A3 Wolmar

Beliefs, facts, and practices: Towards evidence-based decision-making in the forestry sector in Finland

(Oral and Poster)

Sini Savilaakso


Polarisation of views has long been seen in the discourse around sustainability of forestry in Finland [1]. Different actors have different perspectives, and these perspectives are often supported by referencing a subset of research findings. However, if only research that supports a certain viewpoint is used, the overall picture of what is known remains incomplete, and decision-making is based on opinions and traditions. Hence, there is a need for knowledge synthesis that minimizes biases and uses all available evidence to shed light on the effects and effectiveness of different management interventions.

The Evidence-Based Forestry in Finland (EBFF) initiative was started by Metsäteho Oy in October 2017. It aims to create a basis for evidence-based decision-making through research collaboration with universities and research institutions in Finland and beyond. In the EBFF initiative the best available scientific evidence is collated and synthesised for the use of Finnish forestry stakeholders to support decision-making in questions related to sustainability of the forestry sector. To minimize bias and to ensure highest possible standards, systematic reviews and maps will be used to conduct the evidence syntheses. 

The evidence synthesis process is very stakeholder oriented from setting the research question and working together on defining the research protocol to active dissemination of the results. In the EBFF initiative initial research topics arose from discussions with the Finnish forest industry about their evidence needs related to sustainability. The topics include, for example, societal impacts of ecosystem services and wood sales, effectiveness of water protection regulations, and impacts of forest management on biodiversity and ecosystem services.  

In this presentation I will introduce the EBFF initiative and systematic reviews as a method for evidence synthesis. I will discuss how the use of systematic reviews can strengthen the role of science in decision-making, and enhance stakeholder collaboration drawing on my experience from the early stages of the EBFF initiative and from the evidence-based environmental management initiatives in other countries. I will frame the talk by using four quality principles of impact-oriented research [2]: relevance, credibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness. The EBFF initiative can help to decrease tensions around forestry related sustainability issues by building bridges between different stakeholders. It will also contribute to solving social and environmental problems by providing decision makers with robust evidence and information on knowledge gaps. With this presentation I also want to encourage more people to partake systematic reviews to fully realize their potential in decision-making relevant to environmental management.


1. Kröger, M. and Raitio, K. (2017), Forest Policy and Economics 77:6-15.

2. Belcher, B.M. et al. (2016), Research Evaluation 25:1-17