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Tuesday's papers: Future of Finnish forests, more speed cameras, diesel fuel defenders and a neo-Nazi Finn

Newspapers in Finland discuss the tug-of-war between the country's forest industry and environmentalists, the addition of 70 speed cameras in Helsinki, and more.

UPM paperitehdas
UPM's Kaukas paper mill is located in the eastern city of Lappeenranta. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

The country's most widely-read daily Helsingin Sanomat leads off this Tuesday with an in-depth analysis of the Finnish forest industry.

The paper contemplates the future of Finnish forests, as two sides of a debate over curbing logging become more deeply entrenched. The government collected a group of domestic researchers to study the effect of its bioeconomy drive on Finnish forests, which could see significant harvesting of the natural resource.

The group found that well-managed forests should be able to provide timber and energy for the economy without significant loss of biodiversity or carbon sink capacity. However several opposition political parties are calling for the government to withdraw its harvesting increase plans and keep the rate at its current level of 68 million cubic metres.

The paper writes that there are 2.5 billion cubic metres of timber standing in Finland's forests, with an annual growth rate of 107 million cubic metres. Annual forest harvesting at present comes in at 68 million cubic meters, but the current centre-right government's bioeconomy push seeks to increase this number to 80 million cubic metres a year until the year 2025.

Forests act as an important carbon sink in the fight against climate change, and a recent IPCC report called for considerably less forest harvesting worldwide in order to safeguard these important repositories of CO2. HS reports that in 2013-2014, the annual carbon capture of Finnish forests was 27 million tons, a number that would drop to 13.5 if the government's plan is brought to fruition.

Finland's Climate Panel wants Finland to be carbon neutral by the year 2030 already – at the latest 2045. In practice, this would mean that Finland only produces as much CO2 as its natural carbon sinks can capture. At current levels, Finland's forests bind between 30 and 60 percent of the greenhouse gases Finland produces each year.

70 new "steel police" in the capital city

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat features an article on 70 new speed cameras slated for the Helsinki area. A handy map shows where the new cameras eventually will be located, with a goal of adding 14 annually over the next few years.

Authorities say the cameras will be installed in areas with high accident rates, and which are widely considered dangerous. Streets traversed by an average of 10,000 vehicles per day or large numbers of pedestrians have also been targeted.

A bid to end taxes on diesel fuel

The Kuopio-based newspaper Savon Sanomat carries a story on a new citizens' initiative that has been set up to do away with the diesel tax.

In just one day, Monday 12 November, over 50,000 people had added their names to the updated initiative after a story on the motion was reported by the tabloid Iltalehti. The initiative now has the required number of signatories for parliamentary consideration.

The bid to do away with the diesel tax rests on recent price increases for diesel fuel. According to the couple that started the initiative, the price of diesel is already on par with the price of 95 octane petrol, and so an extra tax is unnecessarily punitive.

Finnish neo-Nazi imprisoned in Britain

The Lahti-based Etelä-Suomen Sanomat runs a story on a 34-year-old Finnish man who has received an eight-year prison sentence in the UK for far-right extremism. ESS says the man received his sentence already in March, but it and linked proceedings were only made public now.

The Finnish national, who had served in the British army in Afghanistan, was convicted of being a member of the neo-Nazi group National Action, which was banned in 2016 in Britain. The man was a recruiter for the organisation and a key part of its strategy to expand its membership within the armed forces.

The Guardian reports that the man confessed that he was a racist and hoped to establish an all-white stronghold in the Welsh village that he lived in to prepare for what he called the coming "race war".

The paper reports that a British police search of his home found a photograph of the father-of-three giving a Nazi-style salute at a 1917 memorial to Finland’s independence, along with weapons and swastika bunting.

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