It was September when Zeynep Begüm Çelenk, who works as a procurement manager of the tissue paper manufacturer Aktül Kagit in Istanbul, first visited Finland a couple of years ago. Back then, she was invited to take part in a Metsä Day visit to Joutseno.
“I was prepared for cold weather, but it was quite warm and pleasant. The next time I came to Finland, though, I visited Kemi in April, and it was there that I got to see some snow and ice,” says Zeynep Begüm Çelenk with a laugh.
She found the Metsä Day visit very useful for her work.
“Responsibility issues play an increasingly big role in my work, and the message from the consumers has grown considerably stronger over the past three years. As a company, it’s increasingly important for us to know about the entire production chain of the material we use, including the forests, pulp mills and logistics.”
The Metsä Day service, aimed at Metsä Fibre’s pulp customers, was developed to pass on information. Giving customers an idea of the way in which forests are managed in Finland is important, given that even big pulp customers do not necessarily have direct contact with the origin of the material they use.
“Pulp is a key raw material in terms of our customers’ business, but many of them are not that familiar with forests and responsible forest management. The diverse nature of northern forest management does come as a surprise to many of them,” says Marko Ruottinen, Customer Service and Sustainability Manager at Metsä Fibre.
Getting familiar with the origin of the wood raw material
Ruottinen is used to responding to questions about sustainability, forest certification, mill environmental performance, carbon footprints and product safety from Metsä Fibre’s customers. The same goes for Metsä Fibre’s entire sales organisation, since several international companies in the paper industry embrace open communication about production chain sustainability.
Sustainable forest management includes ensuring the regeneration of the forest, knowing the origin of the wood and respecting the local environment. All these elements are reviewed during a Metsä Day visit. According to Ruottinen, most of Metsä Fibre’s customers ask about forest certification during the initial stages of a business deal.
More than 90 per cent of the wood used by Metsä Fibre comes from certified forests. Although the certification logos often follow a finished product right to the store shelves, the systems involved in sustainable forest management and certification can still be a new thing for the products’ manufacturers.
“The customers value the chance to get to know the forests and production units in person. Their questions about wood supply and forestry were one of the reasons why we developed the Metsä Day concept in the first place. The need for knowledge has grown enormously,” says Ruottinen.
A view to modern forest management
The customers are intrigued by a forest’s cycle. A Finnish commercial forest differs a lot from, say, South-American monoculture forests, which many customers have already visited.
“In a Finnish commercial forest, we can see trees of different ages, and a variety of felling methods, from regeneration felling to thinning. We’ve also planted seedlings. Seeing a forest from a new perspective has been exciting even for me, during the visits,” says Ruottinen.
The large number of forest owners is the special characteristic of Finnish forests
“In Turkey, forests are in the control of a few big owners. In Finland, there are a lot of owners, and everyone wants to take good care of the forests. That’s impressive,” says Zeynep Begüm Çelenk.
The Finnish everyman’s right is also a new concept for Begüm Çelenk. Even so, the most inspiring aspect of the forest visit was concrete, on-the-spot familiarisation with the expertise related to forest management.
“I was impressed by how well the forest is managed. The well-being of the trees and forests meant a great deal to the people I met. As visitors, we were looked after very well, and at the same time I saw how nature is respected in Finland,” says Zeynep Begüm Çelenk.