Cooperation in forest bioeconomy between North Karelia and the province of Nagano in Japan was officially started on Monday 10 May 2021 in a meeting between the Regional Mayor of North Karelia, Markus Hirvonen, Director General of Forestry Department of Nagano, Eiji Ide, and City Mayor of Ina, Nagano, Takashi Shirotori.
“To start with, we are looking for inter-regional partnerships for educational and RDI operators in both North Karelia and Nagano,” says Petteri Ryhänen, project manager at Karelia University of Applied Sciences.
The province of Nagano, with approx. two million inhabitants, is the third most forested region in Japan. Almost 80% of the region’s land area is covered by forests. Nevertheless, the forest-related business and bioeconomy sectors in Nagano are still in a development phase. Therefore, Nagano can benefit from the forest expertise and knowledge of North Karelia.
“Our inter-regional cooperation can bring about innovations and technological solutions for using the abundant forest resources in Nagano and North Karelia and new ways to develop forest-related business, education, and research,” says Ryhänen. The cooperation is also expected to open new export opportunities for Finland. “We are planning a visit to a national forestry machinery fair in Hokkaido, Japan, in October 2021, together with North Karelian companies involved in the project. In connection with the trip, we can also visit Nagano and get acquainted with the region and meet our cooperation partners face-to-face,” Petteri Ryhänen says.
The cooperation initiative is spurred by an ERDF funded project (2020–2022), led by Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Also involved in the project are the Regional Council of North Karelia, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), University of Eastern Finland, Riveria Vocational Education and Training, and Business Joensuu. Finnish Forest Center and the North Karelian representative of Team Finland act as expert members.
As a result of this cooperation, North Karelia organises a webinar to introduce its forest bioeconomy to Japan. The webinar will take place on 15 December 2021.