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Public opinions on forest usage drift apart in Finland

18 Nov 2018, 01:15 ( 6 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Photo Source VisitFinland/ Timo Oksanen.

Half of Finns do not want to increase the usage of forests in the country despite expert opinions saying that higher usage would not be incompatible with the effort to fight climate change, a poll revealed.

The poll released on Saturday by a Finnish language news agency Uutissuomalainen indicated that a third of the population actually favor reducing the forest consumption, while only ten percent endorse a wider usage.

The poll and recent statements from the political left and the greens indicated the gap between civic attitudes and the desire of forest industries has widened.

The Finnish national forest strategy aims at an increase to 80 million cubic meters annually. The target is less than the environmentally safe level of 84 million defined by the Finnish Natural Resources Center. Last year the trees that were cut down in Finland amounted to 72 million cubic meters.

Sari Vanninen, analyst of a Finnish language newspaper Keskisuomalainen, said that in the wake of the recent publication of the International Climate Panel report, the Finnish parliamentary election scheduled in next April is defined as "climate election".

In recent weeks, both the social democrats and the greens have started calling for restraint in the national plans. In the poll, increased consumption was accepted most actively by supporters of the center party.

The industries remain committed to the envisaged 80 million cubic meters. But Tomi Salo, director at the Finnish Forest Industry Association, told newspaper Keskisuomalainen on Saturday that the new target limit would not meet the expectation of all current investment plans.

There are at least five major forest industry expansion projects in Finland and they would need an increase of 17 million from the present level.

"If all the currently known plans would be put to practice, the wood resources of Finland would not suffice. This means that the dreams of everyone will not become reality," Salo said, adding that reliance on imported raw wood would be risky.

Local observers have noted that current Finnish opinion climate differs remarkably from the situation a year ago. In late 2017 the survival of the Finnish increase to 80 million in the EU debates was hailed in Finland as a national victory.