Green shoots not yet visible in the forestry economy

Forest companies are the chief exploiters of forest resources, and their actions may have a major impact on the global sustainable development. Russian companies have a special place in this regard as Russia is the most forested country in the world and the forest industry there has a global impact. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland asked some experts how they see the development of Russian forestry industry in the long run. They approached high-level managers from wood harvesting companies in Republic of Karelia, one of the main forest regions in the country.

The results have shown that technological, political, and economic challenges are the main concerns for the companies. Meanwhile, sustainable development and other socio-environmental issues are not considered.

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Untouched Karelian forests. Photo by Alexey Bychkov

The companies see forestry development ultimately in terms of their own business demands. The most notable concerns are inefficient wood harvesting regulations, poor road infrastructure, lack of reliable forest data, the high costs of forest machinery. However, the experts did not refer to sustainability-related aims, such as climate change mitigation, energy security and the improvement of livelihoods. Apparently, environmental and social issues either are considered to be less important than more strategic targets or are considered to be at a sufficiently high level of development.

The scholars assume that the concept of sustainability is not yet embedded in the development strategies of the Karelian forest companies. They see the problem as an effect of weak environmental policies and of poor environmental education. That is, limited knowledge and no pressure from the officials prevent the Northern businesses from turning towards a green economy. As long as the state officials give a little room for global sustainable development, the companies will treat a vital resource purely as an economic good.

Original source: Senko, S., & Pykäläinen, J. (2020). Exploring the views of forest industry companies on the long-term forestry development in Russia: A case study in Republic of Karelia. Forest Policy and Economics, 120, 102311.

Front photo: David R. Frazier/Science Source

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