Briefly: More funding on Metso programme

The Government of Finland has decided to increase the finances of the voluntary action programme for forest protection, the Metso programme, by EUR five million annually. The additional financing is a small relief after large cuts during previous years.

In 2015, the finances of the programme were EUR 44 million. According to the original plan, the amount for this year should have been only EUR 11 million, but the Parliament decided to increaser the finance by EUR two million last December. And now the Government decided of an additional increase of EUR five million annually.

Many stakeholders have demanded to strenghten the finances of the Metso programme, including Finnish environmantal, landowowners’ and forest industry’s organisations.

6.4.2017: Sweden’s gift for centenarian Finland – common forest research

Sweden has decided to grant the centenarian Finland a joint research project called Tandem Forest Values. “It is a starting point for deeper co-operation between the countries,” says Mr. Chris Heister, vice-chairperson of the Finnish-Swedish cultural fund.

According to Heister, the gift describes well the theme of Finland’s celebrations, which is “together”.  The project is a joint effort also in Sweden.

The Swedish participants are the Government, Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, Kempestiftelserna foundations, Swedish forest industry research foundation, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry KSLA – which also leads the secretariat established for the project. The state of Sweden pays half of the expenses.

Joint forest research project consists of 12 post-doctoral grants, with a total value of EUR 2.7 million. Half of the grants are for Swedes, half for Finns.

Another gift from Sweden is a work of art that is going to be placed in the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre in the capital region. King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf will present the gifts to the President of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, on the 1st of June in Hanasaari centre.

In addition to this, KSLA plans to organize a seminarium for the 26th of October, 2017 together with the Finnish-Swedish cultural fund. Both King of Sweden and the President of Finland will attend the seminarium, with the ministers of forestry from both countries and a group of representatives of forest livelihoods and forest research from both countries.

23.3.2017: Finnish innovations hit top spot on the International Day of Forests

Finnish know how and modern innovations were presented at the high level launch of the International Day of Forests celebrations. Finland was featured as a pioneer in modern innovative industrial scale forest use.

Finland was portrayed at the global launch event of the day by Metsä Group. Finnish Metsä Group investment to a new bioproduct mill is the biggest forest industry investment ever in Finland, some 1,2 billion euros into producing integrated bioproducts and energy.

Ms Riikka Joukio, senior vice president at Metsä Group, shared an innovators’ view over forest based energy at the IDF launch event.

”Northern wood is a valuable but limited resource. It offers versatile opportunities for bioproducts to replace fossil-based materials. Natural growth of the bioeconomy is the best way to increase wood-based renewable energy”, she said.

The United Nations international Day of Forests 2017 was themed ”Forests and Energy”. Forests and wood energy solutions are seen as significant to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Wood is a renewable source of energy that can be part of a sustainable future. But for this to become reality, some current trends must be turned around. We need, for instance, to adopt improved technologies for energy conversion”, Mr José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director general, underlined.

Finnish state of the art future climate friendly energy solutions were disseminated further by UPM’s BioVerno biodiesel, showcased strongly in communicating the International Day of Forests worldwide.

FAO Deputy Director General, Ms Maria Helena Semedo, envisaged the important role of forests in the future energy development: ”More energy from wood should not require more wood for energy but better wood energy.”

Overall, wood energy accounts for roughly 40 per cent of current global renewable energy supply – as much as solar, hydroelectric and wind power combined. The UN predicts that by 2030 the global population will need at least 35% more food, 40% more water and 50% more energy.

See also the video: ”Forests, nature’s powerhouse”.

16.03.2017: Carbon sink in Finnish forests is larger than previously estimated

The carbon sink in Finnish forests is 7–8 million tonnes larger than was previously estimated. The new estimated figure is based on the most recent growth assessments carried out in connection with the National Forest Inventory. The information can be found in a news release on greenhouse gas emissions published by Statistics Finland.

In a news release from as late as December 2015, the carbon sink of sectors outside the emission trade – that is, land use, land use change and forests (LULUCF) – was estimated to have corresponded to 20.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in  2013 and 20.8 million tonnes in 2014.

However, in the most recent release the corresponding figures are 26.3 and 28.3 million tonnes, and the figure given for 2015 is 26 million tonnes. These figures also include emissions from agricultural lands.

It is estimated in Finland’s Energy and Climate Strategy that the expected annual increase of loggings in Finland, about 15 million cubic metres, would decrease the forest carbon sink by 50 percent to 12.5 million tonnes, calculated as carbon dioxide, for each year in the period 2021–30. The new statistical information means that the sink will be significantly larger.

”My estimate is that it will be something between 20 and 30 million tonnes,” says Mr. Antti Asikainen, professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland.

”This means that the forest carbon sink would be twice as large as was estimated previously. In the future we will strive to produce a more accurate forecast of the sink size during the coming decade,” says Asikainen.

Estimate on greenhouse gas emissions in Finland by Statistics Finland published in December 2015

The most recent and up-to-date estimate on greenhouse gas emissions in Finland by Statistics Finland

22.02.2017: Two wood-based solutions in Helsinki Challenge semi-final

Finnish universities are looking for solutions to global problems. Among the 20 semi-finalist teams of the science-based idea competition Helsinki Challenge, two entries are based on the use of wood: as textile fibre and animal feed.

