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Urban Forest Innovation Lab (UFIL) is the programme for ventures in forest bio economy in Cuenca.

UFIL combines project-based learning, tutoring, and incubation and acceleration of innovative ideas related to forest bio economy.

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CREATE

I want to participate in the programme to receive tutoring and training in order to develop a corporate project.

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CHALLENGE

I am a company with goals related to forest bio economy, and I want to explore innovative solutions.

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CONNECT

I want to collaborate with other businesses and agents related to forestry, and participate in the city's ecosystem, particularly regarding its forests.

Urban Forest Innovation Lab

The project will involve individuals who would like to learn how to develop their own personal projects (CREATE), companies that wish to challenge their business regarding forest bio economy (CHALLENGE), and people, businesses, institutions and other agents who would like to become part of Cuenca's forests' bio economic ecosystem (CONNECT).

WHAT IS FOREST BIO ECONOMICS?


The wealth of biodiversity allows for the development of services in keeping with nature. The plan is about adapting to the natural resources of the forest, taking advantage of its diversity in a way that is both responsible and sustainable. These services include green tourism, generating enterprising and employment opportunities across the city, increasing knowledge of the surrounding areas, education, and sporting and cultural activities.

Construction and public work. Wood is recovered for construction because of its excellent qualities and durability, usability and strength combined with its sustainability due to its capacity for carbon sequestration. It is a material with multiple uses within the sector (planks, panels, roofing and flooring, doors, window frames, etc.) and, in comparison to its own weight, it is an extremely strong alternative for public work as it allows for quick and agile changes.

Forests are one of the biggest CO2 consumers on the planet; however, many activities contributing to the capture of carbon dioxide are not recognised in the emissions market. The opportunity is there to include forest operations as a mechanism to increase CO2 sequestration, and therefore establish updated emissions allowances. Taking this into consideration paves way to new developments in economic activities, which can contribute to better forest management.

The use of forest debris in the generation of thermal energy through biomass completes the forest utilisation phase. Biomass uses the waste products of forest management that either have no other use, or have reached their maximum technical capacity. The utilisation of every last product of forest management increases the value of the whole range of results, and contributes to a lower consumption of fossil fuels.

Technology contributes to a more effective and more efficient management of forests, and also an increased use of them and their products. Among its varied uses, technology is used in the handling of data for inventory completion and operation planning, the blockchain for a more precise monitoring of the chain of custody: the use of drones for fire prevention or the use of specific machinery for the optimisation of the product usage.

The chemical by-products of wood allow for the development of new materials to substitute less sustainable products. From lignin, bioplastics can be created that will replace plastics made from fossil fuels. New textiles can be created from the pulp, consuming fewer resources in the process. Nanocellulose allows for the development of light, highly-durable materials such as armour, cars, or small healthcare products as well as improving other products, such as plastic and paper.

The supply of water is an ecosystemic service provided by forests. The development of new technologies for the collection of water, the enhancement of the water cycle and the efficiency in its management and provision represent a growing demand. This is most visible in Mediterranean countries fighting climate change, generating the maximum usage of the available water and increasing its environmental value.

The use of resin allows for the manufacture of products with a much higher value. Rosin or turpentine, obtained from the distillation process, are essential for the production of scents, paints, vitamins, cosmetics, nutritional produce, and adhesives, etc. Innovation in this sector is found as much in the methods used in the extraction process of the resin, such as using the most efficient tools, as in the resin's processing and marketing.

The biological diversity of the forests allows for the retrieval of more sustainable products than just wood, such as wicker, aromatic plants, honey, and wild fruits for the manufacturing of artisanal products. The combination of tradition and innovation responds to an ever-increasing demand for products which are based both on quality and respect for the environment. The sustainable use of these products allows for the conservation and recuperation of endangered species.

Mycology is a booming sector which combines gastronomy and leisure. There are opportunities for innovation in the retrieval of the fungi, the development of the derivative products, and the conservation of the species through a responsible consumption. The collection of fungi and fruit farming both require tools which allow medium-term conservation to develop quality culinary produce. Furthermore, the planning of this activity creates another option for leisure or a leisure alternative.

Products made from the forests contribute to the sustainable concept of replacing products that either cause pollution or require a higher use of resources. The innovative designing of everyday objects, made from ecological materials of quality which respect the environment, provides a unique opportunity to start up green companies. These companies could lead the way when it comes to design and creativity, the protection and valuation of its natural resources, and innovation in sustainable trade.

The hunting sector has great potential for the creation of sustainable trade. These activities include the breeding of commonly hunted species, game management, and the investigation and conservation of species. Likewise, this presents possibilities for the development of touristic, environmental and recreational activities in order to reveal forest fauna from new perspectives.