Forest bioeconomy comprises various industrial and production sectors and operations that are based on wood or forests. Operations such as the processing of forest biomass in the forest, energy, chemical or food industries are all included in the forest bioeconomy. This means that forest bioeconomy covers numerous different kinds of production processes that are based on wood raw material, and that the range of end-products is also highly diverse.
In addition to traditional products such as sawn goods or paper, wood and wood fibres produce raw materials for the production of e.g. textiles, chemicals, cosmetics, transport fuels, medicines, smart packaging, coatings, adhesives, plastics, composites, animal feed and functional foods. New uses and methods are being sought and developed further. Different kinds of products are presented e.g. in the forest bioeconomy future catalogue.
Besides the raw materials produced by forests for different kinds of industrial processes and products, the forest bioeconomy also comprises the recreational use of forests: berries, game animals and nature tourism. Certain intangible benefits of forests are also important, even vital for us. These include the oxygen produced by trees into the atmosphere and prevention of soil erosion.
One of the core ideas of the forest bioeconomy is to make effective use of raw materials, mainly wood and its different components, and technologies, services and energy offered by forests. The aim is to increase the use of wood in production where the raw material base has traditionally been non-renewable. A good example of this is replacing different types of plastics with wood-based materials. The bioeconomy is closely linked to the concepts of sustainability, circular economy, resource smart processes and carbon neutrality.
Resource efficiency and recycling are part of the forest industry
Finnish forest industry makes efficient use of the raw materials it has acquired and the different kinds of side-streams and wastes that are generated. Processes are developed to produce more of the end-product from less raw material and with less impact on the environment. Almost all forest industry by-products are utilised in further processing. For example, chips generated as a by-product in sawmilling are used as raw material for pulp and particle board. The by-products of pulp mills, in turn, include various chemicals as well as electricity and heat. The recycling and recovery rate of packaging materials and paper is very high in Finland.
Finnish bioeconomy still leans strongly on the forest sector
The share of bioeconomy in the total output and value added of the national economy has stayed about the same for the past ten years. The forest sector is still the most important sector in the bioeconomy. Details on the value added of the bioeconomy by sectors are available on the website of the Natural Resources Institute Finland
Forest Bioeconomy Science Panel strengthens the knowledge base of a sustainable forest-based value chain
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed the Finnish Forest Bioeconomy Science Panel to support the preparation of policy measures and decision-making related to forests, the forest industry and forest-based ecosystem services.
The term of the Science Panel is 1 January 2023–31 December 2026. Read more about the Science Panel at https://metsatiedepaneeli.fi .
Strategies, programmes and reports
The Rapidly Developing Nordic Bioeconomy (2018)
From forests to pioneering bioeconomy: Final report on the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 2015)
Wood Building Programme (Ministry of the Environment)
Strategic Programme for a Circular Economy (Ministry of the Environment 2021)
Plastics Roadmap for Finland: Reduce, refuse, recycle and replace (Ministry of the Environment)
Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy 2022-2035