The forest industry continues its long-term sustainability efforts: the sustainability commitments’ progress report reflects a positive development
The Finnish forest industry’s second progress report on its voluntary sustainability commitments shows that the commitments are steering the entire industry in a more sustainable direction. The results documented in the report show positive development towards the ambitious goals set by the industry: The forest certification rate is rising, the quantity of decaying wood as well as large and broad-leaved trees is increasing in forests, the water pollution load of production facilities is decreasing, and the share of renewable energy in the forest industry’s energy production is approaching the target rate of 90%.
The industry’s commitments are exceptionally wide-ranging. In addition to environmental sustainability, they also cover the areas of social and economic responsibility.
“Well-managed sustainability and responsibility issues are a competitive factor for the forest industry. The progress report shows in concrete ways how versatile sustainability measures and solutions are implemented by the forest industry,” says Tiina Vuoristo, Sustainability Manager at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Significant progress towards the commitment goals
There are a total of seventeen commitments under six different themes. The progress report shows that the implementation of the commitments is moving in the desired direction.
Good progress has been made, for example, to promote biodiversity and the sustainable use of forests. Last year, the certification rate for wood and fibre used in Finland was 84 per cent. In 2019, the corresponding figure was 81 per cent, which means that in two years, there has been significant progress towards the certification target of 90 per cent.
The forest sector has been active in promoting forest biodiversity, and many structural features that are important for forest species have developed in a positive direction in forests.
“For example, the quantity of decaying wood as well as large and broad-leaved trees has increased. Achieving the objectives of the commitments will, however, require long-term work, and the forest industry will continue to take active measures to protect forest biodiversity. The Finnish Forest Industries Federation has just launched a research project on the subject, together with the Finnish Sawmills Association. The information gained from the study will be utilised in the industry’s biodiversity road map, which will be ready next year,” says Tiina Vuoristo.
Progress has also been made in reducing water pollution. The pulp and paper production accounts for only about 3 per cent of the entire nitrogen and phosphorus load from human activities that reaches Finland’s waterways. The nutrient load of waste water relative to the production of pulp and paper in terms of nitrogen and phosphorus has decreased by around 6 per cent compared to 2016. The development is therefore on the right path towards the target, which is to reduce the amount of nutrient emissions by 15 per cent by 2025.
The share of renewable energy in the forest industry’s energy production is approaching the target rate of 90 per cent. Nearly 88 per cent of fuels used by the forest industry were renewable in 2021 (87 per cent in 2019). This share will be further increased by investments to replace fossil fuels in combustion plants and by improving energy efficiency.
In 2012, the forest industry agreed on joint sustainability commitments. The sustainability commitments for 2025 were revised in early 2018. The first progress report was produced in 2020.
Read the full report here.
Read the results of the forest industry’s stakeholder survey (in Finnish).