National Forest Council adopts new National Forest Strategy
On 14 December 2022, the National Forest Council adopted Finland’s new National Forest Strategy, which extends until 2035. The new National Forest Strategy is a growth strategy that seeks growth of both forests and business and, first of all, growing wellbeing both from forests and for forests.
The strategy summarises the key priorities and objectives for the development of the forest sector. The strategy was drawn up together with the relevant stakeholders during 2022 by making wide use of the available knowledge and data and stakeholder interaction. The need for reform arose from the rapid changes in the environment where the forest sector operates, both nationally and internationally. In line with the current thinking, the strategy takes into account the principle of comprehensive sustainable development and the important role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The implementation of the new Forest Strategy will begin at the beginning of 2023.
“Because of the changes in the world around us, there is a genuine need for a revised National Forest Strategy at the moment. I am really looking forward to getting started with the implementation work right at the beginning of next year. I wish to thank all stakeholders involved in the preparation and all those who made their voice heard during the process. This strategy is a joint effort, and we will also put it into practice together,” says Senior Ministerial Adviser Erno Järvinen.
The National Forest Strategy is a coordinating strategy for the whole sector that brings together both humans and the environment, and the economy. The strategy aims to implement a responsible economy of wellbeing, and a particular focus is on self-sufficiency, security of supply and climate, and on biodiversity and vitality. The renewal of forest-based business and activities is at the heart of the strategy.
The vision of the National Forest Strategy 2035 is “Growing Wellbeing from Forests and for Forests.” The four strategic objectives are:
- Finland is a competitive operating environment for a responsible forest sector that is capable of renewing itself.
- Forests are in active, sustainable and diverse use.
- We strengthen the vitality, diversity and adaptability of forests.
- We strengthen knowledge-based management and competence in the forest sector.
Each objective has a set of goals under it, to be achieved by means of three key projects composed of concrete measures to achieve them. The key projects implementing the strategy are growth of forests, biodiversity in commercial forests and renewal and competitiveness of the forest sector.
WWF Finland and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation presented a dissenting opinion on the strategy. However, the associations expressed their wish to continue good collaboration in the implementation of the strategy with all stakeholders involved in the work. The next Forest Council meeting will be in January 2023.
Impact assessment of the strategy – broad stakeholder engagement
An independent ex ante evaluation was conducted to support the process to prepare the strategy. The aim was to improve the quality and impact of the strategy throughout the process. The evaluation focused on developing the structure and content of the strategy and the functioning of its implementation, monitoring and financing, and assessment of the overall impacts of the strategy from the perspective of sustainable development. The evaluation was conducted by Gaia Consulting and Pellervo Economic Research PTT in February–October 2022.
The results show that the engagement aspect was diverse and the expectations of different stakeholders were well taken into account in the process to prepare the strategy. The strategy were considered to appropriately support the climate and biodiversity objectives. Obvious conflicts with international or national requirements related to the climate or environment or to equality and non-discrimination were not identified. Instead, policy coherence and ensuring this in the implementation of the strategy was seen as a challenge.
Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
- Erno Järvinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Head of Forests and Bioenergy Unit, tel. +358 295 162 150
- Satu Rantala, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 162 045
- Eeva-Liisa Jorri, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 162 018
(email addresses are in the format email@example.com)