In memoriam: Prof. Timo Karjalainen

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We are saddened to hear of the passing of our former EFI colleague, long-term collaborator and friend Prof. Timo Karjalainen. Many of us in the EFI network and beyond were lucky to work with him and to know him personally.

Timo collaborate with us on regular basis, especially in the field of Russian-Europe co-operation, where he was instrumental in developing the Young Leadership Programme on Russian bioeconomy.

Timo was a great colleague, always inspiring and available to discuss new ideas. Our heartfelt condolences go to Timo’s family, friends and colleagues.


Below here please find his obituary written by his friends and colleagues

Professor Timo Karjalainen passed away on 13th of July 2018. Serious illness exhausted him at the age of 57.

Timo grew up in Valtimo, North Carelia where he spent his school years. After the Commercial Institute in Joensuu and  few years in banking, he continued his studies in the Faculty of Forestry and graduated in 1990. The career as a forest researcher started in the team of professor Seppo Kellomäki. His Doctoral thesis on climate change and forest carbon sequestration in 1996 was a pioneering work which has made a great contribution to the theme over the years.

Timo joined the European Forest Institute in 1997. He created in a few years a strong team of young researchers and an international network in the field of forest ecology and management. Timo and his team were instrumental in building up the reputation of the EFI as a skillful and reliable research partner. In 2003 he started in the Finnish Forest Research Institute (since 2015 Natural Resources Institute Finland Luke) and at the University of Joensuu (since 2010 University of Eastern Finland UEF) as professor of international forestry.

In 2008-2009 he was responsible for organizing the first Koli forum in North Carelia, a platform for global leaders for improving growth opportunities of bioeconomy. He also coordinated the Cross Border University program at the University of Eastern Finland.

His enthusiasm and skills concerning forests and climate made him one of the core authors of the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports in this field. For this, he was awarded for contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC. He was nominated as honorary doctor of University of Petrozavodsk in 2014 and decorated as first class knight of the order of the Lion of Finland in 2017. He also proudly presented his fundraising award from the Movember-campaign -  a soup spoon with moustache protector.

Timo was very family oriented person, traveling much around the world was not always easy for him nor his family. Timo and the family liked culture. During his trips, he often  checked the jazz clubs in the meeting town. His wife Kirsi and daughters Anna and Maria joined Timo’s professional stays in Austria, Germany and Canada for longer periods and enjoyed the culture of the foreign countries.

In wintertime, Timo liked to do cross country skiing, play rink bandy and fish with nets under the ice. Many foreign friends had an opportunity to join fishing and experience the miracle of walking on the water. In the summer, the cottage at the river near Joensuu was his favorite place.

The main characters of his personality were optimism and empathy. Even when the time was counted only in weeks and days, he did not lose his positive approach. This life attitude brought also joy for all of us, who had a privilege to know him. 

A wide range of friends and colleagues in Finland, Europe and other continents miss Timo. We have lost a loyal friend and a fine professional. We wish Kirsi, Anna and Maria and other relatives  lots of strength in dealing with this great loss.

by Risto Päivinen and Gert-Jan Nabuurs