Finland’s wealth has been historically built on our green gold. Our forest management system is very unique, and we have high technological competence in converting our green gold into value-added products. Our forests can offer all ecosystem services simultaneously: recreational benefits, berries and mushrooms, biodiversity and economic benefit for the whole value-chain from private forests owners to industrial companies.
Currently, there is a very vivid discussion related to the use or non-use of forests going on. The key trigger for this discussion is the proposal for EU LULUCF regulation. Public discussion is needed to develop the forest sector, but the opinions should be based on solid scientific data not supported by ideological attitudes.
What happens if the European regulation will significantly restrict the use of forest as bioeconomy feedstock?
Finland’s economy is heavily relying on forests and forest bioeconomy. Our forest value-chain accounts for 21.5% of all export of goods which equals to 11.7 billion euros (2015). Our forest value chain includes a bunch of players, forests owners, small and medium entrepreneurs and industrial companies producing different wood derived end-products. And all these players benefit from the value-creation of forest biomass. We also have a unique everyman’s right to enjoy the forests.
What happens if the European regulation will significantly restrict the use of forest as bioeconomy feedstock? Are we turned into an environmental reservation or a carbon museum of Europe? Nice thought, but does this bring us enough economic welfare? If not, are we willing to decrease our living standard, our educational system or health care? I assume that we all want everything and free of cost. However, no free lunches exist.
Finland could be a forerunner in this optimization, using the most advanced technologies and concepts to produce wood biomass…
Sustainability is the key word in future bioeconomy, but together with retaining the biodiversity we must ensure sustainable, sufficient and value-generating biomass production. And this is the economy part of bioeconomy. Research can also provide new means and tools to maintain and boost biodiversity. Sustainable bioeconomy thus requires understanding and optimization of both parametres. Finland could be a forerunner in this optimization, using the most advanced technologies and concepts to produce wood biomass, ensuring and boosting biodiversity and converting biomass into value-added and, in many cases, carbon storing end-products.
Let’s try to be the most efficient and innovative country to optimize both sustainability and economy in bioeconomy.