What is the European forest sector going to look like in 2040?

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EFI and the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (Etla) organized the first FutureForest2040 workshop in December. 16 professionals from different areas of expertise gathered in Helsinki for a half-day workshop to create pathways to the year 2040.  Three different scenarios were drafted. They started by reflecting what the global circumstances in twenty years could be. Similar issues were raised in all scenarios: climate change will cause global migrations, loss of biodiversity and resource scarcity. However, technology plays an important role and clean energy solutions might have replaced fossil alternatives by 2040. Moreover, China has increased its importance in the global economy and policy-making. Ensuring the sufficiency of clean water and food has become a global agenda. Excessive consumption has been limited with global restrictions and by including externalities in product prices.

What does this mean to the European forest sector? Most importantly, the overall need for forest biomass will most likely increase. Wood is needed to replace non-renewable alternatives in production and to offer more sustainable solutions in e.g. construction. However, the energy use of forest biomass will decrease as wood is needed elsewhere. European waste legislation will be stricter and the cascading use of wood will be a priority: wood should be used multiple times before burning it for energy. Despite the decrease in the energy use of forest biomass, forest owners will benefit as the total value of wood increases.

Aim in the upcoming stages of the FutureForest2040 project is to determine what all this means in terms of educational needs and economic impacts. What are the skills that professionals in 2040 will need? What will happen to the European and Finnish forest sector when it comes to digitalization, employment, and work force availability? Follow the project on Twitter @FForest2040 to know more!

FutureForest2040 is a project of EFI and the Etla, funded by Metsämiesten Säätiö Foundation, that started in October 2019. The aim of this 3-year project is to create roadmaps to the future of the forest sector and related products and services. Alternative future scenarios are being created and the impacts of forthcoming changes assessed. The focus is on analyzing how the changes in the forest sector will affect the Finnish economy as well as on forecasting future educational needs.

Watch EFI researcher Janni Kunttu and Etla researcher Martti Kulvik talk about the results of the project in summer 2020. The video is in Finnish with English subtitles.


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