered because this energy is much cheaper than heating oil, and with the conversion of the boilers, the investment pays for itself in a short time and this is a major incentive. The users have a major incentive. It is on the part of the producers that there is no such incentive.”
Did this programme open the eyes of some forest owners?
Architect Inês Duarte: In general, it seemed to me that people on the ground were very aware of this problem, but it is a problem that cannot be solved by individual foresters or owners; a whole system has to be implemented, a whole chain where, when a forest owner does his management, he knows that there is biomass to be delivered to someone who will give him some remuneration for that amount of biomass, and that will go into a cycle.
What action is to be taken in the future, after this project?
Well, the quantities of biomass were identified and the possibilities for using it, and now there needs to be an organisation in order to collaborate in the implementation of a network of contacts, of buying and selling, of using this biomass; and so only with an association that will be created now, in that way it will be possible to get results from this project and enable forest owners to derive some benefit.

Dr. João Marques (CICAE)
Landscape architect Inês Duarte (CICAE)
Economist Jorge Graça (Business Reaction, Lda)

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