Forests mean a lot to Finns

That is why we are so keen on making sure we use wood energy wisely. That was also reason why the IKON was invented and developed in Finland. We want to enjoy the heat of the fireplace with good conscience – and without bad emissions.

Climate change is caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate change is causing the climate to heat up, the oceans to rise and glaciers to melt at an increasing pace.

Even though we cannot stop climate change completely, we can make choices that will slow down the damage it causes. However, we must act fast.

The proportion of carbon dioxide emissions is the most significant of all the gases that we now know are the cause of heating of the Earth, about 80%. About 75% of all carbon dioxide emissions come from the use of fossil fuels.

In Finland, for example, the biggest sources of emissions are energy production and transport. Heating takes a lot of energy in a cold country.

Luckily, carbon dioxide is also absorbed in the oceans, soil and plants. According to researchers, the forests of the northern and temperate zones are significant absorbers of carbon dioxide

We are lucky to have plenty of forests

Metsästä on moneksi

Over 70% of Finland’s land area is covered by forests. Indeed, our country has the largest area of forest in Europe in proportion to the area. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, we have approx. 20.3 million hectares of forest land suitable for timber production.

For a long time, Finland has been known as a producer of pulp and paper, but lately we have been developing new uses for wood harvested from our production forests: for example, as a replacement for disposable plastic and in composite materials and textiles.

Wood construction is also experiencing strong growth. Naturally, building single-family houses of wood has long traditions in Finland, but now we are also using wood for public buildings, such as libraries, schools, day-care centres and offices. Ecological wooden multi-storey buildings are being constructed in green urban areas. For example, a 14-storey wooden building, the highest in Finland and the Nordic countries, was completed in Joensuu in August.

In a country with extensive forests, increasing the use of wood in construction is sensible for environmental reasons in particular. A wooden building remains a carbon sink even though the trees used for building it are felled.

Energy from wood

Wood is also an important source of energy for Finns. In the 2010s, 8.2–9.2 million cubic metres of energy wood has been harvested annually. In 2018, bioenergy was Finland’s biggest source of energy, 115 TWh (30% of the total consumption of energy). Of this, the proportion of wood fuel was by far the largest, 91%, i.e. 104.5 TWh. Of all renewable energy, the proportion of bioenergy is over 80%. Its production increased by 43% in 2009–2018.

In Finland wood energy is mainly produced from the side streams of the forest industry and forestry. Firewood is also collected by thinning the forest. That in turn increases the growth of the remaining trees.

Forests are an irreplaceable carbon sink

Finland’s forests are an important carbon sink, not only for Finns but also for the entire population of the Earth. Accordingly, the sustainable use of our forest resources is vital for slowing down climate change.

The carbon sinks of Finnish forests annually absorb an amount of carbon dioxide that corresponds to around half of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. The growth of Finnish forests stores more carbon than is released through their use and natural drain.

Trees are a carbon sink during the period of growth. Trees in a phase of quick growth absorb more carbon than older forests, where the growth slows down. Above all, old forests are a carbon reservoir.

In 2017, Finland’s carbon sink totalled 27 million tonnes CO2 equivalent, corresponding to 48% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Finland is internationally committed to maintaining an annual carbon sink of 19 million tonnes CO2 equivalent until 2020.

According to the new Government Programme, Finland is striving to become carbon-neutral by 2035.

Due to EU legislation, emissions must be reduced to approx. 40–42 million tonnes per year by 2030 and even more quickly after that. Carbon sinks will play an increasing role in this.

 

 

 

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