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Media release February 15, 2011  
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New publication ‘Forest sector in transition’:

Faster pace and wider perspective essential for forest sector renewal

By shifting the focus away from supporting existing structures, and channelling change towards renewal and diversification, the forest sector could become a thriving combination of new and traditional activities. This is the conclusion presented by the book ‘After the transition – The future of the Finnish Forest Sector,’ published on 15 February 2011 by the researchers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla.

The Finnish forest sector is undergoing one of the most dramatic transitions in its history. As a result, Finland’s forest sector looks set to differ from its current situation in a number of ways. Besides the new forest industry products, the development is moving towards services related to the industry and forest resources. To make the most of these new opportunities, wider perspectives and more effective policy measures are needed, states the new book, which was edited by Metla’s researchers Lauri Hetemäki, Sini Niinistö, Risto Seppälä and Jussi Uusivuori.

Focus should shift from supporting current structures to sectoral renewal

Various policy programmes, such as the National Forest Programme, have set the renewal and diversification of the forest sector as their objective. However, by concentrating on issues related to timber production and infrastructure, practical policy measures still maintain too much of the existing structures. On the contrary, the focus should be moved more strongly towards renewing the sector, rather than propping up its existing structure. The renewal and diversification of the forest sector requires also new entrepreneurs and capital. Not only does this involve finding new uses for wood but, in particular, the more efficient exploitation of a host of forest-related opportunities.

Expanding the value base of policy programmes

Lobbying organisations have played a key role in the preparation of Finland’s forest policy. The outcomes have often been compromises that merely tinker with the prevailing situation.
– Responding to the ongoing transition in the forest sector requires a greater ability to react than is currently possible. Policy programmes should abandon lobbying-centred thinking and boldly strike out towards policies that take better account of society’s well-being in general, summarises Professor Jussi Uusivuori, the leader of the research project behind the book.

Changes in the forest policy operating environment

Pursuing forest policy as an independent policy segment is becoming more difficult, as the links to energy and climate-related issues become closer. The administration, organisation and implementation of policy therefore require changes leading to a wide-ranging, coordinated approach covering natural resources and the environment.

Competitiveness of Finnish forest sector more and more reliant on services

– In future, services will account for a major share of jobs and value added in the forest sector. The forest sector already includes plenty of services based, for example, on management, research and development, consulting and education, and extension. In addition, nature-based tourism and recreational services, as well as business solutions exploiting the environmental values of forests, occupy a key place within the sector’s services. Development in this respect must be supported through more-effective policy measures, as well as emphasising service-related R&D work, notes Senior Researcher Lauri Hetemäki.

Research, education and training in a key role

Research, education and training play a key role in the forest sector’s renewal and diversification. Research has recently been steered towards fulfilling the needs of business world, in particular. According to the writers, however, research should be developed in a more balanced way and on a broader front.

– We must place more emphasis on independent research that promotes social welfare and serves also wider interests than merely those of the corporate world. To this end, in addition to technology-oriented research, the forest sector must secure the status of socio-economic and ecological research. Resources must also be secured for basic research, Professor Risto Seppälä points out.

The book ‘After the transition – The future of the Finnish Forest Sector’ was written on the basis of a research project launched in 2007, funded by the forest sector foundation Metsämiesten Säätiö and the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla. The book analyses the current transition affecting the forest sector, as part of the global changes in the operating environment. It also examines the transition’s impacts on the sector’s future and on policies governing forest use. In addition, the book introduces a new numerical policy simulation model for the Finnish forest and energy sectors.

For further information, please contact:

Publication:

  • Lauri Hetemäki, Sini Niinistö, Risto Seppälä and Jussi Uusivuori (eds.). After the transition – The future of the Finnsih Forest Sector. Metsäkustannus Oy
  • The publication is available (in Finnish) on the research project website

 

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