Fuente: Gobierno de España. Ministerio de agricultura, alimentación y medio ambiente.
POSSIBILITIES AND PERSPECTIVES OF THE PRODUCTION OF NATURAL RESINS IN SPAIN AND EUROPE
In Spain interest resination for various and important reasons:
- First of all, in the situation of economic crisis and with more than 25% unemployment, for its possibilities to create employment.
- The need to supply the national and European chemical industry.
- The conservation of pine forests.
- Territorial balance and socio-economic development of disadvantaged rural areas and threatened depopulation.
Fortunately, the demand for natural resins in Europe seems guaranteed in the coming decades. Spain has imported 50,000 tons of resin equivalent in 2007, worth 50 million euros, and Europe is the world’s leading importer of resinous products, with some 300,000 tons / year. However, it produces less than 1% of world production and its coverage rate of demand for domestic production does not reach 10%. As already mentioned, despite the development of the petroleum-based chemical industry and even with the low oil prices of the 1960s, the demand for natural resins in the world has not stopped growing. And the new European industrial strategy is committed to supplying renewable natural products. Will a significant part of this demand be able to be supplied from Europe itself? The key factors that will determine the long-term viability of the production of natural resins in Spain and Europe are productivity and price, which will decide whether it is competitive or outside the market. In the productivity of the earth, the resin of Southern Europe can not compete with that of tropical and subtropical countries, due to the longer duration of the campaign, which can become practically annual and continuous, the highest percentage of productive area and above all to the highest natural productivity. China and Indonesia achieve a productivity per productive hectare of 1,400 kg / ha / year, four times higher than the Spanish one, and Brazil reaches 4,800 kg / ha / year, twelve times higher. However, this parameter is not decisive, since the owners of forest lands in Europe can not make their decisions exclusively for profitability criteria. Other environmental and social conditions have a great weight. The key is productivity per worker, which in China is only 3,000 kg / worker / year, five times less than the Spanish productivity of 15,000 kg / worker / year, and in Brazil it reaches 25,000 kg / worker / year.
The key lies in innovation, whether through mechanization, the application of new stimulants or logistics in the collection. In the longer term, genetic improvement and modification of the silvicultural structure of the masses, with an increase in density and other factors, can contribute. The price of resin in the international market is ultimately the determining parameter of the viability of the activity, as it does not seem that the free market conditions that have been reached throughout the twentieth century will be broken. Spain had to dismantle its import tariffs in the early 1980s, as a result of negotiations for entry into the European Union, which precipitated the sectoral crisis, and, given that China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Trade, it is not foreseeable that restrictions could be imposed on free trade. The following graph shows the evolution of the price of rosin in the international market between 1930 and 2010.
The highlight of the graph is the remarkable price variability and the existence of several peaks or episodes of crisis. The most outstanding one is the one from the beginning of the 70s, linked without doubt to the oil crisis, which ended with the transfer of the leadership of the production to China and with a period of 25 years of prices lower than $ 1,000 / Tm , determined by the production conditions in China. That level of prices, which prevented production in Europe, was not known since 1940.
The future price is unpredictable, but in view of the progress of the world economy and the past, there would be four possible scenarios:
- More than $ 2,000 / MT, would grant a very high viability to production in Europe, including in France, with an average monthly salary of around € 1,500 / month. It is considered a scarcely probable scenario.
- Between 1,500 and 2,000 $ / Tm, would give a high viability to the production in Europe. It is considered a scenario with medium probability.
- Between 1,000 and 1,500 $ / Mt, would grant an acceptable viability to the production in the South of Europe. It is considered the scenario with the highest probability.
- Below $ 1,000 / MT, there would be no viability of production in Europe. It is considered a low probability scenario.
The recovery of the resigning activity has once again made clear and clearly some of the positive aspects of the resins activity; in particular, the important source of employment that it represents and its ability to fix the population in rural areas, as well as being an effective measure of forest protection against forest fires. A favorable conjuncture and the work carried out by the sector itself have made it possible for society in general and political leaders in particular to have come to know the possibilities and benefits of resining in Spain. If we add to this the good perspectives in terms of demand and even prices and the existence of paths to be explored to advance the competitiveness of the European economy, we believe that it is reasonable to ask the political power and the administrations for a clear commitment to the sector and adequate means to consolidate the incipient recovery since 2011. The main thing that is required is to define a new sector model, adapted to the economic, labor and administrative conditions of this new century; a model that is agreed by the representatives of the sector agents and consolidated by the regulations and that is characterized by flexibility and robustness and is equitable and beneficial for all the links of the production chain. In another case, the unfavorable conjunctures that will undoubtedly arise could once again undermine such beneficial activity for the country.
Some of the measures necessary to make it possible are clearly identified and urgent:
- It is necessary to encourage and adequately record economic activity, by the Ministries of Finance and Public Administration and Employment and Social Security. The General Administration of the State must recognize that the resingers are agents of primary production, framed in the agrarian sector, and as holders of agrarian farms, subject to the special regime of agriculture. The key is that from the Public Treasury it is recognized that the regime applicable to self-employed resins in the Value Added Tax is that provided for agricultural activity in Articles 43 to 49 of the VAT Regulation, approved by RD 1624/1992 , of December 29. In Social Security, the applicable regime for self-employed workers would be that of the Special System of Autonomous Agrarian Workers (SETA). In addition, to enable the complementarity of activities, it is essential that Social Security accept the «multiactivity» of resineros workers already quoting for another activity, framed in another regime, and the «multitasking» of resiners already listed as autonomous agricultural workers.
