Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finland Lived From The Forest

As I was cycling today to the office, my phone beeped:"Check when you get in to work...ugly day for finnish paper!" I sort of knew what was happening. During the last years the only news related to Finland´s pre-Nokia core business have been closures and strikes. But today´s news was in its own league: both Stora Enso and UPM are closing down several units leaving over 2.000 people unemployed.

But the tragedy does not end here. When an IT-company fires people in the capital region, the employees have still a big sea for job-hunting. But when an industry such as paper and carton closes down a unit, they by and large close down a town. In towns like Kainuu, Valkeakoski and Imatra more or less the whole community is linked to the unit. What starts with the factory workers, will be soon knocking on the doors of shop keepers, sub contractors and truck drivers. Social workers have a busy time ahead.

The most grotesque side of things is how capitalism works in these situations. The stocks bounce up in record-breaking numbers and the analysts congratulate the management for their boldness. For the paper worker with a big mortgage in Imatra it must be like kicking the one already down.

1 comment:

TH said...

Finland can still live from its forests - there's no need to hack them to pieces and boil into pulp, however.

The "summer cottage industry" is perhaps too natural for us to see how special it is. Also, the kinds of ideals of primitive, hassle-free low-tech living and self-sufficiency we like to associate with it aren't so important to foreign guests, for instance, or even the newer generations of cottage-goers. They are more likely to pay for services that go with the cottage, providing opportunities for rural communities. But most importantly, they are looking for clean environment and "true nature", and huge patches of mowed-down forest aren't what they are after.

We are very far away from being able to replace forestry, paper making and sawmill-industries with (sustainable) nature tourism, but it seems that that's where the potential lies.

These aren't always mutually exclusive options, of course, but recent examples from Muonio for instance show that tourism industry is more and more vocal in their opposition against the thus far standard views of how to use our most important natural resource.