Planting pine seedlings
 
 
 
 
 

In touch with nature

Metsä Day is Metsä Fibre’s way of familiarising customers with the origins of our products and with responsible forestry. Sustainable development is part of the company’s customer charter and integral to its everyday operations.

11/2016 TEXT: TIMO NYKÄNEN, PHOTOS: METSÄ FIBRE

​Finnish forestry is financially, ecological, socially and culturally sustainable. All of the wood used in Metsä Fibre products comes from responsibly managed forests, and its origin is always traceable. This natural, renewable raw material already satisfies the increasingly exacting requirements of a growing bioeconomy and circular economy.

Metsä Fibre gives visitors from all over the world a unique opportunity to get to know the Nordic forest, which is a completely unfamiliar environment for many.

“From a sales point of view, Metsä Day is an excellent way of explaining the unique relationship that Finnish people have with the forest by providing a memorable experience in an authentic setting. Metsä Day has replaced traditional mill visits, with their focus on technical and environmental performance. Instead, we now seek to show what modern sustainable forest management is like in practice.Besides explaining the growth of timber reserves, we also call attention to diversity of the forested environment and to the public right to roam that is uniquely recognised in Finland,” says Metsä Fibre VP Sales Mikael Lagerblom. 

Metsä Day, Finnish nature

Several events have already been arranged under the Metsä Day heading for key Metsä Fibre customers over the last year, and Lagerblom explains that the programme for these events is compiled from various modules to suit the wishes of the customer concerned. Typical topics include technical services, innovation work and logistics. Forest excursions provide an opportunity to see tree stands at various stages of growth, visit seedling nurseries or study the use of digital instruments in tree harvesting. The theme of responsibility always features prominently.

“We tell customers about our own good practices and values, and we explain that we are ready to share expertise in matters of responsibility for the benefit of customer organisations. We also provide benchmarking of best practices for promoting accountability,” Lagerblom explains.

Metsä Day sea view


Digitalisation promotes sustainable forestry

Metsä Day also conveys a message about the special features of forest ownership in Finland. Most of Finland’s forested lands are held by private landowners, and by families in most cases, with an average holding of only slightly more than 30 hectares per owner. The company sources most of its wood from about 116,000 owners of forested land in Finland who belong to the Metsäliitto Co-operative, which is the parent company of Metsä Group.

Digital technology helps to make the wood sourcing process more transparent and traceable, with new electronic services for forest owners encouraging sustainable forestry and minimising the hassle involved in managing a forest holding.

​Lagerblom explains that customers on forest excursions have been particularly impressed by the efficiency and automation standards of modern tree harvesters, and by the way in which precise harvesting data are recorded by information systems in real time.

“We have also heard customers express their appreciation for other aspects of our business, such as the 240 per cent self-sufficiency rating of the new bioproduct mill in electric power, operations that are entirely free of fossil fuels, and the fact that it takes just 40 minutes for the forests of Finland to regenerate the wood mass used every day in these processes.”

Lagerblom says that people have become much more aware in recent years of the minimised environmental impact of the pulp and paper industry, and of responsible use and regeneration of forest reserves. Metsä Group has also worked to accommodate climate change, both by investing and by improving practices, with fossil-based CO2 emissions per tonne of output falling by 34 per cent since 2009.

“It’s nice to tell customers about our renewable raw material and recyclable products, and about the work that we have done to reduce environmental impacts. This industry obviously now has a clear lead over sectors that continue to use fossil raw materials.”


HIGH ENVIRONMENTAL AND MATERIAL EFFICIENCY

Gaining material efficiency in production with electronic forestry

Continually improving environmental efficiency is a key objective of Metsä Fibre. The company’s products help to minimise environmental impacts throughout the processing chain, as they are manufactured with optimal efficiency in the use of raw materials, energy and water.

Emissions from Metsä Fibre mills satisfy the best available techniques (BAT) emission standards established by the European Commission, with controlled environmental loading when processes are operating smoothly with no malfunctions. The mills have pursued a systematic R&D programme to improve availability, as evidenced not only in manufacturing efficiency, but also in environmental performance.

The water cycle at the brand new bioproduct mill now under construction in Äänekoski will be largely enclosed, meaning that this facility will generate less wastewater than a conventional pulp mill. The wastewater treatment plant process will also have more stages, with modern treatment technology that minimises water pollution. The new bioproduct mill will also break records for self-sufficiency in energy, generating 2.4 times as much electric power as it consumes, even while burning no fossil fuel at all when the lime kiln is fired by gas generated from tree bark instead of the fossil fuel used for this purpose in a conventional facility.

Metsä Fibre is also seeking to optimise the use of pulp manufacturing side streams, reprocessing any wood-based materials not used for generating energy into fertiliser, soil conditioning and earthworking materials, or using them for landscaping or for other industrial purposes. Industrial synergies and resource-conscious use of side streams are an important part of a circular economy.

A PIONEER OF ELECTRONIC FORESTRY SERVICES

Using digital solutions in forestry

In 2014 Metsä Group introduced a forestry planning service enabling owners to view management data on their forest holdings using a smartphone app. The Metsäverkko service for members of the Metsäliitto Co-operative enables landowners to review and update their own forestry plans, seek offers and place orders for forestry services, and engage in timber trading. In summer 2015, Metsä Group became the first company in Finland to engage in online wood trade.

The smartphone app enables the user to focus on a particular logging unit and view urgent work, browse data for the unit and submit proposals for action, add personal notes, and acknowledge that work has been completed. The most recent update to the Metsäverkko service mobile app was released this autumn. The Tampere-based company Trestima Oy provides an app for Android users that can measure tree stand data by photographing the forest.

Ubiquitous electronic services are a good fit as a younger generation of forest owners emerges in Finland, with an increasing number of urban owners living at a greater distance from their holdings. Overall demand for forestry services has grown rapidly in recent years, with landowners increasingly insisting on comprehensive and trouble-free management of their holdings on a turnkey basis. This also includes forest reconditioning, which usually means tillage and planting of seedlings. Co-operating closely with forest owners and securing their commitment to comprehensive forest management lays the foundations for sustainable forestry.


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