Luke: Finland should make bold changes to subsidies for agriculture and forestry

Luke: Finland should make bold changes to subsidies for agriculture and forestry

Luke posted on Friday policy directive This requires a thorough reassessment of the support system for agriculture and forestry in order to emphasize climate goals more and to encourage agricultural companies and forest owners to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote the growth of carbon sinks.

“The climate effects of current agricultural and forestry subsidies are partly contradictory. Some subsidies promote and some weaken the achievement of climate goals,” it reads.

For example, subsidies for the forest industry are primarily designed to increase wood production – largely the care of nurseries and young forests – and do not encourage and guide forest owners to diverse climate measures and nature conservation on a sufficiently large scale. .

While about 80 percent of the direct state subsidies for the forest industry are aimed at increasing wood production and indirectly at increasing logging, for example by building forest roads, only 1-2 percent are directed at nature conservation.

“Increasing wood production and focusing on it in support policy is no longer enough. Incentives are needed to produce climate and environmental benefits that do not have a market”, Esa-Jussi ViitalaLuke’s special researcher, stated To Helsingin Sanomat on Monday.

“The system could be designed so that the subsidies are not only dependent on the loss of income of the landowners, but also on the climate benefits they produce. Such a results-based system would allow measures to be targeted in areas where they are most cost-effective,” he said. “It would make providing environmental benefits to landowners a real option alongside or instead of wood production.”

According to Päivälehti, the parliament is currently considering a new support system for forestry. It also does not present financial incentives for forest owners to maintain forest nature, even though the preservation of valuable habitats benefits society as a whole, for example by preventing the loss of biodiversity.

Luke stated in his announcement that the new system includes support for planning the management of marsh forests. However, because its conditions are partly too loose, it would allow the indirect support of potentially harmful practices such as clear-cutting and additional drainage.

Helsingin Sanomat emphasized in its report that many activities made possible by state support have been market-based and profitable even without support. The European Union has instructed member states not to direct state aid to market-based activities.

Finland has also justified its forest subsidies mainly on ecological and environmental benefits, although environmental and nature management subsidies have been a rather small part of the 25-year-old system.

The restoration of swamp forests is justified by claims that it improves the sustainability and environmental value of forest ecosystems, even though rehabilitative drainage can turn the swamp forest from a carbon sink into a major source of emissions and increase harmful emissions into water bodies.

There are about five million hectares of drained swamp forests in Finland, more than in any other European country.

Luke estimates that both the current and planned support systems for forestry – especially support for nurseries and young forests – favor forest management practices based on clear cutting. It believes that incentives are needed to move from clear-cutting to continuous cover management, especially in nutrient-rich peatlands.

“The climate challenges are the biggest specifically in bogs, because the peat contained in the soil is a huge carbon store,” Viitala told Helsingin Sanom.

“Transition to continuous cover forestry in lush peatlands would bring not only climate benefits but also benefits for waterways, according to current information.”

Luke presented three measures to promote the carbon sink of forests: delaying thinning felling in suitable areas to strengthen the vegetation; adopting practices such as raising the water table in drained swamp forests; and introduction of nature management measures in forests.

“There are not too many measures to increase carbon sinks in the short or medium term,” Viitala reminded.

According to its estimates, the delay in thinning cuttings would also support the sawmill industry and promote the production of long-lasting wood products. The proportion of wood used for energy production has increased in the 21st century and, according to Helsingin Sanomat, is currently almost 60 percent.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page




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