In Finland, the primary objectives of forest protection are ecological, but the effects of protection also extend to employment, timber markets and gross production. Decisions
made in the last decades to protect forests in northern and eastern Finland above all affect regional and local economies.
Strictly protected forests account for 8.2 per cent of forest land. In other European countries, on average two to three per cent of forests are protected, at the most. Forest protection is not spread evenly around the country, however. It is concentrated in
northern Finland and particularly state-owned forests there. In the northern area named Forest Lapland, for example, 51 per cent of forests are already protected.
The pilot stage of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland showed that voluntary protection measures are effective and also enjoy broad support among forest owners. Measures
taken to promote the natural management of commercial forests have been in the right direction to ensure biodiversity.
Finnish forest industry needs domestic wood
The availability of domestic wood directly affects the forest industries’ operating possibilities in Finland. Lapland in the north and Kainuu in the east do not have enough private forests from
which wood could make up for the loss of supply from state-owned forests. Less than 50 per cent of forests in northern Finland are privately owned. In southern Finland, on the other hand, 70-80 per cent of commercial forests are owned by private individuals, ordinary families.
Forests offer work and income
Many communities in Finland depend economically on forests. The forest sector’s share of gross domestic product is around 20 per cent in some regions. In many areas, it is considerably higher. Forest owners, local sawmills and companies that harvest and transport wood form the backbone of prosperity. In addition to providing jobs, local sawmills also help to provide a solid basis for other services.
"In Finland private forest owners play a key role in the functioning of the wood supply, since over 60% of the wood raw material used by the forest industries comes from domestic family forests.
Industry pays about 1.5 milliard euros on wood purchasing for forest owners per year. Thus forest owners receive income considerable from wood sales" says Anders Portin, Senior Vice
President of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s Sustainable Development and Resources unit.
One sawmilling job leads to two jobs in other fields
The forest sector accounts for about 6 per cent of Finland’s gross domestic product. This sector does not have such a large effect on the economy and employment in any other EU member
state. It is increasingly important for Finland’s economy that the forest sector and related raw material supply provide work and income for people in rural areas.
Around 86,000 people are employed in the forest industry in Finland. When including indirect jobs, the whole sector employs about 200 000 Finns. The Finnish Forest Research Institute
estimates that each job in the forest industry leads to 1.1-1.6 jobs outside the sector. Sawmills create more indirect jobs than other mills. Each sawmilling job leads to about 2.2 jobs in other
fields. Work is also provided in supporting services.
Anders Portin, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development and Resources, Finnish Forest Industries Federation,
tel. +358 (0)9 132 6610, +358 (0)40 586 6179
Antti Otsamo, Director, Forest Issues, Sustainable Development and Resources, Finnish Forest Industries Federation,
tel. +358 (0)9 132 6679, +358 (0)40 719 7734