Finland Wins Crucial EU Forestry Vote

Vote means Finnish forestry owners can keep chopping down more trees, as long as they replace them with more carbon-capture forests.

File photo, Finnish trees / Credit; News Now Finland

The Finnish government and the forest industry claimed a victory today, after a vote in the European Parliament on the method of calculating carbon sinks in forests.

Strasbourg lawmakers had wanted to limit the amount of trees that can be cut down, and keep it at the same level as 2009, as part of the Land Use, Land Use Change or LULUC regulation which wants to make sure Europe’s forestry levels stay high, as a way to soak up carbon emissions.

But Finland wanted to chop down more trees – especially as there’s new potential to turn wood pulp into fuel. That would have put them in breach of the EU regulations as proposed.

However, most Finnish MEPs and the Finnish forestry lobby, successfully got an amendment to the rules approved, that means Finnish companies can continue to chop down more trees, as long as there is replanting, and the forest continues to soak up as much – or more – carbon as it currently does by 2050.

Finland’s environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre) says he’s extremely pleased with the outcome of today’s European Parliament vote, and notes that the results will still be in harmony with the Paris climate agreement, while allowing effective management and use of Finnish forests.

If today’s vote is upheld next month by the Council of Ministers, “then the use of wood products can increase in Finland and industry can invest here” says Tiilikainen.

In July, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee had at first voted against Finland’s position.

However, Swedish Peoples’ Party MEP Nils Torvalds had spearheaded the efforts to get an amendment approved. Torvalds is also his party’s candidate in the 2018 Finnish Presidential election.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä expressed his pleasure at today’s vote. However, he emphasized that today’s vote was just another step in a complicated decision-making process.

Sipilä thanked Minister Tiilikainen and the Finnish MEPs who lobbied for the win today, after getting Sweden and other forest-rich EU member states onside to support Finland’s position.

“Now the same work should continue for the rest of the process” says Sipilä.

The Central Federation of Swedish Agriculture Producers SLC in Helsinki says it considers the vote a victory.

“SLC and the Swedish-speaking forest owners are pleased that today reason and justice prevailed in the European Parliament’s vote on climate regulation, where Nils Torvald’s compromise proposal was heard by the majority of parliamentarians” says Federation Chairman Holger Falck.