Last spring, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) broke the news that in 2021, Finland’s land use sector will have, for the first time, emitted more carbon dioxide than it has sequestered. This information was confirmed in December. As Finnish forests act as a nationally significant carbon sink, forest use plays a major role in the chain of events that has resulted in this change. One reason for the weakened carbon sink is the high level of felling operations implemented in 2021.
Forests are not only an important resource in the fight to slow down climate change, but also necessary to maintain biodiversity. In the debate on climate change and how to mitigate it, parties often tend to focus on limiting carbon dioxide emissions, overlooking the importance of preserving the diversity of nature.
Weakening biodiversity will accelerate climate change, and vice versa. As nature becomes more and more depleted, ecosystems begin to release carbon instead of sequestering it into soil and plants. Biodiversity loss has a devastating effect on the climate and negatively affects public health and livelihoods. For example in 2020, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a report in which it stated that biodiversity loss and deforestation expose the world to an increased risk of a new pandemic. In its Advocacy Toolkit for Nature, the European Commission highlights the negative impacts that biodiversity loss has on sectors such as agriculture through the dramatic decrease in the number of pollinators, for example. Biodiversity loss means that we lose more and more forms of life currently inhabiting this earth. It is a question of life and death for millions of species, including human societies.
We cannot halt climate change without safeguarding biodiversity. In the UN Biodiversity Conference in December 2022, Finland committed itself to the global goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2030 and protecting 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine areas. Finland must work towards these goals and invest in putting a stop to the degradation of our forests and in the ethical use of forests. Halting biodiversity loss will give us more time to fight climate change and make it possible for us to preserve a viable and prosperous society for future generations.
Chair of the climate network of SYL