An almost all-green landscape country. A ‘forest giant’ with over 73 percent of its territory covered by trees. Practically everything organic, from food to fuel. Farms full of grass-fed livestock. Busses powered by locally produced biofuel, wi-fi and individual power outlets for phone charging. Are we talking about year 3019? No, we just talking about Finland, the best country in the world in a comparison of human wellbeing, classified as world’s happiest country in 2018.

Helsinki, Finland’s capital was selected to host the Informal Meeting of the Agricultural ministers from EU member states to discuss the role of soil carbon sequestration as a climate action. Finland holds the current presidency of European Union and environment is its government key priority.

AgroWeb represents Albania in the EU Ministers for Agriculture meeting in Helsinki.

AgroWeb.org was selected as the only Albanian Media among 11 prestigious European media outlets such as: AFP Finland, EFE Brussels and other outlets from Greece, Poland, Romania and Balkans. These media outlets were selected based on the criteria of professionalism, reliability, accuracy and impact on readers.

First Impact – Pure carbon neutral airport? Sure!

Pure? Sure! You are at a carbon neutral airport. Did you know that Helsinki’s Airport apron busses run on renewable diesel that can cunt emissions by over 90 percent?  In fact, all Finavia airports will be carbon neutral in 2019. Each detail adds up to the Sum of Good Things.

The poster that appears as soon as you set foot into Helsinki airport. Photo: AgroWeb

This poster inscription appears as soon as you set foot into Helsinki airport. Is the undoubtedly sign that you have come to another world, the world of environmental and human care.

The Sum of Good Things is the core strategy of social responsibility of Finavia and is strongly linked to the impact of aviation in the society and environment.

Finland’s ties to environment are strong. You can get a sense of it while looking at the badges that were distributed to reporters, produced by recycled plastic.

Unusual Bio Day

As mentioned, almost everything in this country is environmentally friendly, and this is also understood when you get the journalist badge, made with recycled plastic bottles.

During the first day of the activity, reporters, including representatives of AgroWeb.org hopped on a city bus running on biofuel and visited farms, forests, environment research centres and gas stations. A very well-organsed trip with the pleasant company of Pekka VÀisÀnen, Chief specialist, communication at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland.

The first stop at Neste, the world’s leading renewable fuel producer, whose mission is “do more with less to keep the planet in shape and create a healthier planet for our children.”

Dr. Petri Lehmus, VP R&D during his presentation at Neste premises. Photo: AgroWeb

More than 80% of Neste’s raw materials for renewable diesel come from waste and residues which are then converted into a high quality fuel that displaces fossil diesel.

In 2018, Neste’s renewable fuels helped private motorists as well as professional and commercial drivers in several geographic markets to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by altogether 7.9 million tons, equaling the annual carbon footprint of 1.2 million average EU citizens

Neste’s refineries are located in Finland, Netherlands and Singapore with a renewable products production capacity of 2.9 million per year. By 2022, the total production capacity is expected to reach to 4.5 million ton per annum.

During the presentation held at Neste premises, participants were informed about the further step- the use of plastic waste as a first source for the production of fuel. The company’s target is to process annually more than one million tons of waste plastic into renewable fuel by 2030.

The AgroWeb.org reporter asked Neste representatives whether people’s awareness is a match to Neste’s mission, Dr. Petri Lehmus, VP R&D described it as one of the biggest challenges.

“This is one of the biggest challenges. We have done a lot of work to raise awareness on this topic. This fuel is less costly and people are being aware little by little that this type of fuel is the best for everybody’s health,” he said.

The next stop of the tour was in a 300-year-old dairy organic farm located in the district of Toukola. To the surprise of all, the farm was run by two young people, Aino (36 yrs.) and Michael Watthen (39 yrs.) parents of four.

