Forests are part of the Finnish national identity and for excellent reasons. Finland is a ‘forest giant’, with roughly sixteen times more forest per capita on average than other European countries. It is said to have ten trees for every person in the world. Forests are the nation’s ‘green gold’, making Finland a forest-rich country in every sense. This is good for the economy, as well as the climate, as the forests “sequestrate" huge amounts of the carbon.
On 24 November, the Finnish government unveiled a new climate and energy strategy where it revealed its intention to increase wood harvests by nearly 25%. The risks related to this new policy has been highlighted by Satu Hassi, a member of the Finnish Parliament for the Green Party. But also scientists and neutral institution raised their voices. The Finnish Natural Resources Institute warned that this policy will lead Finland’s forest carbon sink will halve, from 26.6 million tonnes down to 13.3. This is largely caused by the substantial increase in harvesting, more than 30%, compared to the previous decade. They also show that had the additional forest use been kept at current levels, our forest sinks would grow even further and be an even better buffer against climate change. So in the very decades when we need to increase that carbon stored in the forest, Finland, as well as many other countries in the EU, are doing the exact opposite.
In reality, there is nothing the EU can do about this, and it is not trying to do anything: Finland will not be forced to change this strategy in any way.