A detailed study of the Belarus forestry sector, commissioned by the EBRD and funded by Austria, examines how the country could attract new investments in its wood processing industry as well as increase harvesting of the forests which cover over 40 percent of its territory.
The aim of the study was to identify the main issues facing existing and potential investors in this key sector for the Belarus economy, including wood supply and procurement, forest management practices and wood transportation, as well the industrial use of wood and the export of round logs and other forestry products.
Forests constitute one of Belarus’s richest natural resources and cover 9.4 million hectares. This resource is growing at an annual rate of 28.6 million cubic metres of wood, only half of which is currently being harvested. All forests in Belarus are the property of the state.
The EBRD has financed a number of projects in the Belarus forestry sector over the last five years, including investments in such companies as Pinskdrev, VMG and Mebelain, as well as two projects with Kronospan.
The Bank is committed to the development of forest management systems that are efficient, safe and environmentally and socially sustainable. The ability to rely on a sustainable long-term wood supply plays a key role in sector investment decisions.
There are a number of challenges associated with forest management, including sustainable harvesting, regeneration, watershed management, biodiversity and land-use change, among others. To address these issues the EBRD requires its Clients to adhere to strict environmental and social standards and practices.
In such projects, certification under international wood procurement standards such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is one of key prerequisites for both sponsors and financiers.
The Austrian government provided the funding needed to contract Finland’s Poyry group, a leading international forestry consultancy which analysed the development of forestry and forest industries in Belarus.
This covered sector policy, forest management and harvesting, certification, industrial transformation of wood-using and wood-processing industries, as well as investment opportunities and market framework.
Initial findings of the study were presented in Minsk last Spring to a wide group of stakeholders. A major focus of the study, which was only recently completed, was on how the investment opportunities it had identified could turn into real projects.
For further information on the study, interested parties should contact the EBRD’s Alexandra Antsugai on AntsugaA@ebrd.com