Vocational & Professional Education & Preserving Biodiversity

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Friday 7th September, Day 4

Vocational and Professional Education in Forestry in Finland (SG)

Preserving biodiversity in Forestry (JA and RS)

In the morning the group visited Tampere University of Applied Sciences where Senior Lecturer, Dr Eveliina Asikainen introduced the group to an overview of the Finnish education system.

Children attend school at seven years old and then spend nine years in basic education. At age 16, children decide whether they wish to attend upper secondary education (for three years) or vocational education (for three years). This results in the vast majority of Finnish children remaining in education, in one form or another, until the age of 19.

Dr. Eveliina Asikainen, senior lecturer at Tampere University of Applied Sciences

The upper secondary education option is the more academic of the two, consisting of a traditional Bachelors Degree in Forestry (lasting 3-6 years), potentially followed by Masters Degree and Doctoral Degree. Only two universities in Finland offer the traditional Forestry Degree – the University of Eastern Finland and University of Helsinki.

The vocational education option is less academic and more practical and consists of a Bachelors Degree in Forest Engineering (lasting 3.5-4.5 years), potentially followed by a Masters Degree. 25 Universities of Applied Sciences, including Tampere University of Applied Sciences offer the Forest Engineering Degree.

The Forest Engineering Degree curriculum from Tampere University of Applied Sciences consists of,

· Forest Sites and Ecology

· Basics of Forest Management and Harvesting

· Forest Nature and Forest Regeneration

· Wood as Raw Material for Bioeconomy

· Wood Supply

· Forests and Society

· Forest Management Planning

· Forestry Extension and Interpersonal Skills

· Forestry Business and Project Know-How

Vocational training in forestry in Finland. [Yellow. Harvester driving and Machinery Operative. Green. Producer of Forest Management Services. Courtesy of Eveliina Asikainen].

· Machinery and Logistics or Advanced Management Planning

· Management and Information Systems

In addition, students must complete practical training (30 credits), a written thesis (15 credits) and free choice studies (5 credits).

Perhaps not surprisingly, Tampere University of Applied Sciences Forest Engineering graduates are highly attractive to employers, with the majority of students employed within forestry after six months from completion of the course. (SG)

Following Eveliina’s lecture on Forestry Education in Finland Petri Keto-Tokoi presented Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Finland. It was an incredibly interesting lecture covering the spread and associated protection of Old growth forests in Fennoscandia and north west Russia and showed that even in a landscape with 70% forest cover there are still issues with the fragmentation of good habitats. Environmental protection is a relatively new concept in Finland with the ministry for environment being formed in 1982 following decades of escalating protests but as with many countries the probable driving force to actual change can be linked to the economic value of forestry being threatened when international players such as Greenpeace and the WWF stepped into boycott Finish timber.

The present government have goals set for an increase of felling activity by 25% up to 80 million m3.

Metso forest biodiversity programme 2008-2025 gives funding to encourage private owners to carry out voluntary actions to protect biodiversity. However there are on-going conflicts between conservation and budget cuts. Goals include improving the network of protected areas, increasing management and restoration of protected areas, and increasing knowledge base.

Key improvements for biodiversity in forest management include: deadwood retention; leaving a minimum of 5-10 stems / ha when felling; increasing the percentage of broadleaves; increasing prescribed burning areas; and leaving a 5m buffer strips along rivers. This is all similar to our best practice apart from the burning areas.

Further positive changes have occurred since many of the large sawmills have joined the FSC and the government has begun to incentivise protection on private land. However, Petri did seem to be a lone wolf fighting for the protection of diversity with very little help from any government department or charity. There were many parallels to the issues we face in Scotland but we are lucky to have the support of bodies such as SNH, the Woodland Trust, RSPB and Trees for Life to make our voices louder. (RS, JA)

Map showing protected (green) and unprotected (red) old growth forests in Fennoscandia.

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