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Doctoral defence of Sergei Senko, MSc, 22 Oct 2021: Nordic forest solutions as an opportunity to reform the forestry sector in Russia

A case study in the Republic of Karelia

The doctoral dissertation in the field of Forestry will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry on the Joensuu Campus.

MSc Sergei Senko, what is the topic of your doctoral research? Why is it important to study the topic?

Russian forest resources can play a significant role in the global forest-based bioeconomy. However, Russian forestry remains orientated towards foundations that were designed in the middle of the last century and many of them are out of date and require development.

Recently, attempts to innovate Russian forestry have been closely linked to learning the Nordic experience in forestry, particularly from Finland and Sweden. Interest in Nordic forestry was stimulated by the greater productivity and profitability, achieved under very similar environmental conditions to Russia. It is believed that Nordic practices could bring several innovative solutions to the forestry development in Russia, specifically in the intensification of forest management, forest roads construction, and the utilisation of wood-based energy.

However, due to the unique institutional and operational frameworks that currently exist in the country, these solutions cannot be readily adapted for the local conditions. Transfer and implementation of the solutions require an understanding of the Russian operational environment and its systematical analysis has been the general aim of the current study.

What are the key findings or observations of your doctoral research?  What in the implementation of your research or its findings is new, valuable and interesting for the general public and/or the scientific community?

We have found that the interdependence of the solutions is an essential factor in terms of understanding further perspectives of Nordic forest solutions in Russia. The solutions are complementary; implementing one solution will intentionally entail the inclusion of targets and indicators of the other solutions. The centrepiece of the solutions is intensive forest management. To make it efficient and profitable intensive forestry needs to be complemented with a sufficiently dense forest road infrastructure and by added-value utilisation of wood-based residues derived from thinning and logging operations.

The prospects of the former in Russia are hindered by an unprepared regulatory environment regarding the prolongation of the forest leasing contracts, while the latter is stymied by a lack of sufficient economic and legislative drivers to support biofuel development in Russia. Commitment to the objectives of sustainable development is a key component of Nordic intensive forest management.

Based on unique empirical data the study has shown that in Russia there is limited room for the decisions that could incorporate sustainability-related issues as they are not of immediate interest and importance and are seldom accounted for in the strategic thinking processes of the Russian forest industry companies. This factor should be carefully considered in future forestry development in the country. Previously, such types of issues have been discussed in the literature, often only in a descriptive way.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

Wood procurement organisations having or planning operations in Russia (including those from Nordic countries) could utilise our findings as the first step in the identification of factors in their development and improvements. The key observations seek to contribute to the informational needs of policy planning and development, and also provide an opportunity for further conceptual and methodological studies. The findings can also be used in the planning and promotion of new sustainable forestry sector strategies both in Russia and globe. Russia is important in the global context since the country contains the largest stocks of forest resources, which could be used in support of a new forest-based bioeconomy and related business models.

Please describe the process of your doctoral research. For example, what are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

The empirical part of the study is based on an analysis of the situation in the Republic of Karelia, one of the main forest regions in Russia, whose territorial and resourcing indicators are commensurate with Finland and Sweden. The study builds on four interrelated articles, where a systematic and analytical approach was utilised based on the use of modern decision support applications and methods.

Specifically, articles I, II and III followed a technique that combined SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and the multi-criteria decision support (MCDS) method in an analytic hierarchy process (AHP), hereafter called the A’WOT approach. Article IV was carried out with a two-stage survey; an unstructured interview approach for the first stage and cumulative voting (CV) for the second stage. The results of the survey were summarised into a PESTE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental) framework.

The doctoral dissertation of MSc Sergei Senko, entitled Nordic forest solutions as an opportunity to reform the forestry sector in Russia: A case study in the Republic of Karelia will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry on the Joensuu campus, Futura 100, on 8 October at 12 noon. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Birger Solberg, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway, and the custos will be Professor Jouni Pykäläinen, University of Eastern Finland. The public examination will be held in English.

Photo available for download

Dissertation book online

For further information, please contact:

Sergei Senko, sergei.senko (a), tel. +358 50 430 9206