Catch the Carbon ‒ emissions reduced and carbon sinks and reservoirs increased in the land use sector

The Government's Catch the Carbon programme contains a good number of climate measures concerning agriculture, forestry and land use changes. The climate actions taking place in the sector need to be based on scientific evidence, developed in extensive cooperation with stakeholders and have a wide acceptance in the sector. In addition, all this must be done in a sustainable way taking into account environmental, social, and economical sustainability, as well as biodiversity.

Cultivation methods, techniques, products and services developed in agriculture

In agriculture, cultivation methods, techniques, products and services are promoted that contribute to carbon sequestration and storage and reduce emissions.

The aim is to

  • reduce emissions from peatland farming (e.g. perennial ecological grasslands, controlled subsurface drainage),
  • increase carbon sequestration and storage in mineral soils,
  • develop wetland cultivation and promote the marketing of its products,
  • diversify farming, increase crop rotations and promote high-value added products, and
  • promote international initiatives and measures to increase carbon sequestration in agricultural soils (e.g. “4 per 1000” initiative).

During the current EU programming period climate measures have been funded under the common agricultural policy (CAP). The common agricultural policy is currently under reform, and in the new programming period that starts in 2021 as much as 40% of the CAP funding in the EU should be used for climate measures.

Forest management methods developed to strengthen forest growth and carbon sequestration

The aim of climate-sustainable forestry is to maintain and strengthen forest carbon sinks by taking good care of forest management, productivity and health and by promoting diverse methods to grow and treat forests.

A new model for using peatland forests that is based on scientific grounds and can be applied in practice will be developed where a comprehensive approach is adopted on peatland forests, including the wood supply, climate, biodiversity, nature and wildlife management and water protection perspectives.

Measures to promote forest productivity and health and strengthen carbon sinks include

  • developing continuous cover forestry models to be included in regular forest management practices,
  • promoting mixed-stand forests,
  • increasing forest growth by promoting the use of bred forest reproductive material and especially ash fertilisation of peatlands, and
  • strengthening the adaptation of forests and management of climate risks.

Synergies and possible conflicts between climate and biodiversity targets and measures will also be considered.

Forest management recommendations will be updated on the basis of the most recent scientific knowledge and practical experiences. The review and further specification of the recommendations relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation is also under way.

Forest area increased and forest loss reduced

Finland’s forest area can be increased through afforestation. From 2021 onwards a land owner can, subject to certain conditions, be eligible for financial support for the afforestation of wasteland. The act entered into force at the beginning of 2021. The support is granted by the Forest Centres. Areas considered suitable for afforestation are arable parcels excluded from agricultural use and former peat production areas. The measure is not intended for the afforestation of agricultural lands used for cultivation. Afforestation of meadows, pastures and clearings that are important in terms of their environmental and nature value is also not eligible.

Because of the large forest area we have in Finland, forests are still being converted into built-up area and agricultural land (forest loss). The emissions from forest loss are quite high in Finland. Efforts are made to reduce the clearing of forest into agricultural land by developing the processing and utilisation of animal manure (incl. the biogas programme) and planning and advisory services. With respect to built-up areas, a charge to be collected for land use changes and other possible steering instruments are being considered. 

Wetlands can be used for water protection and flood control and as game animal habitats. Carbon dioxide emissions caused by the decomposition of peat can be reduced by raising the water level in drained areas. The climate impacts, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions, also depend on the initial situation, e.g. whether the peatland is nutrient rich or nutrient poor. The set of measures includes a study on the climate benefits of rewetting low yielding drained areas that are not in active use, how such rewetting should be done and how these areas could be used e.g. in wetland cultivation or flood mitigation.

Cross-sectoral measures

In this set of measures studies are conducted on the introduction and functioning of the carbon markets and responsible and sustainable carbon leasing in the land use sector. The ways to provide different operators and stakeholders with reliable information on the climate impacts and effectiveness of different kinds of measures that promote carbon sequestration and reduce emissions are also being considered.

To support the implementation in the land use sector, a research, development and innovation programme will be launched, an information programme for the sector will be drawn up to promote the use of data sets, and communication, interaction and competence will be strengthened.

Climate measures are implemented across the different sectors and they are linked to several other Government strategies, programmes and projects (e.g. National Forest Strategy 2025, common agricultural policy, Climate Food Programme, set of measures concerning the nutrient cycle and development programme on arable land structure). Read more about the individual projects under the climate change plan for the land use sector at the projects website.

Related topics
Climate plan for the land use sector
Common Agricultural Policy, CAP
Responsibly from farm to fork 
National Forest Strategy 2025 
Making use of agricultural nutrients -project