Gema Boiza. Journalist. @GemaBoiza
The economic crisis in Spain and Portugal, the good preservation of their pine forests, higher demand and lower production in the European Union, and socioeconomic changes in China (due to the loss of workers in the fields and higher salary costs) are all key factors paving the way for resin (whose sector professionals are engaged in resin extraction, forestry and fire prevention) to once again drive economic growth in rural parts of the Iberian Peninsula.
This area is also home to some of the most competitive global resin product companies, which are well-connected with the whole of Europe's chemical industry, which happens to be the world's leading consumer of those products.
With 2 million hectares of cluster pine forest, from which the resin is extracted, Spain and Portugal have a chance to help the European Union (and themselves) reduce dependence on oil, especially the chemical industry. That sector has established among its priorities for 2020 a commitment to ecological economics and to the development of stable sources of raw materials, preferably within the European Union, to comply with the Kyoto Protocol.
Industry players face the major challenge of ensuring that the recovery in resin extraction that began in Europe in 2011 increases this year and in the years to come.
Forest revival plan
This objective recently received the support of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Miguel Arias Cañete, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (MAGRAMA), recently presented a plan for preserving and improving Spain's forest heritage, which includes resin.
According to Ministry documents, the plan aims to leverage the forest industry's capacity to drive socioeconomic development and help diversify rural activities.
Resin, chestnuts and pine nuts, the best in class
These challenges are addressed in the 85 measures set out by the Ministry which, in addition to identifying a small revival in resin and biomass and a positive trade balance for chestnuts and pine nuts, also observed notable instability in truffle and mushroom production and prices and a slight depreciation in cork.
During the presentation of the plan, Arias Cañete highlighted that the Ministry studied how and where to improve the use of timber, biomass, resin, cork, chestnuts, pine nuts, mushrooms, truffle, game and fishing, the dehesa and extensive cattle breeding.
According to MAGRAMA, Spain (where forestlands span 27.7 million hectares, accounting for 54.8% of the country's total surface area) ranks third in the European Union in terms of forested area, behind Sweden and Finland.
China, Brazil and Indonesia are, in that order, the world's leading resin producers. Compared with Spain, China and Indonesia's output per hectare is four times higher, and Brazil's production is two times higher.