Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector
Initiation of a new strategic programme for the forest sector by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy forms part of the Government Programme of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen’s cabinet. The Programme’s key objective is to launch and implement change processes promoting forest sector competitiveness and renewal.
The second main objective is to monitor and predict changes in the sector, while coordinating proactive measures to secure operations. The third is to coordinate measures extending across various administrative and other sectors.
The new programme builds on the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector, launched in the previous government’s term of office. Jan Vapaavuori, Minister of Economic Affairs, is in charge of the new programme. The programme, launched in October 2011, will end in 2015. As defined in the Government Programme, a national wood construction programme will be implemented, and wood construction within the EU promoted, as part of the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector.
The forest sector is still extremely important to Finland. Almost 200,000 people are employed by the forest cluster as a whole and the value of forest industry production totals approximately EUR 20 billion a year, with forest industry products accounting for around one fifth of the total value of Finland’s exports. In addition, the sector produces roughly 70 per cent of renewable energy in Finland.
The forest sector is experiencing large-scale structural change, affecting all operators and organisations. While the efficiency of the sector’s operations is being enhanced, a renewal of the sector is also ongoing. Such structural change is progressing, but its success requires long-term investment by central government. Placed under the remit of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and implemented under the leadership of the Minister of Economic Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, the strategic programme is regarded as an excellent tool for organising development efforts across various administrative and other sectors.
Bioeconomy, based on renewable natural resources, holds huge potential for the forest sector. In the next few years, the most significant forest sector growth potential lies in bioenergy and biofuels, alongside wood products and wood construction. Research and product development are opening up a wide range of possibilities for refining forest and wood into highly valuable end products and services, such as pharmaceutical products, food additives, various nanofibre products, and recreation and welfare services.
The Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector is being implemented as a four-year strategic programme of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The programme’s strong status and excellent prerequisites for success are ensured by the fact that it is directly under the leadership of the Minister of Economic Affairs, steered by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, and receives intense support from senior ministry officials.