Forest industry in Finland
|Modern paper and pulp
factories operate with
integrated approach using
industrial by-products (waste
liquors and waste wood such
as black liquor, bark, sawdust
and process waste and
recycled wood) for the
production of heat and
energy. Nowadays it is aimed
also to produce biofuels and
other products based on
wooden fibre. The factories
have also established the
closed loop water recycling,
where waste water used in
production is thoroughly
cleaned and reused.
The industrial use of forests for sawn timber and paper products
began in the late 19th century. In 2010, forestry and the forest industry contributed about 5% of the GDP. Relative to
its size, Finland is more dependent on forests and the forest industry
than any other country in the world. As a consequence,
Finland has accumulated an expertise in forestry and industrial
manufacturing of forest products that is unique in Europe. For
instance, the majority of Europe’s paper industry engineers are
trained in Finland, as are a considerable number of harvester
drivers proficient in the Nordic CTL harvesting system.
The pressures of internationalisation, a reorientation of production
in the pulp and paper industry and an extensive need for
new investments triggered an intense process of change in the
field of forest industry in the early 1980s. Through acquisitions
and mergers, this led to the creation of huge international forest
industry corporations, some of them among the largest in the
world. The three largest corporations account for more than 90%
of all production in the paper and pulp industry between them;
two decades ago, the corresponding figure was about 35%.
The worldwide recession and the decline in the demand for
paper products in industrialised countries have led to a cut
of almost 20% in pulp and paper industry production capacity
in Finland since 2008. At the same time, the gross value of
the forest industry’s output dropped to about EUR 16 billion.
But whatever the economic situation, the forest sector is a key
player in promoting sustainable development in Finland. Indeed,
the ongoing structural change in the forest industry focuses
not only on improving existing products but also on developing
new bioproducts and energy solutions based on forest
resources and wood. In the wood product industry, the use of
wood in construction in particular is expected to be a significant
growth area, since wood is a low-energy, renewable construction
material throughout its life cycle while providing long-term
Most of the products of the Finnish forest industries are exported.
The most important market is the European Union. Exports
there account for nearly 70% of the total exports of the sector.
The major export countries are Germany, the UK, the USA,
France and Spain.
A hundred years ago, forest industry products accounted for
no less than 80% of Finland’s total exports of goods; today,
the figure is slightly about 20%. Products of the pulp and paper
industries account for about three fourths of the exports of
all products of the forest industry, while the percentage woodproducts
industries is about 25%.
Owing to new technology and advanced production processes,
the forest industry’s discharges into water and emissions into
air have been considerably reduced in the last 20 years, even
though the volume of production has multiplied many times
over during the same period. The emphasis on environmental
factors has gradually shifted towards product life cycle issues,
efficient use of natural resources, recycling and use of renewable
energy. For instance, 70% of the paper used in Finland is
recycled, which is a considerable achievement even in an international
context, considering the low population density of the
country: globally, the average recycling percentage for paper is
40% to 45%.