- The professionalization as forestry workers of a part of the collective of resiners, which would contribute significantly to the establishment of population in the resinera districts threatened by depopulation, requires that the work in the extraction of the resin with the tasks of treatments can be complemented silvicultural, from November to March, and firefighting, during the months of greatest risk. This requires that forest administrations design new types of contracts that integrate the tasks and incorporate into the Rural Development Programs 2014-2020, which must be approved by the European Commission, measures to support the resination, allowing public funding for the realization of the silvicultural treatments directed to the improvement of the conditions of production of the pines for the resination. The territorial contracts foreseen in the Law 45/2007 of Sustainable Development of the Rural Environment offer interesting possibilities, that must be explored with urgency. These contracts should address the planning of forest management in those forests that did not have management tools.
- It is necessary to structure the sector and work for a new form of organization of the activity, which flexibly links the owner of the pine forest, the resin producer, the industrialist and the forestry administration. The Table of the Resin of Castilla y Leon has been a remarkable advance, but it would be convenient to constitute an Interprofessional Organization of the Resin, according to the Law 38/1994, of December 30, regulator of the agrifood interprofessional organizations. The first step could be the establishment of an official type contract for the sector. If you do not work by consensus and by agreement between all parties, the sector will be very fragile and, once the first difficulties arise, the activity could be abandoned again. As the weakest link in the chain is the resinier, the chain of production would break down again, as it did in the 1980s. The recent creation of the National Association of Resiners, based in Segovia, presented at the Coca Symposium in April 2013, is a big step in the right direction.
Much progress has been made in creating an environment for dialogue and in the development of sectoral representation; lack of formally set up the appropriate forums and reach the first agreements, which in the opinion of the authors should focus on the type of contracts, the joint analysis of prices and the determination of systems for fixing and review, and in the implementation of new research and development projects on mechanization and logistics and collaboration with the chemical industry. It is essential to innovate in the type of contracts in the sector, as indicated in the two previous points. The lessons learned must be taken into account, but recourse must be had to new formulas that consider the territorial linkage of the activity, the integration of tasks, the multi-annuality (reasonably for periods of 5 years, which are the ones that work in the same face). ) and the price revision. The contracts can be between two agents (owner and resinero, resinero and industry, forest administration and resinero) or link a greater number of agents, even up to the four mentioned; However, simplicity is as important as flexibility. It is possible to sign framework agreements, similar to the pioneering tripartite Coca agreement of 1998. Finally, it is necessary to work in partnership with representatives of the sector in Portugal, which with their singularities have conditions almost identical to those of Spain, and in the framework of a European Natural Resins Strategy. It is fundamental to recognize that in a globalized world like the present one, what is at stake is the sustainability of the European way of life and the future of the chemical industry, of the rural societies of the southern regions of Europe and of our forests depends on addressing the problems with an overall vision. The restructuring production crisis in China has opened a window of opportunity in recent years for the recovery of resilient activity in Southern Europe, which other producers will also try to take advantage of, especially in developing countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia, but also in Mexico, Honduras, Vietnam and India. In addition, it is foreseeable that the producers in China will react, that the forest administration of that country will incorporate criteria of maintenance and recovery of the forests and that the techniques of resination will be improved, recovering levels of production close to 700,000 tons / year. We therefore believe that the agents of the sector have a certain term, perhaps up to 2020, to establish a new model of organization and operation of the sector and above all to increase the productivity in the resin and improve the quality of the product. The European project «EUROGEM«, in which French, Portuguese and Danish partners participated, at the end of the ’90s, to develop new technologies of resination, and in particular the resination with mechanical drill, demonstrated the possibility of collecting miera free of impurities, without water and if loss of turpentine due to volatilization, when using closed containers. It was demonstrated that it was possible to obtain a miera of quality quite superior to the usual one. Spanish and European producers of natural resins have the challenge of increasing productivity up to 20 Tm / worker / year and obtaining miera of higher quality than usual. If in these years they achieve it, it is foreseeable that the activity can be consolidated for decades. If they do not succeed, it is easy to lose competitiveness again in countries with lower labor costs. The innovation that this requires is unattainable without a strong business vision, which is one of the weaknesses of the sector in Spain. Forest owners and resiners generally lack such a vision, which is rooted in industrial enterprises. The hope lies therefore in the driving spirit of industrial companies, which are currently very few. In addition to Natural Resins and LURESA-Grupo RB there are some other companies in the provinces of Segovia such as Navas de Oro Resins.