Team Ioncell has developed a cellulose fibre that has been used by the Finnish fashion brand Marimekko for a dress. The goal of the team is to develop an alternative to cotton and to bring textile industry back to Europe.

Team Pro Fibers has developed a method called AaltoCell for producing a wood-based biomass that can be mixed with animal feed. The mass is natural and rich in fibres, and it can be produced in pulp mills. Thanks to the product, forests can be used in feed production instead of being cleared for arable land.

The science-based idea competition Helsinki Challenge looks for solutions to the world’s major challenges. The themes are related to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The competition is organized by the University of Helsinki, together with nine other Finnish universities. The aim is to increase the impact of research by fostering collaboration between the scientific community and other actors in society.

The 20 semi-finalist teams present their ideas today and tomorrow at the University of Helsinki. They will then have time until summer to develop the practical aspects of their ideas. The finalists will be selected in June and will then continue to test their solutions. The winner will be announced in November.

08.02.2017: Considerable increase in forest industry investments – decrease predicted for this year

Forest industry investments in Finland increased by a fifth in 2016 compared to 2015, to slightly over EUR thousand million. The reason behind the increase were the investments of large forest industry companies, the top of which has, however, been bypassed this year.

For example the largest industry investment in Finland ever, the Äänekoski bioproducts mill of Metsä Fibre, will be taken in use during the last quarter of this year. As to this year, a decrease is predicted in forest industry investments.

All in all, investments of Finnish industries are predicted to increase this year by roughly four percent. According to predictions there will be an increase in investments by small and medium size companies.

Of industry branches, investments by forest industry were clearly largest in Finland in 2016. Second was chemical industry with investments of roughly EUR 700 million.

Over half of forest industry investments this year aim at increasing the capacity. Only one tenth of investments are aiming at rationalising.
Of industry branches, forest industry and IT and electronic industries direct most of their investments in new capacity. In the chemical industry, new capasity is planned to be built with 40 percent of the investments.

Overall, demand was the largest factor behind investments in Finnish industries. Evaluations of the factors behind investments gave practically same results as in 2016, although the significance of demand increased slightly in the case of forest industry.

The source of the above information is the investments inquiry of the Confederation of Finnish industries, the EK.

18.01.2017: Bog, lake and river habitats face the largest threat in Europe

According to the first, pan-European comprehensive assessment, over a third of land habitats are under threat, informs the University of Eastern Finland. Bog habitats face the largest threat: of the assessed bog habitats almost all were classified as threatened in the European Union. Nearly half of the lake, river and coastal habitats were classified as threatened.

The forest habitats fare better, but of them, however, a quarter was classified as threatened. Slightly more than a quarter of the marine habitats were classified as threatened, but a great concern is that we still know too little of half of the marine habitats.

There are many reasons behind the decline of the habitats, such as land use changes due to abandonment of traditional grazing lands, drainage and urbanisation. Other reasons are pollution as well as invasion of alien plants and animals. Also effects of the climate change can be seen in the European nature.

The European Red List of Habitats provides an entirely new tool to asses the status of the habitats, but it does not substitute the national assessments. It covers a much wider range of habitats than the Habitats Directive, all in all 490 habitats in 35 countries.

Over 300 experts have contributed to produce the assessment, which was coordinated by the Dutch Wageningen Environmental Research, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and British NatureBureau.

Additional information: The European Red List of Habitats

11.01.2017: Nature gift for the centenarian Finland

The campaign ”My nature gift for the centenarian” for Finnish landowners was launched today in Helsinki. The campaign offers the landowners a possibility to establish a nature conservation area. As a part of the campaign, the state promises to establish a corresponding conservation area on its lands.

Participation is voluntary for the landowner. There is no compensation to be paid for the conservation. The campaign is targeted at private landowners, such as individuals, families or organisations.

This non-recurring campaign is to be carried out during Finland’s 100th year of independency, 2017. The target is to establish 100 hectares of new protected areas in each province, amounting at least to 1,800 hectares. The protected areas will remain in the landowners’ ownership and they may consist of forests and mires.

The campaign is carried out by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of the Environment.

15.12.2016: Not only loggings disturb flying squirrel

Existence of flying squirrel can not be predicted on the basis of changes in landscape or timber stock or loggings only, was a finding in a research carried out by the Natural Resources Institute Finland. Obviously there are some other reasons than forestry activities, such as predators or history of existence of the species.

However, planned increase in loggings decreases the number of habitats suitable for flying squirre, but not similarly in different forest types. The differences are due to forest structure and density of the species.

Flying squirrel is classified as near threatened species in Finland. However, it is protected according to habitat directive of the European Union. The species is not rare in Finland, but its existence is decreasing, which is thought to be due to loggings.

Flying squirrel favours spruce-dominated forests with stout broadleaves, but it can be found in many environments, even in densely inhabited areas.

14.12.2016: The Metso programme gained additional finances

Finnish Parliament plans to increase the finances of Metso forest protection action programme by EUR two million next year. Previously the finances of the programme were decreased by 70 percent.

Organizations of Finnish forest industries and forest owners have made several appeals to strenghten the finances of Metso programme together with environmental organizations. According to the forest sector, the planned increase in finances is necessary but not enough to reach the targets of the programme.

The Parliament will make the final decision of the state budget for 2017 in near future.

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