THE LAND USE SECTOR turned from a carbon sink into a source of emissions for the first time ever in Finland in 2021.
Statistics Finland on Wednesday reported based on its preliminary data that greenhouse gas emissions stayed roughly unchanged last year, but the carbon sink of forests contracted significantly as a result of intensive felling and the falling trend in the increment of the growing stock detected in compiling the national forest inventory.
Greenhouse gas emissions remained at the level of the previous year in 2021.
Forests are the most important reserve for mitigating climate change in Finland, highlighted Helsingin Sanomat. They sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thereby function as important carbon sinks. A substantial increase in felling, in turn, is equivalent to increasing carbon emissions.
Last year, emissions from the land use, land-use change and forestry sector exceeded for the first time the amount of carbon sequestered in different stocks – by 2.1 million tonnes of carbon equivalents. Emissions from the sector, though, have decreased by around 33 per cent since the baseline year of 1990.
The net sink of forests totalled -6.7 million tonnes of carbon equivalents.
Greenhouse gas emissions from outside the land use, land-use change and forestry sector amounted to 47.7 million tonnes of carbon equivalents, signalling a marginal drop from the previous year.
The energy sector was the largest source of emissions in Finland in 2021, accounting for 71 per cent, or 34 million tonnes, of all emissions. Emissions from the sector decreased by almost one per cent despite a six-per-cent uptick in energy consumption, a development that is mostly due to the increased use of renewable energy sources.
The sub-sectors that produced the most emissions were the energy industry, domestic transport, and construction and manufacturing.
The use of round timber surged by nine per cent year-on-year to an all-time record of 85.1 million cubic metres, 85 per cent of which was used in forest industry and 15 per cent in heat generation at heat and power plants and single-family houses, according to data from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
The surge was attributable to domestic timber use. The data reveals that the harvesting of logs for forest-industry use rose to an all-time high of 65 million cubic metres in 2021. Another 10 million cubic metres of logs was harvested for use in energy production, leaving the total at 76 million cubic metres, 10 per cent higher than in 2020.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT