Research, training and education in forestry
Because of the great importance of forests for Finnish society,
Finland has invested in forest research and forestry education
and training. The forest cluster is one of the most important national
clusters of expertise. Finland also aims at becoming an international
cluster of excellence in the forest and wood sector.
|Field experiments such as forest seed collection for measuring the
annual seed crops are necessary for studying forest regeneration
In the last few years, particular focal areas of forest research
in Finland have been changes in the operating environment of the forestry and forecasting. The purpose is to direct the research
from forest ecosystem-based research with main focus
on growing tree stands and forest management towards a more
customer-oriented research approach that serves the business
sector. It is estimated that for the forest sector, the best future
potential for success lies in bioeconomy based on renewable
natural resources. Based on this vision, research has been increased
especially on forest bioenergy and new opportunities
for the use of wood.
The role, structural aspects and position of sectoral research
institutes have been studied in a working group on sectoral research.
With key expertise in natural resources and environment,
the Consortium of Natural Resources and Environmental
Research (LYNET) has been set up to provide a new operational
model. This consortium is formed by research institutes under
the administrative sectors of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
and the Ministry of the Environment, and its members are
the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the Finnish Geodetic
Institute, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the Finnish
Forest Research Institute (Metla), the Finnish Game and
Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL), and the Finnish Environment
Institute (SYKE). The institutes will harmonise their
data policies and environmental monitoring. Moreover, operations
of the member institutes are improved by combining and
centralising operations and services.
The Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation
(SHOKs) are innovative Finnish partnerships whose main
goal is to promote cooperation and communication between
companies, universities, research institutes and funding organisations
operating in Finland. The actors commit themselves to
the objectives of the Strategic Centres and target their resources
to strategic, high-quality, long-term research and development
projects which are internationally important. The Strategic
Centres correspond to the thematic Joint Technology Initiative
projects defined in the Seventh EU Framework Programme,
such as the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform for
the forest sector.
Currently, there are three forestry-related Strategic Centres for
Science, Technology and Innovation in Finland. One is Forestcluster
Ltd, which focuses on three fields: intelligent and resource-
efficient production technologies, biorefineries which utilise
wood in various ways, and customer solutions for the future.
Forest is also linked to the operation of Cleen Ltd., the energy
and environment competence cluster. Its objective is to promote
business and internationalisation of companies in the energy
and environment sector. Of its strategic research areas, distributed
energy systems are connected to forest bioenergy and related
development of technology. Finnish Wood Research Oy
promotes research on the mechanical wood-processing sector.
The national Centre of Expertise Programme 2007–2013 is
also under way. Among the programme’s 13 competence clusters,
there are three clusters in which forest research plays an
important role. These clusters are Energy Technology, Forest Industry
Future and Living Cluster Programme.
The successful functioning of the system of expertise clusters
means that practical research needs are communicated to research
without delay, and that the new information and expertise
produced by research is put to use efficiently. The interaction
between researchers and actors in the field is enhanced, above
all, by improving procedures and structures and increasing the
usability of information services.
Research organisations and actors
There are about 650 researchers in Finland working on subjects
involving forest and wood. About 300 of them work at the Finnish
Forest Research Institute (Metla), distributed among four
regional units (Southern, Western, Eastern and Northern Regional
Units). Forestry research is also conducted at the University
of Eastern Finland and the University of Helsinki, which have
about 100 forest researchers along with forestry education.
Research teams working on subjects closely related to forestry
and wood sector are also found at Aalto University, at the
Universities of Jyväskylä, Turku, Oulu and Lapland, and at
the Tampere University of Technology and the Lappeenranta
University of Technology. There are also a number of
small research units in forest issues in establishments such as
the TTS (Work Efficiency Institute), Pellervo Economic Research
PTT and Metsäteho Oy.
The strongest concentrations of research in forestry and its environmental
impacts are in the Helsinki region and in eastern
Mechanical processing of wood and paper and pulp manufacture
are studied at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
and at several universities of technology. The Finnish Environment
Institute (SYKE) and Centres for Economic Development,
Transport and the Environment operating under the Ministry of
the Environment also conduct surveys and studies on forests
and research serving the administration.
The headquarters of the European Forest Institute (EFI) is located
in Finland. EFI is a network organisation whose purpose
is to compile information for forest policy and forestry decisionmaking
in Europe. In addition to the headquarters in Joensuu,
EFI has six project centres in different parts of Europe.
The principal source of funding for forest research in Finland
has for decades been the annual appropriations in the central
Government budget. In the last ten years, however, the share
of other funding has grown to about 30% of all research funding
The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation,
Tekes is the tool of the Ministry of Employment and
the Economy for implementing the national innovation programme,
and it also funds forest-related research programmes
and projects independent of the Strategic Centres. Funding from
the Academy of Finland is mainly targeted at basic research,
and it is an important funding source for university researchers
Increasing numbers of Finnish forest researchers participate in
international research projects and projects funded by the European
Union, as well as in network cooperation, such as COST
(Cooperation in the Fields of Scientific and Technical Research
in Europe). EU-funded research projects focus on themes important
from a European perspective, but they often have a great
significance nationally as well. Also the number of research and
development projects implemented in cooperation with developing
countries has increased, including, for example, forest
resource inventories and carbon sequestration assessments.
Bilateral research cooperation is carried out with, for example,
Russia and China.
Education and training
|Modern harvesters are highly developed products were the
steering of fellings is done by a driver from the cabin with the
help of computers. There is a cap of skilled harvester drivers in
Finland and internationally. Therefore campaigns to get young
people interested to start an educational harvester driver training
A competent workforce is a central factor for success in the
forest sector. The integration of the qualitative and quantitative
goals and future needs of education calls for continuous
interaction between forestry and forest industry businesses and
those making plans for education.
Education in forestry in Finland is provided on three levels: universities,
universities of applied sciences and vocational colleges.
The degree of Master of Forest Science, M.Sc.(Forestry), can be
completed at the Universities of Helsinki and Eastern Finland.
In 2012, the University of Eastern Finland will start an international
wood science programme, which is a new degree
parallel to the forest science degree.
There are eight universities of applied sciences providing education
in forestry. The forestry degree that may be completed
there is Forest Engineer. In the labour market, Forest Engineers
work within the forest sector and related organisations in positions
that involve planning, consultation, management, education,
training, marketing and research, and as private entrepreneurs.
The three-year Vocational Qualification in Forestry includes a
wide range of fields for specialisation. Students can choose to
specialise as a e.g. forest worker, a forest machine operator or
a forest ecosystem worker.
About 1,500 people study subjects in the field of forest industry
annually. The majority take an upper-secondary degree,
leading to a career in the mechanical wood products industry
and the pulp and paper industry. A university-level degree in
wood processing technology is completed annually by about
Further and Specialist Qualifications based on skills testing focus
on the student’s actual competence in mastering the special
tasks of the profession. Further Qualifications are available in
the fields of multiple use of forests, forest work, forestry entrepreneurship,
operating forest machines, timber lorry transport
and peat utilisation. Specialist Qualifications are available in
nature surveying, multiple-use of forests, operating forest machines
and forest advice.
Some further professional training is provided by employers,
the rest is supplied by education institutions and universities
providing forestry education.
The need for further education has grown constantly along
with changes in the operating environment and priority areas
in the work.