On a global scale, clear-cutting of forests has resulted in the extinction of hundreds of tree species. In Finland, more than 140,000 hectares of forest are clear-cut every year and the negative spill-off effects on the environment are far-reaching.
According to a new survey by the World Wildlife Life Fund for Nature (WWF), close to 77 percent of Finns favour legally restricting clear-cutting in areas where it causes the greatest environmental damage.
The survey, carried out by pollster Kantar TNS for WWF, polled 1,000 people living in Finland. Among the questions asked was whether clear-cutting should be restricted by law in areas where it most gravely impacts the environment, such as groves, peat lands, and on the shores of waterways.
Close to 77 percent of survey respondents said that they wanted to limit clear-cutting, while 12 percent of survey respondents said they didn’t see any need for restrictions.
Changes to forestry laws needed
"Clear-cutting impoverishes Finnish nature, causes waterway eutrophication and hampers climate change mitigation," says WWF Finland's leading forest expert, Panu Kunttu.
During the current government formation talks, the future of Finland’s forests will be mapped out.
"The will of the people regarding limiting clear-cutting should appear in government negotiations and be written into the new government's agenda by changing the Forest Act," says Kunttu.
Finns want to increase nature conservation funding
WWF also asked respondents whether funding for nature conservation should be increased in order to halt the impoverishment of nature. Fifty-seven percent of respondents supported increasing funding, while only one in five opposed it.
"The previous government significantly cut funding earmarked for the creation of nature reserves,” says Kunttu. "Currently less than 30 million euros a year is being allocated, whereas more than three billion euros goes to support environmentally harmful subsidies," he adds.
Kunttu believes that funding nature conservation should be multiplied so that the degradation of nature can be stopped in Finland.
"From the point of view of safeguarding nature, it is important that more protected areas be allocated in Finland. The next government must correct the mistakes of the previous one and earmark at least 100 million euros annually for the establishment of protected areas," he argues.