Kirsi Joensuu is the Executive Director of the Finnish Forest Association. The Finnish Forest Association was founded in 1877 with the aim of informing citizens and decision-makers about how to use forests in a sustainable and diverse way, inspiring and attracting future experts to the forest sector and keeping the forest sector up to date with changes in the operating environment and future opportunities.
The Finnish Forest Association has an important role in building co-operation in the field of forestry and publishing information thereof. The Association’s best-known communication projects are the Uusi Puu – New Wood and Forest Finland and the forest.fi channel aimed at international target groups, as well as the Metsävisa application for secondary schools and Forest Academy aimed at Finnish decision-makers.
Sustainable use of forests as a solution to megatrends.
According to Joensuu, solutions to many of the world’s megatrends, such as the problems caused by climate change, urbanisation, environmental pollution and loss of biodiversity, can be found in the sustainable use of forests. Forests produce wood that can be used instead of concrete and fossil raw materials in production.
Kirsi Joensuu affirms that “Woodly is a concrete example of how wood can replace fossil raw materials. It is an absolutely wonderful Finnish invention that will certainly have a large international market. Woodly is an important product for the Finnish economy.”
Finland produces high value-added wood processing products.
According to Kirsi Joensuu, it is wrong to say that the wood processing industry is a low-level industry in Finland. “Wrong. Finland produces high value-added products. For example, pulp, in addition to paper, is used as a raw material in the textile and pharmaceutical industries”, says Joensuu. She sees the future as positive. “The situation in companies and regarding research is much better than what is suggested by the publicly presented image. Finland is very good at product development.
The only problem is the small size of the Finnish domestic market in the commercialisation phase of products. Companies must co-operate with large international companies while making sure that Finnish innovations do not end up under foreign ownership.”
The accumulation and commercialisation of forestry-based knowledge
From the point of view of the Finnish economy, it is important that we learn to take advantage of Finland’s high level of forestry-related expertise, which is of great interest internationally. “We could sell the forestry expertise and know-how that has been accumulated over the last 100 years.” Joensuu proposes.
Forestry-based knowledge has developed as a result of systematic work. Finland’s first Forest Act was enacted in 1868. At the time, Finland’s forests were so heavily used and in such poor condition as a result of tar burning and deforestation that the authorities were worried that Finnish forests would disappear. The purpose of the Forest Act was to promote the sustainable management and use of forests, and this has produced excellent results.
Nowadays, Finland’s forest coverage is 75% and the number of trees in Finnish forests has increased by 50% over the last 50 years. National forest inventories have been carried out in Finland already for 100 years, and as a result, Finland has very accurate information about its forests. Forest certification is at a good level and more than 50% of Europe’s strictly protected forests are located in Finland. The next step is to learn to commercialise this knowledge.