Aino dhe Mikalel Wathen, Dairy Organic Farm Toukola: Photo: AgroWeb

They are the 11th generation of the family that runs the farm with 51 cows that are grass fed in the 87 hectares of green lawns. Upon this picture, there is no doubt that the farm’s livestock is fed in a healthy manner to produce a high quality milk. Each of the cows produces 903 litres of milk per annum. However, the farms collect produce from other district farmers and 40 percent of it is used for exports.

The milk was sold to Valio, one of the largest manufacturers of dairy products in Finland. Since February 2019, the livestock in the farm are not fed with soy products but only with grass.

Each generation of farmers offers something new, says Aino. This enabled the farm to grow and withstand time.

Finland has the highest consumption of milk per capita in the world with 361.kg per person per year.

An All Green Country

More than 73% of Finland’s land area is forest, which makes Finland one of the most forested countries in the world. Almost 60 percent of the forest is owned by nearly 3700 private citizens and access to all forests is free.

Forests are a vital part of the carbon cycle, both storing and releasing it. During the last decade the sink effect of Finland’s forests corresponded to 30–50 % of Finland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Finland’s forests are protected by law and its policies stipulate the planting of new seedlings for every harvested tree. Some of the reporters that were part of the trip, including AgroWeb.org provided their contribution in planting new seedlings.

Reportes planting seedlings. Photo: AgroWeb

Reporters also visited Trans Farm, the biggest world supplier of cumin seeds. The farm delivers cumin seeds to 40 countries worldwide.

Lunch time at the Knehtila Farm which was established in 1796. This farm specialises in organic agriculture and hosts no livestock. This 350-hectare agricultural farm is located only 50 km from Helsinki and implements a food production system based on energy and nutrient self-sufficiency.

Bio-gas station, Knehtila Farm. Photo: AgroWeb

This one of a kind farm aims to to produce local, organic food, using bioenergy and recycled nutrients. During the visit, reporters had the chance to visit a bio-gas station where this kind of fuel is sold at 70 cents per litre.

The first day of the tour ended with a dinner and a stop in the steam saunas in nature, a typical Finnish amazing treasure.

Soil carbon sequestration, a key solution for climate change

Soil carbon sequestration intended to reduce net greenhouse emissions in farming require funds and flexibility, EU agriculture ministers agreed at an informal meeting hosted by the Finnish Council presidency.

With around 50 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent removed from the atmosphere and stored in the topsoil of agriculture land during the photosynthesis process, carbon sequestration is considered a key measure in both climate mitigation and adaptation.

Some of the most effective carbon sinks are grasslands and permanent pastures, as well as agricultural land located on peatland and other organic soils. Good farming practices, such as crop rotation and afforestation, can also have a role in keeping farming carbon neutral.

The current Finnish presidency gathered EU farming bosses in Helsinki on Tuesday (24 September) to emphasise the role of those measures in helping to reshape the role farmers can play in addressing climate issues.

From left to right, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, the Finnish Minister for Agriculture Jari LeppÀ and Janne Impiö, Director of Communications at Finnish Ministry for Agriculture. Photo credits: AgroWeb

“Our intention is to bring Europe at the forefront of our fight against climate change,” said Finnish Agriculture Minister Jari LeppĂ€, unveiling Finland’s hope to increase awareness on carbon sequestration and encouraging member states to take concrete steps in this direction.

Ministers discussed how to best support carbon capture through the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with the aim of bringing forward this tool as one of the best ways of decreasing emissions.

During the press conference in the aftermath of the meeting, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, and the Finnish Minister for Agriculture Jari LeppÀ said that EU ministers agreed that measures to improve the sustainability of farms require sufficient funds and necessary stimulus.

Commissioner Hogan underlined the importance of finding the right tools for every EU region to accomplish the mission of fighting climate changes.

Technology all the way

For the first time, ministers and other people in the room were asked to share their views through the mobile application menti.com by replying to questions on carbon sequestration and climate change.

For its advanced technology, a haven of forests country, climate, pure air, organic food, steam saunas in nature and also the famous 100 years old Fazer chocolate, Finland stands for sure a dream paradise. /AgroWeb.org