Regional Value Added


Endogenous Resources

To profit from value added chains in the Alps, it is very important to make use of endogenous resources (DAX 2001; MÜHLINGHAUS & WÄLTI 2001; ERMANN 2005). In the following four chapters, an overview of some typical value added chains is given (wood, chestnut, energy and landscape (i.e., protected areas).

The Wood Chain

Wood can be an important part of regional value added chains in the Alps (Source: CIPRA).
The wood chain is a very typical value added chain in the Alps, and contributes to a sustainable forest management. The aim is to process the wood of the forest area within a region to timber and wood chips and to use it for constructions and heating. But the forest in the Alps is currently underutilised although there are sizeable imports of wood and fuel to the mountain regions due to two reasons:
  • wood prices are low, so that harvesting trees is in some cases a money-losing proposition
  • consumer wood demand and the current supply from forest owners are not aligned. Cultural values, lifestyle trends and traditions make an alignment of supply and demand difficult.
  • Nevertheless, it has to be kept in mind that the situation is quickly changing now that prices for fossil fuels are at an all-time high. The demand for local wood, especially for energy production, has risen considerably recently.
For the success of a good co-operation within the wood chain it is important to be responsive to the requirements of the clients within the wood chain. Therefore, forest owners, sawmills and the forest ranger have to produce and work very flexibly and accommodate to the requirements. Continuous product development and innovation are important in order to react on the customer demands, and future changes.
Further Readings & Links

BINDER et al. (2004)
Transition towards improved regional wood flows by integrating material flux analysis and agent analysis: The case of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Switzerland.

CIPRA Climalp (2004)
A Cipra-report on energy efficient houses made from regional wood from the alps.

The Qualitätsgemeinschaft Holzbau Vorarlberg is a classic regional value added chain that links forest owners with carpenters and joiners (Source: Holzbau Vorarlberg).

Holzbau Vorarlberg

A regional value-added project and prize winner of CIPRA’s Future in the Alps competition in 2005.

Vorarlberger Holzbau-Kunst
The Qualitätsgemeinschaft Holzbau Vorarlberg is a classic regional value-added chain that links forest owners with carpenters and joiners. The project’s core group is made of Vorarlberg’s sawmill owners, subcontractors from industry and handicrafts as well as a selected group of architects, planners and forestry and timber experts. The co-operative, established six years ago, obtains its raw material from sustainable timber stands, specifically the silver fir forests of the Grosses Walsertal. The know-how of Vorarlberg’s timber specialists is utilised and enhanced as part of the project. The main idea behind the Quality Community, which consists of no fewer than 82 members, is to promote timber construction at the highest level through joint marketing, further training and lobbying. Lobbying is necessary to convince private and municipal promoters that timber construction does not have to involve Scandinavian or even tropical timber, and that indigenous timber is also of a high standard.

Timber from the Region for Innovative Architecture
The many examples of high-quality modern timber and glass building architecture and of successful rehabilitation projects in the Vorarlberg region speak for themselves. The co-operative has also raised its profile through two successful initiatives: firstly, by awarding the Vorarlberg Prize for Timber Architecture, which is held every two years and attracts many participants. And secondly, by the Holzbau Zukunft Project, which consists of an elaborate study and support programme for apprentices in the joinery and carpentry trades. On completing their apprenticeship the young carpenters and joiners then take to the road and travel to Sweden to look at the culture of timber construction there.
A key figure and creative mind behind the Quality Community is Managing Director Matthias Ammann in Feldkirch/A, who, as a leading member of the Vorarlberg Chamber of Commerce maintains crucial contacts with policy makers, industry and environmental groups. The co-operative also includes 45 carpentry workshops, 38 forest owners, sawmills and wood processing businesses. The annual budget of just under €900,000 is financed in part by EU funds, but there are also local sponsors such as the Raiffeisen Bank, the power plants of Vorarlberg, and the Chamber of Commerce.

An example of innovative multifamily residences in Austria. (Source:
Architecture Tourism is Booming
The results speak volumes: 60 public buildings have been built using timber construction, eight of them entirely with indigenous silver fir timber. Demand for local construction timber has since doubled, and an increase in felling activities of 60,000 m3 a year means additional receipts of €6.6 m for forestry and sawmill owners and new jobs created at 32 companies. Despite the crisis in the building trade and the increase in mechanisation the number of persons employed in the timber trade has risen from 700 to 900 since 1997. Another side-effect has been the boom in tourism: some 40,000 to 50,000 architecture tourists have travelled to Vorarlberg to see its modern timber designs. And window and ceramic stove manufacturers are now also interested in a co-operation.
Back To top Continue

This short paper deals with the question whether the building of wooden houses could (due to new fire protection requirements) substantially increase the sales of wood from Swiss forests.