Koli Forum 2020 Round Table focused on sustainable use of natural resources, bioeconomy and circular economy

Based on the discussions in the 2020 Round Table event, the Koli Forum 2021 will be focusing on the sustainable use of natural resources, circular bioeconomy, and enhancing dialogue based on scientific knowledge. Koli Forum 2021 will emphasize global and cross-sectoral cooperation, bringing forward viewpoints from e.g. the financial sector.

Our keynote speakers gave us updates on the current megatrends (Jyrki Katainen, Sitra), climate change (Petteri Taalas, WMO) and COVID-19 recovery and the Finnish economy (Vesa Vihriälä, Helsinki University). Matleena Kniivilä (Luke) finalized the keynote session by presenting the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on forest sector in Europe and Finland.

On Thursday, our afternoon session focused on new and emerging products. Heli Antila (Fortum) introduced their Fortum Bio2X project which has the mission to produce high-value products from agro-residues and woody biomass to replace fossil and other environmentally detrimental raw materials. Vesa Tempakka (Vapo Group) shared one of their new businesses, the production of activated carbon, which is an effective method in purifying air and water and cleaning our environment. The global demand for activated carbon products is growing due to increasing pollution caused by global population growth, he said. Michael Carus (NOVA Institute) gave us an overview of innovative bio-based products for the chemical industry. We also heard from Eero Reijonen, who shared insights of how the famous wooden Lighthouse Joensuu was planned and built from the viewpoint of a building company.

Roger Sathre (Institute for Transformative Technologies) gave our last presentation of the day. He noted that the GHG effects of wood substitution include less fossil energy use in manufacturing, avoided process emissions, use of biomass residues to replace fossil fuels and temporary carbon storage in products. But key is sustainable forest management, he said.

On Friday, we focused on forests and climate and started with Jyri Seppälä’s (Syke) talk on forest carbon offsets and how in Europe, there is an increasing interest to use forests for the compensation of greenhouse gas emissions. He noted that buyers especially want to use compensations produced from domestic projects. Tuomo Kauranne (Arbonaut) shared examples of how easily forest fires can start and how they become catastrophic, but also how they could be tamed. He highlighted prescribed burning as one option for this.

Hannele Arvonen (Sveaskog) introduced how by taking a landscape approach, Sveaskog aims to increase forest growth, climate mitigation and adaption, to preserve and to increase biodiversity and look for options to differentiate ambitions within and between landscapes. This is also a climate smart strategy, she said. The concept of climate smart forestry was then elaborated by Gert-Jan Nabuurs (Wageningen University & Research). He noted it can be a powerful tool but it has its challenges. The European Commission and Member States need better ways to collaborate as local circumstances and actions are crucially important.

Koli Forum Round Table discussion was organized as hybrid event on 8-9 October 2020 at the Koli Sokos Hotel, Koli National Park, Finland. Our warmest thanks to all our participants at Koli and online, as well as to our speakers across the world.