First dialogue with Murmansk, Russia & Nordics to support the wood construction industry
The first dialogue around wood and construction across the Nordic countries and Murmansk region was organised in December 2020 by Nordregio and Nordic partners together with Svetlana Ivanova, director of “Development” (LLC Razvitie) and Alla Shishalova, from “Association of Business Initiatives”. The aim was to gather interested actors in the Murmansk region and make an assessment of their interests and possibilities for cooperation. Svetlana Ivanova and Alla Shishalova helped to identify interested companies and actors in the region.
Participating companies included:
- Priroda DOZ: a wood-processing plant, in operation since 1990, involved in harvesting, transportation, processing of timber in Murmansk region. Renovation of the historical buildings in Moscow. Work on machinery from Sweden and Italy.
- Ogni Kairal: a middle-size company, operating on the market for more than 20 years, includes all cycles: harvesting, classifying, processing. Work in close cooperation with the Finnish companies.
- Voyta LLC: is engaged in timber harvesting and processing, timber and sawn timber.
- NORD ELEMENT: work with wooden architecture, use Norwegian technologies in assembling prefabricated buildings and putting them into modules.
- SP Genikov builds prefabricated houses in Leningrad region (St. Petersburg) since 2000. Mostly builds “dachas” - summer-houses.
- SP Shevchenko operates on the territory of Tersky municipality of Murmansk region since 2000. Harvesting and sawing only on the territory of Murmansk region.
- Stroy House builds prefabricated houses with all the construction phases. involved in international projects with Sweden, Norway and on the territory of Russia. Cooperate with Murmansk State Technological Institute.
- Additionally, an assistant to the representative of the Government of Murmansk region in the Federation Council, Sergey Goncharov, was present at the meeting. He underlined that the Government of Murmansk region prioritises wood in the construction sphere, for example by preserving the national wooden heritage (ancient churches and houses). He noted that under the current regulation the construction of wooden buildings is not prioritised. The government of the Murmansk region is aware of the situation and wants to change it.
International Community - Build in Wood digital platform
Mr Peder Fynholm, from the Danish Technological Institute, announced the creation of a digital platform designed to build an international community around wood construction. Russian participants were invited to join the platform when launched in spring 2021.
Mr Fynholm represents the EU funded project ‘Build in Wood’ (https://www.build-in-wood.eu/). This is a €10-million project with 21 participants in 11 countries, Europe and Canada. The project aims to “drastically increasing the proportion of timber construction”. They intend to do that by making it more natural to use wooden materials in construction through 1) innovations in the value chain, 2) reduction of carbon emissions, 3) improving rural-urban connectivity and increasing productivity. These efforts offer environmental, economic and social benefits.
Key Interests identified:
- The regulation does not prioritize wooden buildings. The government of Murmansk wants to facilitate wood construction.
- Multi-story building are not in demand currently
- Existing need for promoting wood in the construction sector
- Participants were interested in learning about new technologies
- Participants want to explore international business opportunities
- Participants expressed the need for concrete discussion and results within collaboration and meetings
Russian participants commented that Russia has a long tradition of wooden houses and pays great attention to supporting the preservation of the old buildings, attracting tourism and developing touristic routes. Some of these buildings are more than 200 years old and are still in a relatively good condition suitable for living. This shows that wood in construction is a sustainable building solution, especially in the harsh Arctic conditions.
Murmansk is a relatively young region characterized by the high level of urbanization and rapid population decrease as it is in the whole Arctic region. One of the decisions of the government was to develop and support the wood construction sphere, considering it one of the priority areas.
Despite the competition, there was an understanding that we can also cooperate, because, as it has been mentioned by Mr Alexander Dvoryankin, director of Priroda DOZ, “cooperation is the best form of competition”. Many companies have experience working together with Sweden, Norway, and Finland and would like to continue with the cooperation, maybe not only with the timber or chips, but with the other products as well: “parquets, window frames, and anything which can be done with wood”.
Mr Anton Emelyanov from NORD ELEMENT pointed out that “exchange of technology and experiences sounds very good but we would like to be more practical”. They point out that in the next steps “some concrete things should be discussed”. For example, in 2019 there was an exhibition in Finland where the participants could meet each other, talk about technology and show the houses, and “this exact concrete experience was very useful”.
Mr Nikolaj Sveistrup from Urban Agenda noted that “we all hope that in the future we will be able to so. The concrete practical steps that can be taken already now are, for example, creating the website with contacts and some information about the companies which can be useful for finding partners or common interests. And as it goes, the project would have more and more concrete activities.”
In the discussion, Mr Dmytri Genikov pointed out that “it would be good to narrow down the priorities”. Multi-story buildings would not be so needed for now - this is not a popular area at the moment, we mostly work with single houses at the moment. But we see the need for promoting the wood in the construction sector.
Mr Nikolay Kulikov from Stroy House noted that “the reality in Murmansk is that most people live in multi-story buildings, so people would like to live in different kind of houses – in their private houses”. There is not much interest in the multi-story building (this is regardless if they are wooden or not). But the Russian participants are certainly interested to exchange experience with the Nordic colleagues, in the areas where they can apply this experience and knowledge to the small, single-family houses as well.
- Participants expressed the necessity to be “more practical” within the cooperation. The exchange of technology and experiences is very good, but we would like to be more practical.
- Murmansk has a high level of urbanization and rapid population decrease (over the past five years, 4.3 thousand people leaving the Murmansk region every year, mostly young people and young families).
- Traditional low interest and low trust in wooden constructions by the population. There is a vivid demand for private houses, although wood as a building material is not prioritised And they want to live in their own private houses regardless if they are wooden or not, people are simply not interested in the material.
- Murmansk have a long tradition of building wooden houses
- The Government of the Murmansk region supports wood in the construction sphere, considering it one of the priority areas.
- Participants expressed vivid interest in consultations, partnership, experience and knowledge exchange, considering “cooperation the best form of competition”
- The companies in the region have a high level of involvement and therefore experience in international projects
- Concrete practical steps that can be taken already now (example: to create the website with contacts and some information about the companies which can be useful for finding partners or common interests).
- Most people live in multi-story buildings, so people would like to live in different kind of houses – in their private houses
Upcoming meetings will enable dialogue between key actors in Murmansk and in the Nordic countries, with concrete lines of cooperation, including business relations, technology exchange, standards, and building a community.
Mr Fynholm and Nordregio encourage participants to join the online platform that will be launched by the ‘Build in Wood’ project, where they will be able to exchange knowledge, learn from other members and possibly to build collaborations and identify business partners.