Ohisalo: the government will find out whether agricultural producers will be made to pay for field clearing


Environment and Climate Minister Maria Ohisalo (green) says that a law is being prepared according to which, for example, clearing of forests for fields should be paid for. The purpose is to prevent [email protected] 16.7.2022 at 13:17

Ohisalo: the board will find out whether agricultural producers will be made to pay for field clearing

  • According to preliminary data, the carbon sink of forests collapsed last year. That is why, according to Ohisalo, the government has agreed on additional measures.
  • As one way, the ministries are starting to prepare a payment for forest clearing.
  • Finland may receive a billion bill from the EU if the sink targets are not met.
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    Environment and Climate Minister Maria Ohisalo (green) says that additional measures have been decided in connection with the government's new climate plan as a result of the fact that the carbon sink of Finland's forests seems to have decreased significantly.


A week ago, the government published the climate plan for the land use sector, nicknamed “misu”, which outlines climate measures for land use. The plan's means aim to increase Finland's carbon sink, i.e. the sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, by three million tons.

Ohisalo started as environment and climate minister in early June after returning from parental leave. Just before this, Statistics Finland had published preliminary data on emissions for 2021: according to calculations, the carbon sink of Finland's forests had collapsed. The growth of carbon sinks in forests is an essential part of Finland's climate goals.

According to Ohisalo, in the final stages of the preparation of the climate plan for the land use sector, an even faster and broader goal than the draft version was added to his wish that a fee be set for the clearing of forests.

– It is a concrete action. Every time a forest is cleared, either for construction or arable land, deforestation is caused. There will now be a fee for this, Ohisalo says.

Ohisalo: the government will find out whether agricultural producers will be made to pay for field clearing

Iltalehti met Maria Ohisalo in Pori at the Suomi-arena this week. Photo: Henri Kärkkäinen

Exploration of the collapse of the coal sink

It was originally agreed in the government program that the clearing of forests for construction would be curbed by introducing a land use change fee. Now the clearing of forests for fields is also included in the scope of the payment. The law could enter into force in 2023.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment are preparing a payment model, and the bill will be submitted to the opinion round next spring. So the sitting government does not yet have time to issue the actual bill, but it remains for the next government to decide.

How much could the land use change fee increase expenses for those who clear the forest for fields or construction? Ohisalo does not estimate the amounts, but says that we will first see what is revealed in the report of the working group.

In addition, the government agreed in connection with the “misu” that we will find out what the latest emission calculations are about: did the carbon sink of forests really collapse last year, or are the figures more accurate from quick advance data – and what is the cause of the possible collapse.

– I like really worrying about the preliminary information we received. That's why during the fall I want to get more information about what's behind it, Ohisalo says.

When the report is received by the end of the year, the government's working group will review the climate measures of the land use sector again.

< p class="paragraph">In connection with the climate plan, the government also agreed that the goal of the future forest strategy will be to maintain and increase the carbon sink and to promote the climate act's sink and emission targets and the EU's land use sector obligations. The government also agreed that the appropriations for the management of forest nature will be more than doubled, to 17.5 million euros.

The reason is the Forest Act?

At the end of May, after the publication of the carbon sink statistics, the Natural Resources Center (Luke) reported preliminary estimates as to why the carbon sink of forests has decreased. Among other things, Luke presented that more and larger trees have been removed in the thinnings than before, wind and snow damage may have caused greater thinning needs, and the time of felling has come earlier, when younger trees are felled.

Ohisalo points out , that the government has now also agreed that the forest law that entered into force in 2014 will be reviewed.

– We don't have a very accurate picture of how the law currently guides logging. The law is now being evaluated from a climate perspective.

– If it seems that the law is leading in the wrong way, even to too extensive logging at too early a stage, the next government will certainly have to open the law, says Ohisalo.

When asked if felling should be limited in Finland, Ohisalo answers that the situation in the forests now needs to be clarified first.

The chairperson of the Greens, Maria Ohisalo, returned from parental leave and took over the portfolio of the Minister of Environment and Climate at the beginning of June. Previously, he was the government's minister of the interior. Photo: Henri Kärkkäinen

Billion dollar bill at risk

The collapse of the carbon sink of Finland's forests was not a complete surprise to the experts closely following the situation. When Statistics Finland published the preliminary data at the end of May, the Ministry of the Environment told Iltalehti that there had been hints about the reduction of the carbon sink.

Finland's goal of being carbon neutral in 2035 is no longer just the goal of the current government, but is written into the new climate act. Therefore, the next government must also commit to the goal.

The climate panel quickly announced after the carbon sink figures came out that the entire Finnish carbon neutrality goal is in danger. Ohisalo says that the Climate Panel must be listened to, and he has discussed the situation with the government's climate and energy policy working group, the panel's chairman, professor Markku Ollikainenwith.

Ohisalo points out that reducing the carbon sink is a broader issue than climate goals, even a national economic one. The climate panel has estimated that the EU could face a decline in the billions.

According to the panel, in light of the emission figures and current measures, Finland will not reach the net sink target for the land use sector set by the EU for the 2020s. Costs arise if you have to buy a replacement amount of sink units from the EU's internal market or take more expensive emission reduction measures elsewhere.

Last year, industrial wood was felled the second most in the history of measurement June 2, 2022 9:50 am Parliament approved the climate act – Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 May 25, 2022 9:54 pm Analysis: A huge surprise from the forest statistics – the government cannot ignore this 5/6/2022 7:30 Ohisalo demands that all old and natural forests be protected: “We cannot settle for less” 7/6/2022 3:43 PM The carbon sink of forests collapsed in a year – this is what it means 27/5/2022 5:02


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