Minister Jari Leppä at the Forest Academy for EU:
Finland proposes a forest fund as part of the EU-Africa partnership and investment programme
The International Panel on Climate Change IPPC identifies the prevention of forest loss and significant increase in the global forest area as the most effective means to mitigate climate change. The challenge is particularly great in Africa, where as much as 2 million hectares of forest is lost every year. Finland’s initiative, published at the Forest Academy for EU Decision Makers, concerning a forest fund to be established as part of the EU-Africa investment programme aims both to mitigate climate change and to create new employment opportunities for the growing numbers of young people in Africa.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed an alliance based on an equal partnership between Africa and Europe, including an investment programme of tens of billions of euros to promote Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. Investments worth billions of euros are required for measures to combat the loss of forests alone - afforestation, promoting forestry and management and protection of forests - and their financing could be supported from the forest fund proposed by Finland.
The fund could be used to promote many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Besides the impacts on carbon sink and employment, good forest management would contribute to preventing erosion and maintaining the microclimate that is important for food security. Sustainably produced wood would also respond to the raw material needs of the growing population, while at the same time protecting virgin forests and preventing illegal timber trade.
Land areas to be afforested mapped out in Finland as well
At the moment there is more wood in Finnish forests than ever, with more than 70% of the surface area covered with forest. Even here we are exploring the possibilities for afforestation. The project we have under way to map out land areas available for afforestation aims, in particular, to identify sites that would be the most effective in terms of strengthening the carbon sink.
Finland is also a strong player in implementing the updated Bioeconomy Strategy of the EU, where wood and other bio-based raw materials are used to substitute for fossil raw materials and the aim is to maximise efficiency in utilising and recycling raw materials and their side-streams. Wood ingredients are already being used in cosmetics, medicines, adhesives and plastics, and in future wood-based textiles may substitute for cotton and synthetic fibres. Next summer (on 9 June 2019) a broadly-based conference on the bioeconomy will be organised in Finland as parts of the programme for Finland’s EU Presidency.
Forest Academy for EU Decision Makers is a high-profile discussion forum convened jointly by the Prime Ministers of Finland and Sweden, now organised for the first time. The event in Lehmonkärki, Asikkala on 21–23 November 2018 brought together about 30 EU Decision Makers to learn about the most recent knowledge on the opportunities offered by the sustainable use of forests. The event was organised by the Finnish Forest Association.
Teppo Säkkinen, Special Adviser to Minister, tel. +358 516 2868, [email protected]