We do not need to wait for a forest policy change to start reinforcing carbon sinks
Recent carbon sink fluctuations have given rise to public demands to change the Finnish forest policy. These demands have been based on reasons such as Finland’s inability to currently meet its carbon sink targets that were based on information from previous years.
The forest sector is actively engaging in efforts to strengthen carbon sinks, and there is no need to wait for a change in forest policy to keep up the good work. We already have plenty of tools to reinforce forest sinks. Good and timely forest management that strengthens forest growth should always serve as the starting point. This means fertilising forests, tending to seedling and young forest stands in a timely manner as well as brisk forest regeneration after felling. Bred seed and seedling materials should be used for regeneration whenever possible.
Other important measures include preventing deforestation, afforestation of unproductive lands and transitioning to continuous-cover silviculture in specific peatlands where natural regeneration potential is high. These actions were also raised by the Finnish Climate Change Panel in its recent report. Now all we need to do is step up our efforts.
Felling volumes are often brought up during climate and carbon sink discussions. The approaching elections have even sparked some populist ideas. However, focusing on felling volumes leads to a far too one-sided perspective on the forests’ role in climate work. The wood processing industry manufactures products that can help us leave the fossil-fuel based economy behind. The conditions for this change are good as the industry’s carbon handprint is far greater than its carbon footprint. Furthermore, wood processing mills’ low emissions have continued to decrease at a good pace.
Change occurs slowly in forests. Rushing to changes is simply not possible for Finland’s most important natural resource. Purposeful and wide-ranging co-operation is necessary to promote forest growth and biodiversity, and forests’ ecological, social and economical opportunities should be considered. The forest sector is always ready for this. The promotion of biodiversity is already underway with the wood processing industry’s extensive research project.