Lenzing initiates sustainable reforestation project in Albania

Lenzing, a leading global supplier of wood-based specialty fibres, and Södra, a world-class producer of pulp, signed a cooperation agreement today, June 02, 2021, with the clear objective of making a decisive contribution to addressing the enormous textile waste challenges of the industry and the society.

In line with its ‘Naturally positive’ sustainability strategy, the Lenzing Group is committed to an intact environment and the protection of forests as an important part of the ecosystem.

Against this background, Lenzing has started a project in Albania that promotes the promotion of sustainable forestry and the improvement of local living conditions. As a best practise example, 20 hectares of degenerated land with forest and fruit trees are being recultivated together with the local population and various NGOs, and concepts for sustainable forestry are being developed with local schools.

Important measures for Albania’s forests

Albania’s forest areas are one of the regions among Europe with the greatest need for improvement. New approaches to forest management are necessary to deal with environmental problems and to meet the current needs of society with regard to the sustainable use of natural resources. With the reforestation project, Lenzing is supporting this process and is also driving forward the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which it is committed.

‘Lenzing has many years of experience in responsible wood procurement and extensive expertise in forestry. This project shows that Lenzing is passionate about trees and forests, but also people, in addition, business and fibre productions. The idea for this project at this location came from Lenzing wood purchasing team. Our forest experts have emphasised the important role afforestation can play in this area,’ says Robert van de Kerkhof, Marketing and Sales Director of the Lenzing Group.

The project initiated by Lenzing is co-financed by the Austrian Development Agency, which brings together Albanian and Austrian experts in order to improve forest management skills, enable knowledge exchange between vocational schools and revive degenerated land in Albania.

‘We appreciate very much that Lenzing decided to get involved in Albania to support the local communities and to tackle the problem of deforestation in Albania together, but also to exchange know-how between Austrian and Albanian schools make it possible,’ says Simone Ungersböck, head of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) office in Albania.

Over 3,000 trees planted

There is a great need for action in the Ana e Malit region in Northern Albania. 50 percent of the official forest areas are without any forest vegetation. Erosion and annual flooding are the consequences and make life difficult for the local population, who make their living primarily from agriculture. That is why 3,660 fruit, deciduous and coniferous trees were planted in the western part of the Shkodra municipality at the foot of the Tarboshi Mountains and in the immediate vicinity of the Buna and Drni rivers, and erosion control measures such as stone walls and double fences were installed.

Cooperation with local communities and NGOs

As part of the project, the local community will be actively involved in the process to ensure an extensive knowledge transfer: the students of the Shkodra Forest School will participate in the entire process to learn more about the afforestation. The employees of the Eco-Social Farm, a facility for people with disabilities, which is located directly below the afforestation area, take care of watering the seedlings. There is also an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Austrian school in Shkodra. The afforestation project serves as the basis for the students’ thesis. This will help to sustainably raise the awareness of schoolchildren and the general public about current challenges in forest management.

The project underlines the commitment of the Lenzing Group in the field of sustainability and enables best practise examples to be established for the industry and at the same time to learn for future projects and similar activities in the CSR area.

For more information, please read the full press release here.

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