What happens to istutapuita.fi forests in 100 years?
We are committed to our planted forests serving as a carbon sink for at least the next hundred years, which is also the basis of the carbon absorption calculation provided by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE). We are often asked what will happen to our forests after they have been growing for one hundred years. The matter is not as clear-cut as one might think, and we are actively considering different scenarios with the istutapuita.fi team – almost a hundred years before the decision has to be made. However, one thing is certain – our principle is to promote nature and environmental values in the best possible way, relying on the best available information.
Future perspectives of bioeconomy products
When pondering the intended use of our forests in a hundred years, it is good to expand the level of thinking beyond the mere protection of forests to the potential of future timber products. The 2021 report“ “Finnish Bioeconomy on the global product market in 2035” commissioned by the Finnish Technical Research Center VTT and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) gives some indication of the innovations of timber products in the upcoming decades. If the production pressure can be shifted away from industries that strain the environment more by utilizing forests, cutting down forests may be the most ecologically reasonable solution in a hundred years. If it is environmentally advisable to cut down our trees for raw materials at the end of their life cycle, we are committed to giving any related sales proceeds directly to new afforestation projects.
Fiber products, such as packaging materials, which Finland amply produces, are heading into new uses. For example, wood-based food packaging can in the future replace plastic packaging produced from fossil materials. Furthermore, the innovations enabled by nanofibers produced from tree biomass will become considerably more common in the future. These innovations include using nanofibres in the textile sector, focusing on filterable nanomembranes, abd utilizing new types of chemical processes based on photosynthesis and optoelectronics. The popularity of building with timber will increase and the construction industry will see significant changes towards more sustainable solutions – especially in domestic apartment building construction. The use of wooden planks in construction is probably not going away in the future either, but wood will increasingly be processed into construction components suitable for different uses.
The circular economy is developing rapidly and the utilization of wood pulp for various kinds of products will grow exponentially in the future. According to research data, lignin (a by-product of pulp production) can be used in the future, to produce e.g. concrete softeners, insulation materials, compounds for water purification and fertilization, and components for batteries.
Hard coal, a raw material suitable for lithium batteries, has already been developed from lignin. According to research, hard coal is in many ways better than graphite, a common form of carbon in the soil. Thanks to hard coal, batteries will be more durable and environmentally friendly and they will charge faster. While graphite is produced synthetically as a by-product of the oil industry or extracted out of the soil in Chinese mines, hard coal is a by-product of pulp production and therefore requires no more cutting down of trees. In addition, the carbon remains stored in hard coal batteries even after the battery’s life cycle. This type of carbon can be for example buried in the ground without adverse effects. Thus, the carbon originally absorbed by trees is stored in the batteries and is not released back into the atmosphere.
Due to future innovations, the demand for bio-based products will grow exponentially e.g. for various chemical industry products, food production, agricultural products, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, and the energy industry.
Stopping nature loss by protecting forests
Finland participates in biodiversity strategies maintained by both the EU and the UN. If research indicates that the forest planted on the peatlands should be saved and not used as raw material for the bioeconomy industry, istutapuita.fi is committed to doing so. The climate policy and actions of the upcoming decades will significantly define the future of all humanity, which will certainly affect the decision about the fate of our forests at the end of their life cycle. We do not rule out the possibility of changes in our forest management principles during the forest’s life cycle, if we, for example, learn of measures that significantly promote biodiversity (which do not weaken the total carbon dioxide absorption).
We are in the process of certifying our carbon sinks with the FSC certificate, where a third party audits the responsible forest growing methods and the performance of measures to guarantee responsibility per FSC standards. More information on the deployment of the certificate is coming soon.
Do you want to find out how your company can offset its carbon dioxide emissions and participate in our carbon sink project? Send us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible or call Timo on +358 40 485 6607.