References Climate, Forestry

Pirkanmaa is a pioneering region when it comes to carbon neutrality goals. The region has worked systematically for a healthier climate since 2016, and most municipalities in the region are committed to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2030. Reliable information about the ability of forests to sequester carbon is a key piece in the climate puzzle.

Climate neutrality is a highly ambitious goal and calls for actions based on research data.

“To support decision-making processes in the region, we will produce a comprehensive data package to help to reach the emissions goals. In addition to the carbon footprint, another key piece in the puzzle is information about carbon sinks at a regional and municipal level,” says Soili Ingelin, senior specialist from the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) for Pirkanmaa.

To build that piece, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) constructed two scenarios of forest harvesting opportunities. The calculations produced using Luke’s MELA software provided guidelines for the impact that the removal of roundwood for commercial purposes has on carbon sinks in the region’s municipalities. Different forest processing options were simulated, on the basis of which Luke defined the sustainability of forestry from the points of view of forest resources and harvesting operations.

“The first harvesting option was based on the idea to optimise harvesting from the point of view of a specific rate of return. The second calculation used the carbon sequestering goals of municipalities in Pirkanmaa as an additional restriction,” says Hannu Hirvelä, research scientist at Luke.

The climate is a key issue in everything we do, and knowledge-based management plays an essential role in it.

Tools for planning climate-neutral land use

Municipal information about the sizes of carbon sinks and the impact of any decreases in carbon sinks offer even better tools for planning climate-neutral land use. The calculations defined how forests need to develop as carbon sinks in order to reach the climate goals by 2030.

However, information alone is not enough, and partners are needed for the practical stage.

“Our task, above all, is to produce information. The Finnish Forest Centre plays an important part in taking practical action,” Soili Ingelin says.

Everything for a healthier climate

The partnership between Luke and the ELY Centre for Pirkanmaa is expected to continue: the study of the use of forest land will be supplemented next year by soil carbon calculations. The results will improve understanding of any changes in carbon sinks in the soil in Pirkanmaa and of other greenhouse gas emissions, such as nitrous oxides and methane.

“We are ready to do all we can for a healthier climate. The climate is a key issue in everything we do, and knowledge-based management plays an essential role in it. This is where Luke’s expertise has been valuable,” Ingelin says.

“Our partnership has been productive. We are in a good point to move forward.”