Finland’s forests are sparking controversy over EU grassroots production methods

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Donald Trump was so impressed with Finland’s forest management that the former US President also said that the Nordic state had put an end to forest fires simply because they had improved and cleaned up.

These comments may meet the general interest in a country with more forests than other European countries. But now Finland’s forests, how they are managed, and how timber is used, are at the center of the war The EU’s green path and its commitment to more than half the carbon by 2030.

The war has divided politics and the minds of the people in the Nordic world, and has encouraged everyone from companies to environmentalists all over Europe. At the core, the inconsistency lies in how forests should be used in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Should it be considered carbon dioxide which is also important for diversity, e.g. environmentalists say? Or, as large corporations and the Finnish government point out, should forests be considered a source of fuel and its use in everything from medicine to energy?

There is no doubt about the importance of forests in Finland, where 73% of the land is forested and more than 10 percent of the population own forests.

“It’s the deepest in our generation. Almost every family owns a forest owner,” said Stefan Sundman, chief executive officer of UPM, Finland’s largest forestry company.

Sundman noted how woodworking led to the development of Finland in the 19th century and that even after the collapse of the paper and interior industries in recent years, the forest share was still one-fifth of the country’s $ 70bn exports.

Pine commercial forest in Kisko © Bloomberg

Companies like UPM are trying to make their own, cutting back on paper production of wood as a biomaterial that can be converted into oil, building materials, textiles and much more. UPM is investing 550 million euros in Germany’s power plant to convert wood to electricity and is looking at the potential for a € 1bn biofuel that could generate fossil fuels.

But when a new approach to forestry in the EU was unveiled in June and did not say much about wood products and more about how forests should be used as carbon dioxide, Finnish’s major efforts to attract people to the movement resumed.

“The process of deforestation in the EU was so complex that member states had to vehemently reject the common message,” Jari Leppa, Finland’s minister of agriculture and forestry, told the Financial Times.

Mr Leppa added that the report had threatened the industrial revolution in Finland by failing to acknowledge the potential of wood-based natural resources and “short-term products”.

“The EU policy should promote the transformation of archeology and renewable resources. We need to keep in mind the big problem with oil. Forests do not produce any air, ”he added, stressing that forests provide enough carbon dioxide to cover half of Finland’s air.

The crisis has also created problems in a coalition government between five Finnish parties that has pledged climate change with little or no action.

The dispute prompted Leppa’s Center party – which is strong in rural areas – against rivals, the urban Greens. Maria Ohisalo, Green’s interior minister, described the Center’s pressure in Brussels as “unbearable”.

Timber rafting on Lake Saimaa in Finland

Timber rafting on Lake Saimaa © De Agostini via Getty Pictures

However, the setback worked. In the EU the final route of the forest, published in mid-July, was the best in Finland, and offered the opportunity to use timber that could be used instead of the old ones.

In addition, the most expensive alternative tactic used in the Nordics – where all trees in the region are cut down, leaving the ruins reminiscent of World War I – should be “carefully approached” but not banned, as the inscription says it should be.

Sini Erajaa, an agricultural and forestry worker at Greenpeace in the EU, was not happy with the outcome, saying that Finland and neighboring Sweden had succeeded in overcoming the EU’s defense strategy. companies and economic interests.

“Are we sure that the interests of one sector of the industry are in favor of Finland? For countries like Finland that need to have a government that is developing the climate, and I wish they would continue to be tough and ban everything,” he added.

Erajaa argued that firewood could not replace all fossil fuels, and that forests should be cleared so that they would not become “firewood farms”.

Leppa and the forestry industry disagree. He argues that forests can be deep carbon dioxide and, through its management, a source of wood-based resources that are said to be the source of oil, gas, and coal.

“You can’t look at forests just like forests. You can change the old dead things in the forest. “How to combine these chains is missing,” said Sundman of UPM.

Whether wood oil and green oil remain controversial. In any case, Leppa said Brussels’ idea should follow the larger picture of the forest, not participate in forest management issues or what can be done with timber or not.

“It can’t be that the weather is just a reflection, even if it’s important,” he added.

Chuma Chuma

Where climate change meets business, markets and politics. See the FT publication here.

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