For the success and competitiveness of the forest industries in Finland, it is very important to ensure the competitiveness and availability of domestic wood raw material. In recent years growth in industrial production has largely been based on rising wood imports. However, steps must be taken to increase the utilization of domestic wood raw material. Ensuring the development of our forest resources and coordinating the different uses of forests are vital for success in the future.
Growth in Finland’s forest resources is the result of long-term, growth-oriented forest policies. The annual increment has reached a record 97 million cubic metres, and as young forests grow, harvesting possibilities will also increase in the coming decades. Positive development depends on good forest management, however.
Cross-generational investments in private forestry have been supported with the help of government funds. According to the latest regional calculations, funds under the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry should be increased to 86 million euros a year. Instead, funds have been cut in next year’s state budget to 58 million euros or two-thirds of what is needed. This will significantly weaken the condition of forests and the sustainability of wood production in the future.
Our present forest resources allow annual harvests of 66 million cubic metres, but in recent years harvests have only amounted to about 85% of this. Market-entry for wood can be influenced by improving forest owners’ advice and the use of forest resource information, and by developing legislation, forms of forest ownership, entrepreneurship and service markets, among others.
It is also crucial to succeed in coordinating the different uses of forests. Besides commercial use, protecting biodiversity and recreational use are important for many forest owners. The pilot stage of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO) has produced promising experience of new protection measures arranged on a voluntary basis. These enjoy broad support, are effective and can be implemented rapidly. Sufficient resources must be set aside to evaluate the programme and prepare a follow-up.
Possibilities to raise production in the forest industries focus increasingly on customer-oriented products with a high degree of processing and entirely new products. Accordingly the forest cluster is intensifying research and development activities. The branch will set out its research objectives in a research strategy that will be published in 5th October 2006. In addition to industry’s own financing, sufficient financing is also needed from society to establish a strategic concentration of top expertise in the forest-based cluster.
Jouni Väkevä, Senior Advisor, Forestry, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6620, +358 40 530 7164, email@example.com