Many people pin their hopes on forests in order to save the world! Solutions are being sought to tackle the climate change, to find substitutes for non-renewable materials and fossil fuels, to develop future materials, to prevent desertification, to promote health, to provide food and to boost mental well-being.

Joensuu is Europe’s forest capital. We can offer comprehensive training and research in the branch, including international contacts. Joensuu holds the pole position in the assembly of forest harvesters for particular types of timber. Forest bioeconomy is also linked to other sectors, exemplified by Arbonaut Oy Ltd, one of the world leaders in the development of GIS solutions for forests, natural resources and terrain mapping. Iivari Mononen developed poles into an engineering product with international market success. The export efforts of Vallius Forestry Cutlink, a cleaner designed for the prevention of ground and forest fires, is making headway.

What pole position should we set our sights on next? The climate change is a mega trend, to which we undoubtedly can contribute under the umbrella of forestry. There is a need for competence, for control over the management of the whole and for an ability to see the big picture of global challenges.

Will the next export success be forest geography, a subject for which student have little interest but are required to study. Right now, there is a need for people with training in forest geography, as the question of carbon stocks is on everybody’s lips.

What about the forest inventory? The Finns have performed inventories of their forests since the 1920s. There is a body of information available on the forest reserves, the volume of the timber stock, on its growth, health and the carbon stock. Using this information, the Finns have managed to use their forests in such a manner that the forest industry has remained the pillar of the Finnish economy. Globally, similar skills and competence are lacking. Few forestry giants, operating amid plantations, master them.

In Finland, many technologically innovative companies have been content with remaining the domestic market. Often, the reason is behind the challenges that sales and marketing pose; a small company has no resources to build its own sales and marketing. Often, the race is decided on the back straight, where the resources and know-how of the company run out while it is still in the process of constructing the prototype. Business Joensuu can also contribute to such challenges.

Nothing is carved in stone. Not even the belief which asserts that a pulp mill without a paper mill next to it is doomed. The opposite has been proven to be true – independent pulp mills generate outrageous profits all while there is less need for paper mills. Enocell produces dissolving pulp, from which the Chinese process fabric. The next step could be that the Finns develop a non-toxic process whereby dissolving pulp can be processed into yarns and fabrics in Finland – preferably in Uimaharju.

The world is desperately turning to forests – and to us – for help. A journey to the market is not always the easiest one to take, but, provided that you have a good team, it may also be surprisingly easy.

Timo Tahvanainen
Development Manager at Business Joensuu