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
At present the value of forest industry production is about EUR 20 billion and it accounts for about a fifth 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 2016 services for wood harvesting and long-distance transport of wood were purchased for more than EUR 800 million. When all the multiplier effects are also taken into account, two of the five Finnish companies that produce the highest added value operate in the forest sector.
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 2016 the stumpage earnings of forest owners rose to more than EUR 2 billion. In that year 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 all Finns to benefit from forests. An estimated 60 kg of wild berries and mushrooms are picked from forests every year. Even cautiously estimated their value is well above EUR 100 million.