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Thursday's papers: Unsustainable logging, Covid booster friction and another OL3 delay

Health experts disagree on the right number of vaccine doses at this stage of the pandemic, Ilta-Sanomat writes.

Finnish forests' ability to soak up carbon has dramatically declined as a result of excessive felling. Image: Wirestock, Inc. / Alamy/All Over Press
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Finland has been felling its forests at a record pace in recent years, according to tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)(IL).

With Russo-Finnish trade eroded and an energy crisis in full swing, the demand for domestic wood is growing at a rapid rate.

At the same time, recent research has revealed a worrying trend as a rapidly declining forest growth has hampered the ability of Finland's forests to absorb carbon dioxide, the paper writes.

Forests play a significant role in achieving Finland's climate goals by operating as a carbon sink for emissions that cannot be eliminated.

Research professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Aleksi Lehtonen, told IL he is growing increasingly pessimistic about Finland's dedication to reach the climate targets set both by the country itself and the EU.

"Achieving them would require quite massive means," Lehtonen told IL.

Iltalehti asked experts what those means could be. The paper found that Finland's options include increasing carbon sinks by exercising more control over the agriculture and forestry sectors and reducing emissions from another sector. However, if the EU target is not reached, the state could opt to buy other countries' carbon credits.

"If the government suggested radical proposals and solutions to Metsähallitus' governing guidance, or set up a massive support network, which would add carbon sinks on private land, then maybe we could reach our goals," Lehtonen said.

How many boosters and for whom?

New Covid cases have circulated across Finland and health experts are at odds about what the country should do next, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (IS) writes.

The disagreement is mostly centred around vaccination guidance from the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Some doctors find the vaccine policy too strict, while others would like to see second boosters administered more widely.

On its website (siirryt toiseen palveluun), THL recommends a second "booster dose in late autumn for all those aged 65 or over, those aged 18 or over who are in medical at-risk groups, and those aged 12 or over with severe immunodeficiency."

An expert that thinks more should be done is chief physician of infectious diseases of the Lapland Hospital District (LSHP), Markku Broas.

"I would like a re-evaluation, especially of the vaccinations of healthcare personnel. It has already been a year since most workers' last vaccination," the infectious diseases specialist told IS.

"Vaccines have been shown to be safe, and to reduce sick leave. Why can't we extend the fourth vaccination round to all healthy adults, as has been done in Sweden. Avoiding the disease would be in everyone's interest," he added.

THL chief physician Hanna Nohynek however stands behind the THL's so-called hybrid protection policy, which aims for the protection by both recovery from the virus and three doses.

"Those for whom additional doses are recommended are at serious risk of severe Covid infection. They have a medical reason for getting the vaccine," Nohynek said, adding that THL is keeping up with the latest research and is prepared to make adjustments in light of new information.

New opening date for OL3

Regular electricity production at the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant will commence on December 27, Tampere-based paper Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)writes.

The Olkiluoto 3 project had initially been due to start full power electricity production in 2009 but was besieged by an array of problems and setbacks, including faulty components, safety tests, and even a lawsuit.

The latest estimate for the plant's inauguration was 14 December. However, feedwater pump damage announced on Wednesday will delay full energy production, yet again, by a couple of weeks, according to the paper.

The facility's operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said that the damage did not pose a risk to the safety of the nuclear power plant site.

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