Taken together, the Forest Quiz, the Schools Forest Week, the Forest Academy for Decision-Makers and the forest.fi online magazine have provided a hundred years of reliable information to benefit public debate on forests, in collaboration with the forest sector and its partners.
In all, the Finnish Forest Association has helped shape the future of the forest sector through communication, interaction and collaboration during three centuries, starting in 1877.
’Our work focuses around some twenty annual projects. Our projects reflect the changes in the operating environment and deal with topical issues, and some of them continue to be a crucial part of forest-related communication from one decade to the next,’ says Executive Director Kirsi Joensuu.
’In the course of this Super Year, we want to make an even greater number of Finns aware of forest issues. This is also an opportunity to express our thanks to those who make our work possible. Among those who fund the communication we target to young people and people in influential positions, as well as all our projects during this year, the Finnish Forest Foundation is particularly important. We implement our communication and events in collaboration with the entire forest sector – our membership includes almost fifty forest organisations.’
Over 1.1 million Finns have participated in Forest Quiz
One of the best-known of the Association’s projects is the Forest Quiz for lower secondary school pupils. Now in its 40th year, the Quiz has been taken by more than 1.1 million schoolchildren. Each year over 20,000 pupils from over 300 schools, led by about 500 teachers, participate in the Quiz in either Finnish, Swedish or English.
The topics chosen for the Forest Quiz are based on the national school curricula in biology, geography and civic studies. The quiz questions are formulated in collaboration with the Association of Biology and Geography Teachers of Finland. Partners from the forest sector collaborate with the arrangements of quiz finals in May. The two-day finals also constitute a study trip for the 50 best among those who have won the quiz at their own school.
In honour of the special year, reminiscences by the participants, teachers and organizers are being collected and will be published on the Quiz’s web page.
Schoolchildren in the capital region learn about forestry
Another event for schoolchildren and teachers that is celebrated in 2021 takes place in the autumn. For 20 years now, schoolchildren in the capital region have had the opportunity to spend one schoolday in the forest. One thousand sixth-graders are taken to the forest during the Schools Forest Week every autumn, in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa in rotation.
’Teachers value a long-term collaboration with schools and they are happy to participate repeatedly,’ says Joensuu.
Every year brings a new crop of pupils for whom the week’s activities are new. The topics discussed – sustainable use of natural resources, utilization of forests, biodiversity and climate change and how to combat it – are derived from the curricula. Completing an activity trail, the pupils get to see how and why forests are managed, what products are made of wood and what you can do in a forest.
During the day the pupils meet forest experts, watch a forestry machine at work, plant tree seedlings and, of course, have a meal break by the campfire.
Funding for the Schools Forest Week is mainly granted by the Finnish Forest Foundation. Other sponsors and organisers include some twenty other forest and environmental organisations.
Forest Academy for Decision-Makers has helped build dialogue for 25 years
The Finnish Forest Association’s best-known and most significant platform for communicating with influential persons is the Forest Academy for Decision-Makers, which reaches its 25th year in 2021. Directed to decision-makers and other people of influence in society, this information and discussion forum aims at increasing their interest in forest issues, improving their information on forests, and creating interaction between people who have influence within the forest sector and those in other spheres of society.
’Our aim is to construct an open dialogue and exchange of opinions around forests, their sustainable use and wood products. To achieve this, we invite decision-makers from different spheres of society to attend the Forest Academy,’ Joensuu explains.
About a quarter of the Forest Academy participants are from the forest sector. In addition to seminars and discussions, the Academy event includes visits to forests and forest industry facilities.
The Forest Academy is normally organised twice a year. During the Super Year 2021, only one forum is organized due to the the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the 50th Finnish Forest Academy and takes place in September.
15 years of online news from forest and forest sector
forest.fi, the forest sector’s joint online magazine, has been published for 15 years. The topical articles in the magazine cover a wide range of themes related to sustainable forest use. The stories provide the perspective of the forest sector on issues under public debate, including climate change and biodiversity, bioeconomy and innovation. Some of the most popular stories cover more esoteric matters, such as how to cultivate chanterelles. One of the absolute favourites with international readers is a story of forest fires in Finland, or rather, of why they are so few.
forest.fi content is published in both English and Finnish. The main target groups are outside Finland: the aim is to reach the European decision makers and influential people who are most important for the forest sector. For Finnish audiences the publication is a source of forest information, among other things. In addition to current topics it publishes facts, graphs and a glossary which explains forest-related terms in both Finnish and English.
’Our web publication forest.fi is a good example of collaboration in communication around forests. Its editorial council includes people from the Finnish Forest Foundation, Metsähallitus, the Finnish Forest Centre, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), Metsä Group, Stora Enso, UPM, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation and the Finnish Sawmills Association,’ says Kirsi Joensuu.
’During the Super Year 2021, our projects also highlight the synergy between individual projects that is facilitated by the Association: forest belongs to everybody – and it can be reached through all channels. To celebrate the Super Year, we have commissioned essays by renowned writers on the significance of forests. These will be published from February onwards on our web pages and as podcasts.’