|Future Forum on Forests – a foresight initiative to study the future of forest sector in Finland
Brochure of the Future Forum on Forests (PDF)
The Future Forum on Forests of Finland is a multisectoral and multidisciplinary work aiming to provide information on the issues affecting the forest-based livelihoods in the future. The multidisciplinary approach - a feature that is emphasised in the second phase of the Forum starting in April 2005 - is fundamental for finding innovative ideas for the evolving forest-based livelihoods.
The purpose of the Forum is to identify and analyse expected changes in the forest sector environment in the next 10-20 years. By exploring the developments affecting livelihoods in the forest sector, the Forum aims to:
The Forum focuses on forest sector and forest-based livelihoods. The “forest sector” in this context can be defined broadly as including forestry, the forest industry as well as other existing or future livelihoods that are based on the use of forest resources.
- support the development of the national forest policy and other policies relevant to the future of the forest sector; and
- offer new stimuli, material and tools for the strategy work in different forest sector organisations.
Four pillars of activities
The basic pillar of the Forum is the foresight network formed of Finnish experts from different disciplines who are connected to the international development of science and technology. The foresight network will focus on the factors affecting the future of forest sector and its livelihood. They include the analyses of the future business opportunities in different forest-based value chains, the analyses of future development of globalisation and collection of weak signals of changes affecting the forest sector
The second pillar is the group of detached studies that the Forum can have made in different organisations on relevant issues of policies or strategic decision making. The topics of the studies include the policy means to support labour availability, primary success factors of the Finnish forest sector in the future, the policy means to improve the availability of wood to the markets, the possibilities of energy businesses based on forestry and forest industry.
Modern foresight includes a wide spectrum of methods to analyse long-term changes and developments. The methods applied are scenario techniques, delphi-analysis, the analysis of weak signals, trend extrapolation, expert opinions and systems analysis.
The third pillar is a series of seminars focusing on central issues affecting the forest sector in the future. These “future seminars” are the principal meeting point for those interested in trends and views on the development of the forest sector in the future. In the second phase of the forum, specific thematic seminars will be organised in addition to the large “future seminars”.
The fourth pillar is the Internet service - or the so-called home base for future information in the forest sector - that has been opened at: www.metsafoorumi.fi. In addition to the activities and results of the Forum, the pages will also offer information on other future studies and events. The Forum Newsletter will be published in this Internet service four times a year in Finnish and in English.
Implemented by the University of
The Future Forum on Forests is implemented by the University of Joensuu (http://www.joensuu.fi/englishindex.html). The Forum is led by the University Rector Perttu Vartiainen (chairman of the implementation team), and Prof. Paavo Pelkonen (vice-chairman). The other members of the implementation team are Lecturer Jakob Donner-Amnell (University of Joensuu), Senior Consultant Heikki Hassi (SciTech Service Oy Ltd), Research Director Mikael Hildén (Finnish Environment Centre), Senior Researcher Seppo Kangaspunta (Ministry of Trade and Industry), Research Director Leena Paavilainen (Finnish Forest Research Institute), Professor Heli Peltola (University of Joensuu) and Anssi Niskanen (Director of the Forum).
The expertise of the implementation team will be supplemented by the group of invited experts from different stakeholder groups. The task of the supplementary expert group is to comment and build the content of the futures studies and futures seminars, as well as to suggest new ideas for the detached studies.
The Forum is guided by the steering group of nine members appointed by the financier of the work, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland.
The Forum work started in April 2003 and it will end in March 2008.
Future in National Forest Programme
Finland has stepped into the future in National Forest Policy (NFP) planning. The Forestry Council of Finland has used futures studies in outlining a strategic background document for updating the current NFP until 2015. The aim of the document is to make forest-related policies more proactive and future oriented.
Interest in the futures analyses has grown rapidly in forest policies and forest organisations in Finland . With futures analyses the forest sector is preparing for structural changes facing the sector in the future.