Forests and the economy

Forests have always had a significant role in the Finnish economy and for the Finns, even if the export products of the forest industry have varied at different times. Tar production was introduced centuries ago alongside with the hunting of fur animals, and sawmilling industry got started in the 19th century. Sawmilling grew in the 20th century, together with the extensive pulp and paper industries, which still today are the foundation of the modern industries that are based on the use of wood.

Besides export income forests have always provided other economic benefits, including stumpage earnings, building materials, fuelwood and energy, berries and mushrooms, manufacturing of various kinds of tools and utensils, and nature-based tourism. Today the spectrum of livelihoods and sources of income that are founded on forests is broad indeed.

Forest industry is one of the key sectors for the Finnish economy

In 2017 the value of forest industry production was over EUR 22 billion. Forest sector accounts for about 20 per cent of Finland’s export revenue. What makes forest industry even more important is the fact that the inputs and services needed in the production are of domestic origin. In 2017 services for wood harvesting and long-distance transport of wood were purchased for more than EUR 800 million. The annual appreciation of the forest sector is around EUR 15 billion (2014).

Forest sector depends on profitable forest operations

Commercial utilisation of forests is based on forest management and decisions and measures taken by forest owners. Forest operations must be economically profitable in order that investments are made in forest management and the wood markets function as they should. Forests are a significant source of income or property item for hundreds of thousands of Finnish forest owners. In 2018 the stumpage earnings of private forest owners rose to more than EUR 2.3 billion and altogether the gross stumpage earnings were EUR 2.66 billion. At the same time, the forest owners invested an estimated EUR 300 million in forest management. These investments ensure the sustainability of forest operations and opportunities to use forests also for the future generations.

Multiple benefits from multiple uses of forests

Forestry operations are no obstacle to berry and mushroom picking and other use of forests for recreation. Everyman’s right, the right of public access, enables everybody to benefit from forests. Roughly 60 million kilograms of wild berries and mushrooms are picked from forests every year. Even cautiously estimated their value is well above EUR 100 million.

Related links
Stumpage earnings
Luke’s Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook 2018–2019: Exports are booming, and felling reached a new record (Natural Resources Institute Finland)

Further information

Satu Rantala, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Luonnonvaraosasto, Metsä- ja bioenergiayksikkö 0295162045