FOBIA is a project funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Program (NPA). The project develops means for improving the business management skills of forest machine enterprises and other forestry service providers in the Finnish, Swedish, Scottish and Irish program areas. The project is coordinated by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), and the other partners include the TTS Institute, the North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium (PKKY), Tietohippu Oy, the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), the Swedish Association of Forestry Contractors (SE), the Inverness College-UHI and the Waterford Institute of Technology. In addition, 11 associated partners are involved in the project.
In the Nordic countries, bio-economy is largely based on the forest industry, but the importance of the forestry sector is also increasing elsewhere. The forest industry increases its production capacity, and new products are being developed feverishly. In the Irish NPA area, wood harvesting is projected to double in the next ten years, and the estimated increase in Scotland is around 30%. In the Finnish and Swedish NPA areas, logging directly employs approximately 10,000 people.
The role of forestry machine enterprises and other forestry service providers has been neglected in the bioeconomic boom. Their services are a vital part of the value chain, and they are also a major employer especially in remote areas. The size of forest machine enterprises has grown especially in Finland, where a typical company has several chains of machinery. In addition to harvesting, they also produce many other services that were previously the responsibility of the wood procurement organisations of the forest industry. Acquisition of work is mostly based on bidding. Therefore entrepreneurs need diverse business management skills. Training tailored to these businesses is seldom available or is difficult to attend due to lack of time and long distances. A profitable enterprise can provide work and livelihoods on its territory in a sustainable way. A successful service provider is also the customer’s advantage as it is able to deliver high quality services in a sustainable and efficient manner.
FOBIA will introduce successful business models and develop and familiarise tools to increase productivity and monitor profitability. Also well-being of entrepreneurs and employees will be taken into account. These outputs are packed into training packages that forestry machine entrepreneurs and other providers of forestry services can utilise regardless of time and place. We will report project’s news and results in the newsletters that will be released twice a year.