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Wood Bark and Peat Based Bioactive Compounds, Speciality Chemicals, and Remediation Materials: from Innovations to Applications

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New products from forest waste

In a pioneering study, researchers identified a range of high-value chemical compounds from forest wastes like bark, peat and humus.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

By-products of the forest industry, like bark and peat, contain bioactive molecules with potential applications in medicines, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and plant protection products. This means that rather than burning these renewable, naturally occurring raw materials, high-value products that will boost rural economies and sustainable forestry could be created. To realise this potential, the EU funded a project called FORESTSPECS. The project's aim was to identify and study bioactive compounds from the bark of industrially important tree species, and from humus and peat. Researchers found a large number of potentially valuable substances, and were able to further synthesise useful derivative compounds. The compounds were all screened for potential applications in, for example, bioremediation materials, fertilisers, fungicides and pharmaceuticals. One important discovery was that several Larix bark compounds could provide some protection against downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) on grapevines. Researchers also devised a simple and efficient way to extract a medically relevant compound known as Rhaponticin from Norway spruce bark. A peat distillate was furthermore found to be useful in a nasal spray device, which one project partner plans to patent upon further development. These and other advances of the FORESTSPECS project demonstrated that untapped potential lies within forestry waste streams.

Keywords

Forest, forest waste, chemical compounds, bark, peat, humus, bioactive, raw materials, sustainable forestry, Larix, bark compounds, downy mildew, grapevines, Rhaponticin, Norway spruce, nasal spray, waste streams

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