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Government adopts updated National Forest Strategy

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Publication date 21.2.2019 13.52 | Published in English on 21.2.2019 at 15.39
Press release

In its resolution today, the Government adopted the updated National Forest Strategy approved by the Forest Council in December. The vision and objectives of the Strategy, originally approved in 2015, remained primarily unchanged, but the project portfolio was updated to correspond to changes in the operating environment. The strategy now takes into account measures to safeguard climate sustainability and forest biodiversity more clearly than before.

The strategy describes the priority areas and measures concerning forest sector development that the public sector will focus on as part of joint development work. Some of the projects detailed in the original strategy have already been completed, and new, more topical projects have cropped up in their place.

The entirely new projects added to the strategy deal with climate-sustainable forestry, international forest policy, influencing at the EU level and developing products made from wood. Digitalisation and increasing pluralistic communication and interaction feature prominently as overarching themes in the strategy’s projects. In addition to these, more of the projects in the strategy now take into account the diversification of forest management methods and of business and industry, along with the safeguarding of biodiversity and the protection of water resources.

“The updated Forest Strategy brings stability and predictability to the forest sector and supports the creation of sector-wide added value. At the same time, the update emphasises forest biodiversity and the climate sustainability of forest use,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä.

Aiming for comprehensive sustainable development

The strategy was updated in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda), according to which policy measures must be planned to take into account the environment, the economy and society in a balanced way. In addition to the economy, the strategy takes into account ecological, social and cultural sustainability more clearly than before.

Although the rate of forest growth has increased, the target harvesting volume detailed in the strategy is the same as in 2015 and significantly smaller than what would be feasible from the perspective of sustainable wood production. Moving forward, forest growth will continue to be promoted through active, sustainable forest management. This way, there will be enough raw material to meet industrial needs and to replace fossil-based materials, while forests and wood products will also continue to serve as carbon sinks.

Climate change will exacerbate the risk of forest damage. With this in mind, the strategy places special emphasis on preparations for climate change, including ensuring a diverse tree stand and preventing the spread of non-indigenous species. The strategy also supports climate policy by promoting increased expertise concerning the management of swamp forests, the development of carbon stocks and carbon sequestration and the effects of forest management on adaptation to climate change.

The strategy’s forest biodiversity projects deal with nature management of commercial forests, the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO) programme and preservation of genetic resources in forest trees. Biodiversity conservation related to forests is otherwise guided by the National Biodiversity Strategy, which is complemented, for its part, by the Forest Strategy. When the Biodiversity Strategy is updated, the changes will also be taken into account in the Forest Strategy's goals and measures.

One of the most important preconditions for achieving the goals of the Forest Strategy is effective allocation of financing. Financing is needed especially for research and development activities, the METSO programme and maintenance of complex infrastructure.

The National Forest Strategy 2025, which was updated following comprehensive stakeholder work and several rounds of consultations, was approved by the Forest Council in 2018. The Forest Council is a Government-appointed board that supports the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in forest policy questions of wide importance that are significant for reasons of principle. The primary task of the Council, which was last appointed in 2015, has been to monitor and advance the implementation of the National Forest Strategy and to make proposals on the development of the programme. The four-year term of the current Forest Council will end in June. Work on renewing the National Forest Strategy began in spring 2018.

* Updated National Forest Strategy 2025 (at the moment only available in Finnish and Swedish)

Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Marja Kokkonen, Director, tel. +358 29 516 2444
Juha S. Niemelä, Director-General, tel. +358 29 516 2009
Katja Matveinen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 029 516 2287 (on holiday, available as of 25 February)
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