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Monday's papers: Failed integration, the future of clear-cut logging, and golden jackals

The press looks at whether Finland has failed to integrate immigrants, public opinion on forest clear-cutting, and the expected arrival of a new predator.

Kultasakaali heinikossa.
The golden jackal will soon arrive in Finland to stay. Image: Вых Пыхманн, CC BY-SA 3.0

This Monday in Finland, the natural world is making headlines, as overnight temperatures fell to -36.6 in Salla, Finland, the lowest point we've seen this winter. In addition, a rare super blood wolf moon was visible in the clear frigid skies to early morning risers.

In other news, the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat considers whether recent shocking events in Oulu and Helsinki are an indication that state-funded immigrant integration programmes have failed.

"Integration programmes focus on educating foreigners with regard to attitudes and values, but in many cases, it unfortunately does not start quickly enough, because asylum processing takes too long," Mia Poutanen, chief superintendent on the National Police Board, tells the tabloid.

At present, most integration programmes for incoming foreigners last 240 days and focus on learning Finnish and studying the principles of Finnish society and equality.

Employment Minister Jari Lindström commented on a parliamentary audit committee report submitted Friday that found serious shortcomings in Finland's integration efforts.

"I've heard that some integration processes take five to seven years or longer. We have to say it out loud: Finland has failed in our integration efforts," the minister told IS.

More resources and jobs are needed

Argentinean Enrique Tessieri teaches integration classes for asylum seekers and immigrants. He says Finland needs to invest more resources in the programmes and secure qualified teachers.

"Asylum seekers and immigrants are told that if they only learn Finnish, they will be able to integrate into Finnish society. This is a lie," he says.

He says that for all the lip-service devoted to integration, what is really required is assimilation.

"Integration should be a two-way street. Showing one video about Finland's values isn't enough," Tessieri tells IS.

Alireza arrived in Finland in 2015 at the age of 19 to seek asylum. He attended integration classes faithfully and learned Finnish quickly. When he was finished, however, the employment office pushed him back into continued education.

"I called one employer about getting a job, and the first question was 'Where are you from?' When I told him, he hung up," he tells IS.

He now feels that the education he received in the integration classes wasn't of much use, as finding work has been "extremely difficult". Even so, he doesn't see a connection between lapses in Finland's integration programmes and recent reports of alleged sex crimes.

"The people behind those crimes are sick. A normal person would never do anything like that to a child," he says.

Over one third would end clear-cut logging

Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, a newspaper focusing on the agriculture and forestry community, carries a story on a poll it recently carried out that suggests that 38 percent of Finnish residents would like to see clear-cutting in Finnish forests become a thing of the past.

Twenty-eight percent of the over 1,000 people polled said that this kind of logging should be banned in all forests, regardless of whether they are privately or state-owned, while nine percent would enforce the ban in state-owned forests only. Another 28 percent would not ban the practice, and 33 percent had no opinion on the matter.

A citizens' initiative to ban clear-cutting has already gathered over 60,000 signatures, in other words, enough to be debated on the parliamentary floor. Finnish logging practices have been a hot-button topic since the IPCC climate report emphasized the importance of carbon sinks last year.

The Finnish state owns about a quarter of forest land in the country, while private owners account for 60 percent of ownership. Eighty percent of raw material purchased by Finland's forest industry originates in privately-owned forests, MT reports.

New predator expected any day

And, to finish, the daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on authorities' concerns that a new predator, the golden jackal, will soon cross the border into Finland, upsetting the natural balance.

The golden jackal is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe and Asia. A warming climate has pushed it farther north and west, and Ilpo Kojola, research professor at Finland's Natural Resources Institute (Luke) tells the paper that it could arrive in Finland any day now via the Karelian Isthmus.

Kojola predicts that the golden jackal will thrive in Finland.

"As a predator, it will slot in between the fox and wolf nicely. It would have the upper hand over the foxes and the wolves would track it as prey," he tells HS.

Nature conservationists are concerned that as the population grows, the golden jackal will present a danger to Finland's ground-nesting birds. Finland is currently one of the most important European areas for water and shorebird breeding, the paper writes.

"We must follow precautionary principles with respect to the golden jackal and slow the spread of the species in order to safeguard our biodiversity and prevent widespread damage," game specialist Jarkko Nurmi tells HS.

Legislation is being proposed to crack down on invasive non-native species in Finland. The golden jackal would join the likes of the raccoon dog, the mink and muskrat on the list.

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