The Hellenic-Finnish Chamber of Commerce organized an online seminar to present and discuss best practices for sustainable forest management and environmentally friendly forestry on December 8, 2021, with the theme: Sustainable Forests and Forestry in the 21st Century – Best Practice from Finland.
- Giorgos Livanios, Chairman, FHCC
- Teemu Lehtinen, Secretary of the Board of Directors, FHCC
- Dr. Dionysia Avgerinopoulou, Chair of the Environment Committee, Hellenic Parliament
- Dr. Leena Leskinen, Forest Director, Finnish Forest Centre
- Marko Mäki-Hakola, Forest Director, The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK)
- Dr. Karoliina Niemi, Forest Director, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
For decades, if not for centuries already, Finland has lived from its forests. Literally. Forests have provided protection, source of warmth and energy, income and a place to relax and explore for the Finns since times long gone already. This long tradition and the “forest culture” is deeply rooted in the Finnish society and the way in which forests are grown, protected and used for both economic and recreational purposes.
After the catastrophic wildfires of summer 2021 in Greece, Finnish-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce decided to support reforestation process by bringing examples of best practice, experience and models which could be used to regrow forests, protect them while benefiting from them sustainably. There is a need to create a wider understanding of the importance of forests, biodiversity and the “forest culture” in Greece. And the FHCC wishes to contribute to this.
Dr Dionysia Avgerinopoulou: Current challenges and road towards wider international cooperation
Dr Avgerionopoulou emphasized the role of forests as carbon sinks and as a crucial part of the 2030 EU strategy. She noted that in the next 8 years, Greece aims at reducing its CO2 emissions by 55% and arrive to full carbon neutrality by 2050. Biodiversity offered by forests across the country is an extremely important factor, and well managed sustainable forests can also play a significant role in ecotourism.
Greece will mobilize 59bn euro in the next 5 years to develop a greener and more digital Greece 2.0. Considerable amounts of money will be targeted to reforestation of Parnitha mountain the surrounding areas which have an immediate positive impact on the air quality of the whole Attica region. The firefighting equipment and systems will undergo an important upgrade.
The collaboration between private and public sectors is very valuable in this as is the international collaboration, sharing of experiences and knowledge.
Dr Leena Leskinen: Forestry in Finland and lessons from wildfire projects
Finns have spent large amount of funds to develop remote sensing technologies and forest inventory to enable effective and rapid action in case of forest fires.
Metsaan.fi offers both forest owners as well as authorities a fully integrated central forest data system which allows the owner to see at a glance:
- Mapping of his forest plots
- Recommended forest management actions based on the data collected from his forests
- Urgently advised pruning, thinning and cuttings
The database gives a full forest inventory with the purpose of maximizing the wood and minimising the waste. The more recent development and project which is already ongoing is to adapt these inventories and data to the climate change so that it take better into account extreme weather conditions, longer dry periods and strong rains.
Dr. Leskinen further highlighted how the Forest Center is using this system to develop high quality risk mapping for dryer months in order to be able to protect forests better from fires. These super detailed risk maps covering the whole country provide detailed information about the trees and the total wood mass, where the trees are located in the terrain, where the nearest water resources are and where does the well-maintained forest road network reach.
A lot of this technology is developed in collaboration with the private sector – after all over 60% of the forests are owned by Finnish families, some
Marko Mäki-Hakola: Finnish Forest Care Association model and protection of forests by private owners
As most of the Finnish forests are privately held, the privately organized forest management plays a crucial role in ensuring the biodiversity, sustainability and growth of the forests. The Finnish Forest Owners are organized at the central and local levels for over 100 years already and they represent the owners interests at all levels of the government. The local Forest Management Associations serve the owners through their 1,500 staff and contractors.
The available centrally managed digital mapping and data management systems, the well-integrated own forest protection and sustainability programmes of forest owners (Helmi Habitats, Metso 2008-30) ensure that the owners are fully informed of what their abilities and opportunities regarding their forests at any given moment. Mr. Mäki-Hakola showed his own forest plots and the data the central forest management database gives him on the forests he owns.
Dr Karoliina Niemi, Finnish Forest Industry and sustainability
Just as the Forest Owners, the Forest Industry, which accounts for 20% of Finnish exports, is organized centrally since over 100 years. It represents the interests of over 70 businesses which sawmills and wood products to companies which produce pulp, paper, paperboard and board. The Finnish Forest industries provide employment for over 100,000 people and pay over 3.6bn taxes to the Finnish Government.
Dr. Niemi pointed out that the current forest industry megatrends still support growth in demand, and this demand is driven by more and more specialized, high quality technologically advanced wood products from wood containing fabrics to medical growth medium gels, specialized fire safe wooden construction materials and even battery chemicals.
The objective of forest industries in the 21st century should be ensure a circular wood based bioeconomy and resource efficiency using all parts of each individual tree and managing the forest succession of different growth stages in an eternal loop. Climate-friendly wood based products which take into account the biodiversity and sustainability requires a combination of measures in forestry: legislation, voluntary protection and resturation programmes (Helmi, Metso) as well as voluntary action such as forest certification and nature management projects.
Finnish-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce wants to support and assist the public debate on forests and sustainability in Greece by organizing this webinar to re-examine how we treat and use our forests in Greece. We are already in process of developing further actions with the Greek authorities and will be happy to provide you with any further information you may require.