Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What's TAMK got to do with Russian timber duties?



Picture: Prime ministers Putin and Vanhanen and minister Pekkarinen opening the summit

Almost 400 people were present in the third Russian-Finnish forestry summit in St. Petersburg, Russia last Sunday, 25th October. The Finnish delegation consisted of 140 invited directors, managers, researchers and experts from all forestry branches. TAMK was one of the three Finnish higher education institutions present in the summit and the only Finnish university of applied sciences who participated, represented by Aura Loikkanen and Ari Vanamo.

The summit concentrated on actual problems of forestry co-operation between Finland and Russia. Both countries had put a high priority on the meeting. The prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin opened the seminar and also the Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen gave his speech. Altogether five Finnish ministers were present in the summit.

The main problem between Finnish-Russian forestry co-operation has for some year now been the export duties on timber which have strongly affected forest industry in Finland but maybe even more logging operations and employment on the Russian side. According to the original plan the duties on birch pulpwood would have been at least 50 €/m3 from 1st January 2010, but Russia has now twice postponed the decision. Some of the Finnish big forest industry companies have however already reacted and withdrawn their operations from Russia almost completely.

But the timber duties are hopefully just a minor exception in the forestry co-operation between Russia and Finland. The fact remains that Russia has the world´s largest forest resources, about 40 times the amount of Finland´s. The need for the development of forestry sector is great and Finnish know-how in forestry is wanted in many areas. In the summit Finnish and Russian delegations agreed on the further development of both economic and scientific-technical co-operation. It will include for example research on forestry legislation, development and application of bioenergy technologies, creating new forest industry products e.g. by using nanotechnology, basic and further training of forestry researchers, engineers and workers.

So what did TAMK get out of the summit? The forestry degree programme of TAMK, partly together with TAOKK, has for over 5 years been involved in forestry training co-operation in Russia. The projects have been financed by EU and lately by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. These projects were actually the reason why TAMK was invited to St. Petersburg on Sunday. The summit offered the chance for TAMK to see and to be seen. New contacts were formed and old ones refreshed. We´re quite sure that also in the future there will be a need for TAMK´s services in Russian forestry sector,

Ari Vanamo

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