RESINEX Operational Group: Professionalization, knowledge transfer and innovation in the resin sector in Extremadura
In Extremadura (West of Spain) there is less tradition of resin tapping than in other regions of the country. In recent years, it has been promoted in certain areas of the region to create jobs as a means to alleviate depopulation in rural areas, in addition to improving forest management in these areas (road maintenance, trails, biomass reduction, etc.). Extremadura has enormous potential for resin tapping given the 86,851.23 ha of resin pine forests distributed heterogeneously throughout its geography. However, resin productivity in Extremadura is currently far from being economically profitable for those families who decide to enter the sector.
The RESINEX Operational Group (OG) and its innovation project are presented, the aim of the latter being to boost the resin sector in Extremadura. This OG comprises companies, associations and research centres with close links to the Forest Sector. The promotional institutions included in this OG cover environmental management from different perspectives. This diversification enables products and processes that can be improved within the forestry sector to be identified. The beneficiary associations provide a direct link with the workers in the sector, as well as forming part of the outreach activities, providing a greater territorial scope.
The RESINEX OG was formed to address the observed lack of information / instruction and knowledge transfer in the resin trade. Therefore, its main objectives are associated with: (i) Professionalization of resin tappers; (ii) Improvement of resin extraction and collection techniques; and (iii) Integration of the resin activity in silvicultural planning. In turn, the RESINEX OG Innovation Project seeks to achieve the following goals: (1) Improvement of the working conditions of the resin tappers, yields and productivity; (2) Job creation and population fixation in rural areas; (3) Promote and make visible the Resin Sector, raising awareness of the importance of the forest as a livelihood for the rural population; (3) Decrease in resin imports; and (4) Reduction in the volume of biomass accumulated in these forests.
The aim of the presentation of the RESINEX OG is to provide an example of how this type of initiative can be useful in experiments such as that in Extremadura, where the resin sector is to be developed, taking advantage of the existing resource potential. The steps that are followed in the implementation of RESINEX, favouring the technification and professionalization of workers, while enhancing forest management aimed at obtaining resin, can be taken as a reference and implemented in other areas. Operational groups are a very useful tool for this type of situation: they are initiatives of the European Innovation Agency that seek to bring together different actors in a given sector with different points of view to try to solve a problem, take advantage of an opportunity or to foster innovation in the sector.
Impacts and weaknesses
The expected impact of RESINEX is highly significant and involves attempting to structure the sector from the start of the resin activity in the area. Among the specified expected results are (i) the improvement of resin productivity from Extremaduran forests through the transfer of knowledge, innovation and work with the residents; (ii) the advance in forest planning together with the Administration to integrate the resolution in the silvicultural management, (iii) to achieve the sustainability of the resource, improve the resistance of the ecosystems dominated by the pine forest to identify climate changes; and (iv) fixation of population in rural areas by improving the sector.
Future development should involve finding sustainability in the use of resin in Extremadura. If there are a sufficient number of resin tappers aware of the best available techniques, land organized with the objective of obtaining resin, and sufficient and constant resin exploitation is achieved over the years, it could be profitable to install a resin plant in the area, with which the productive cycle would be completed in the region. Economic development would be promoted in a rural environment with few economic resources, as is the Extremadura region.