Finns’ ecological footprint is estimated to be the third biggest in the world. The ecological footprint only measures the use of renewable natural resources and consequently Finland, which processes and exports large amounts of wood and paper products, ranks high. Renewable resources must be utilized as sustainably as possible. This is one of the strengths of the Finnish forest industry, which uses the latest technology and expertise. The Finnish forest industry’s products are a sustainable choice.
The ecological footprint is a worthy effort to measure people’s impact on their environment. The method needs to be developed to suit its task better, however. According to the principle of sustainable development, the focus of consumption should be shifted from non-renewable resources to renewable resources, but the ecological footprint does not measure this.
In the calculation method, comparing the biological footprint and biocapacity provides a better picture of the sustainable use of resources. Finland is one of the few countries whose biocapacity exceeds its consumption of natural resources. Finnish forests’ biocapacity is the highest in Europe: nearly 11 global hectares per person. Each Finn uses slightly over 2 global hectares of this, so forests’ ecological surplus is about 8.5 global hectares per person.
Finland’s forest resources grow more than we use them
Finland’s, as well as Europe’s forests are growing faster than they are harvested. Forests cover about one-third of Europe and a full three-fourths of Finland’s land area. Wood is a strategically important natural resource and raw material for Europe.
Finland’s forests are used in a sustainable way. The annual increment is about 97 million cubic metres, and only a little over half this amount is harvested. According to studies conducted by the Finnish Forest Research Institute, harvesting could sustainably be increased from the present 55 million cubic metres to 66 million cubic metres a year.
The Finnish forest industry uses renewable raw material carefully to meet the changing needs of environmentally conscious consumers. Wood materials are used almost 100% as fibre, wood products and bioenergy. The forest industry produces about 80% of Finland’s bioenergy, and in this area we are on the cutting edge in Europe. Wood-based products can be recycled and eventually converted into energy. Over 70% of the paper consumed in Finland is recovered for recycling.
Antti Otsamo, Director, Forest Issues,
Finnish Forest Industries Federation
tel. +358 9 132 6679,