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Ibrahim-Bylan-visit By-MPNThe Swedish government minster for energy, Ibrahim Baylan (centre), on a recent visit Umeå University and Bio4Energy. He is flanked by Hans Lindberg, Municipality of Umeå (left), and Mikael Berglund of energy utility Umeå Energi. UmU scientist Linda Pommer, in the foreground, is showing them the Fornax BTX Torrefaction Pilot, built and operated by Bio4Energy researchers. Photo by Mattias Pettersson, Umeå University.This week the Swedish government minister for energy, the Social Democrat Ibrahim Baylan, told biorefinery researchers in northern Sweden that he was "concerned" about the general attitude of the European Union towards biofuels, and that he would try to make his colleagues in the EU see that forestry in northern Sweden was "not about deforestation". Baylan, who is an Umeå University alumnus, was on a visit to the biorefinery research environment Bio4Energy and the Centre for Environmental Resource Economics, both coordinated from Umeå University.

"I am concerned about the EU's attitude towards biofuels. It is marked by what has happened in many countries [in the form of] deforestation. This is not what happens here… Sixty per cent of the land area in Sweden made up of forests. We have to build that understanding [on the EU level]”, said the former Umeå University student turned minister in the recently appointed Social Democrat-led government shepherded by Stefan Löfven.

Baylan, however, did not only come to express his concern, but also to learn more about the research and development carried out by the researchers in northern Sweden he had come to visit.  

Hearing about the way in which Bio4Energy had paved the way for extensive collaboration between academic researchers at the three main universities in the region, as well as with research institutes and industrial companies, he said that this mirrored the "Umeå spirit of collaboration" and that the cluster would be a suitable example to showcase to EU colleagues when wanting to demonstrate that forestry in Sweden was carried out in accordance with principles of sustainability which, according to the EU's definition, should mean that equal weight is being given to environmental, economic and social considerations in a given undertaking.

"We can show them sustainable forestry" done the Swedish way, Baylan said.

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