Portuguese industrial companies took advantage of the Rural Development Program 2000-2007 to expand and modernize their industrial capacity. It would be convenient for the 2014-2020 period to take advantage of European public funding to modernize and expand the industrial capacity of our country and, above all, to incorporate in the existing plants second transformation processes and greater added value. If the Spanish sector hopes to expand production to 30,000 tonnes / year, it would be necessary to expand industrial capacity or rely on installed capacity in Portugal, which would lead to greater market integration, as has already occurred in wood and in manufacturing. of pasta and boards, for which the market is peninsular. The producers of natural resins should be the main stakeholders in the success of the new strategy of the European chemical industry on the use of renewable raw materials alternatives to oil, such as resin. For this, it is necessary to obtain information that proves that natural resin, rosin and turpentine have a lower environmental footprint and lower energy requirements than hydrocarbon resins, with which they compete. The use of these products in various applications as additives or for others for food use, as in the case of citrus coatings, or in the manufacture of food packaging, is prohibited because it was not provided to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). ) the studies that support its innocuousness. On the other hand, alternative synthetic products are authorized, since the powerful plastic industry has spared no resources to obtain the necessary scientific guarantees. The producers of natural resins must initiate this way, looking for the necessary supports in the universities and technological centers and the public financing available.
The entire sector, but especially the transforming industry, must clearly and decisively commit to the European resin, with a market strategy that recognizes the greatest value of our resins: the enhancement of their sustainability attributes, the search for differential characteristics due to the very species that we resin (Pinus pinaster) and even the differences in composition between pines, which could be exploited in certain market niches thanks to a selective collection, are among those possibilities. The improvement in the logistics of the collection and transfer to the factory is unapproachable without the joint work of resiners and industrial companies and surely without joint decisions of the sector. Changes from pot to plastic bag or other closed containers, for example, or in the type of barrels, do not make sense if they are not adopted jointly by a majority of the producers. For this reason, although the industry expects that in the near future it will focus primarily on modernizing its facilities and incorporating second transformation processes, it is essential that it collaborate in the innovation of the processes in the forest. At the resineros level, the first requirement is that of training, since hundreds of new workers with little or no previous experience have been incorporated and are expected to join. The training they require does not refer exclusively to the extraction technique. It is also essential that they receive basic training in forestry and firefighting work, in the prevention of occupational risks and in self-employment and in relation to companies and administrations. Unfortunately, the framework for the formation of basic forest levels in Spain is very poor. The system has been defined in this last decade, from Organic Law 5/2002, of June 19, on Qualifications and Vocational Training, but so far it does not respond to existing needs. The qualifications are not well defined and in general there are no centers that offer the necessary training, with the conditions of connection to the mountain that would require this type of centers. It is reasonable that in a first phase most of the new resineros workers join the sector as self-employed. However, for the integration of silvicultural and firefighting treatment tasks and to incorporate innovations such as mechanization or changes in the logistics of the collection, it is essential that the residents be integrated into cooperatives. Existing cooperatives can play an important role of reference for new cooperatives and desirably expand to increase their capabilities, in the search for new markets or in process innovation. Another interesting option is that companies of forestry jobs and services contract the pine resin exploitation, integrating the production of resin among its activities, as already do several Portuguese companies. From the forest administration there are two other important measures that must be addressed: It would be convenient to recover a national program of research in resins, directed or coordinated from the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) and with support from the Higher Center for Scientific Research (CSIC) in regarding applications and chemical processes. The program should address genetic improvement for resin production; the anatomical and physiological study of the production of resin and defense mechanisms against damage and infection, which could be very useful in the face of climate change; the use of new stimulants with a lower environmental footprint and less impact on the quality of the miera; the mechanization of production and the improvement of logistics; the forestry most suited to the production of resin; and new applications of resinous products and derivatives. This initiative would fit perfectly between the European priorities of innovation and research and could have financing of the Horizon 2020 of the European Union. Finally, it is necessary to establish a new forestry regulation of the use, based on a Register of Resin Producing Land, which serves as the basis for the traceability control systems, a Register of Resin Producers, integrated in the Register of Companies and Forest Industries foreseen in the article 61 of the Law 43/2003 of Forests and with the registries of agrarian exploitations and a final communication of the aprovechamiento in all type of forests, in place of the previous authorization. This regime should be identical throughout the national territory and desirably similar to Portuguese. Several of these measures have been identified as urgent and prioritized by agents of the sector in Castilla y León, for which reason they have been included in the «Program for Mobilization of Forest Resources (2014-2021)» that is being processed by the Junta de Castilla y León. In these years, the sector has been able to show its possibilities to the public. A clearer bet of the transforming industry and above all a firm and committed political decision is lacking for society to enjoy for decades the social, environmental and economic benefits of the resins activity. The best way to express this political decision would be to elaborate at the state level a «Resin Strategic Plan«, framed, for example, in the «Forest Economic Revitalization Plan» prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and provide it with the means necessary for its execution.
Seventeen ecosystem services associated with this socio-ecosystem have been identified and their degree of dependence on the use of resin has been established. Proving the existence of the services associated with resination will allow us to justify the investment of funds belonging to different plans and programs in the miera sector. The expected consequence of these results would be the recognition of these benefits by the managing bodies in their action plans and the consequent support to the sector, thus facilitating their reactivation and conservation as profitable use.