Forest policy aims to guide the decisions of forest owners so that it promotes the use of forest resources to a direction that is desirable from the perspective of society.
The European Union does not have a common forest policy. Although, forest policy is within the powers of the EU member states, the EU and international treaties and agreements influence the content of the national forest policies especially through climate, environment and energy policies.
The above policies and their goals may be somewhat contradictory. On one hand, the policies promote forest conservation and carbon sinks, but on the other hand they aim at delivering more wood for the needs of industry and energy production. Finnish forest policy aims to reconcile these contradictory objectives.
Luke supports the preparation of the forest policy in many ways
Primary production in forestry does not receive much direct state aid in Finland. From the 1970s to the present, the real value of direct state subsidies to private silviculture and forest improvement measures amounts to less than EUR 60 million. The forestry incentive system is currently being reformed, and Luke provides research support for this work.
A variety of policies to climate change mitigation are being prepared globally, at the EU level and at the national level. Forests have a key role by carbon sequestration providing negative emissions, and also as a permanent carbon storage. For the first time, the energy and climate policy currently being prepared by the EU plans emphasises the role of forests in the EU emission reductions by including forests in the climate change mitigation using estimated reference levels.
Luke is responsible for the greenhouse gas inventory of the agricultural, land use and forestry sector. Luke’s duties also include determination of the benchmark for Finland. Furthermore, Luke produces a variety of scenario analyses on the impact of the use of forests on carbon storage and carbon sinks.
Luke has developed a model, FinFEP, for the assessment of a variety of scenarios and the impact of policies in the forest and energy policy sectors. The model has been used in several future anticipation and policy reviews, and the development continues.
In addition, Luke analyses the forest industry product market and the roundwood market, and publishes the Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook twice a year. The review supports the decision-making of different forest sector actors. Luke is also responsible for the annual country-specific report on the current state and short-term development of the Finnish forest sector that is delivered to the UN/UNECE annually.
Forestry influences the biodiversity of forest nature. The aim of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO) is to halt the decline of forest habitats and forest species, as well as creating a favourable trend in the development of forest biodiversity. Luke monitors the METSO programme and provides reports on its progress, impact and development needs, as well as produces research data to support the programme.
Forest policy research primarily serves political decision-makers, but it is also useful for forestry professionals, industry and other stakeholders. Citizens and non-governmental organisations are also interested in the rationale, impact and costs of the policy decisions.