Hot topics were discussed at the Koli Forum’s Round Table – Proposed EU climate policies & the role of forestry

A representative group of members of the Koli Forum Association and its stakeholders gathered at Koli, Finland, in October to discuss timely issues related to the role of forests in the European climate policies.

Chairman of the Koli Forum Association’ board, Professor Jyrki Kangas opened the meeting and expressed a special welcome to Tornator Oy, who recently joined the Association. Professor Pekka Leskinen from the European Forest Institute introduced the participants to the mechanisms related to the forest carbon sink calculations and shared his views on the implications of the European Parliament’s recent vote regarding this issue. He highlighted the importance of material substitution and the need to take it properly into account in future calculations.

Professor Risto Päivinen from Tapio Oy presented the results from a study that described the socioeconomic impacts on the forest sector caused by this potentially emerging EU regulation related to forest carbon sinks. His key message was about the leakage effects: The proposed regulation only relocates timber harvesting and processing as well as related job opportunities outside Europe without being able to generate the desired climate impacts.

The first day’s final presentation focused on opportunities opening up in the forest-based bioeconomy – inspite of the potentially emerging legislation. These messages were delivered by Mr. Rainer Häggblom, Chairman of the board of Häggblom & partners. He pointed out the need to focus on efficient use of raw materials, the role of substitution, life cycle approach and innovative solutions. He went on by saying that an important and often forgotten aspect related to the above mentioned  leakage effect of forest industry production is also the simultaneous leakage of production related carbon and other environmental footprints.

The second day of the meeting was focussing on discussions on the future role and needed activities of the Koli Forum Association. Background for the panel discussion on the previous day’s topics was provided by two practitioners:  Mr. Jukka Kantola, CEO of Kaicell Fibers and Mr. Jouko Virranniemi, CEO of Pölkky Oy, shared their experiences from the investors’ and operators’ point of view. Both speakers stressed the point that the present situation has already caused considerable unrest among the investors and this situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible.

The two-day meeting was filled with very interesting discussions and many good new initiatives.  The participants agreed that this type of forum is an ever more important platform to discuss and to influence and that there is a clear need for proactive, scientific research based actor who gathers the views.