Slowing Growth in Finnish Forests Jeopardizes the Country’s Ability to Meet Its Climate Goals

The Finnish public broadcasting company on Thursday (10-13-22) reported that Finland’s forests will remain in decline for decades, according to key researchers in the field.

Researchers predict that the total growth of Finland’s forests will drop well below estimates calculated by the Natural Resource Institute of Finland. They further predict that forests will inevitably remain at a lower level for the next several decades.

The biggest reason behind the decline in growth that started in the 1950’s are the large changes in the structures of the forests. Finland utilized its forests intensively to accrue wealth after the world wars. Clear felling and bog ditching created a single generation of productive forests, but one of the outcomes is that forests are roughly the same age, albeit with some differences between southern and northern parts of the country.

The growth of the forests’ largest age group has started to decrease, and new ones will not replace it.

The Finnish government has outlined measures that seek to maintain the carbon sink at the current level and, in the longer term, strengthen it. However, the sufficiency of the measures has been questioned by, for example, the Finnish Climate Change Panel. If growth slows by up to 10%, it would require an adjustment of roughly 10 million tons in carbon dioxide calculations.

Although the difference between the annual increment and logging volume remained positive last year, the slowing growth of forests will narrow the difference and undermine future growth unless logging is reduced from the current level.

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