Both Finland and the EU are committed to halting deforestation and tackling the climate crisis.
This autumn, the EU is doing a lot on both objectives.
The Fit for 55 climate package sets out how to implement tougher climate targets. Measures to safeguard biodiversity will be promoted in the EU Biodiversity and Forest Strategies. The EU's sustainable finance classification system, or "taxonomy", aims to take both into account and provide investors with information on the sustainability of different investments.
The goal of bringing all human activity within the planetary boundaries is shared by the EU and my country. That is why Finland's sometimes very negative attitude to the EU's common rules on forests is puzzling.
How is it possible to be opposed to EU regulations with the aim and purpose of mitigating the climate and biodiversity crises by improving the state of Europe's forests? When Finland opposes common EU measures because we would prefer to do things a little differently ourselves, it will at worst lead to us blocking measures to improve the state of Europe's forest ecosystems as a whole.
Finland's central argument has been that the EU's competence does not cover forests, but must be decided at home. However, the EU has strong competence in environmental and climate matters. These also apply to forests.
Finland also justifies its national forest policy by calling itself a country of excellence in forestry expertise. However, the fact that the majority of forest habitats are endangered and that we are still burning wood that causes biodiversity loss and accelerates climate change does not bode well. If we have not got things right on our own, how can we trust that this will happen in other EU countries?
Key issues for climate and forests are also addressed in the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation on climate action in the land-use sector and in the Renewable Energy Directive. How much forest is felled and how much wood is burned has a direct impact on climate and biodiversity. In Finland, where there is a lot of forest and a relatively large share of the country's emissions come from peatlands drained for forestry and agricultural use, increasing carbon sinks and carbon stocks in the land use sector is a key climate action alongside emission reductions.
The problems are well known.
They will not be solved by continuing as we have done so far. Natural carbon sinks must be increased and carbon stocks safeguarded, forest management methods must be improved and new solutions for energy production must be found. These must be promoted not only at home, but also in the EU. Read what the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation has said about the Renewable Energy Directive, the LULUCF Regulation, the Forestry Strategy or the taxonomy in its previous opinions and other statements.
By Liisa Toopakka, campaigner at the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation