Antti Sahi, the recently elected President of IFFA, moderated the panel discussion including four speakers from Sweden, Finland, Nepal and Kenya. Ellen Alfsen, and Communication and Public Affairs Director at The Norwegian Forest Owners’ Federation (CEPF Member), presented what measures were and will be implemented in Norway to support the forest owners facing challenges due to the pandemic. She stressed the key role of forest owner organisations as an important source of information on the situation in the forest sector during the pandemic. Norwegian forest sector was able to handle the crisis quite well as it was not hit as hard as other sectors but better preparation for a crisis with more severe consequences is needed, she stated. As an example, she mentioned the bark beetle, which is not yet widespread in Norway but as the pest occurs further north each year, Norway should be prepared to tackle the crisis lying ahead.
In Finland it was witnessed how forests became even more important for the public during the Covid-19 and there were even rush hours in the national parks, Satu-Marja Tenhiälä, Policy Adviser in Global Forest Policies at The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (CEPF Member), said. Ms Tenhiälä reported about the effect of the pandemic to the Finnish forest sector and said that until today the crisis has not created a large negative effect for forests producers and family forest owners. However, the pandemic has continued the low market situation of the sector, but the consequences will be seen in the future. On the EU level, forests should be seen as a solution to support the revival of the European economy, she stated and added that sustainable forest management is a good risk management tool to prevent the more frequently appearing forest calamities. She ended by echoing the need for better preparation for future crises and pointed out that a stable political situation regarding to forests would help the future preparations.
After the panel discussion, Juha Hakkarainen, Forest Director at The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, highlighted in his comment that sustainable forest management is the key in reaching the EU Green Deal objectives. He regretted that currently, in the EU the role of forests is strongly seen from the environmental perspective and the economic and social aspects are forgotten. As a solution Mr Hakkarainen presented the recognition of all elements of sustainable forest management and strengthening the role of bioeconomy. He also called for better presenting the possibilities of circular bioeconomy in displacing the fossil-based economy and stressed that sustainable forestry is not a problem but a solution.
Please find the recording of the seminar here (IFFA panel starts at 2:53:08).