For youth living in cities, where their surroundings consist largely of brick landscapes, visualizing careers in forestry can pose a rather steep challenge. So how, if at all, does forestry appear in a high schooler’s life today? Pihla Pekkarinen, a seventeen-year-old high school student from Rome, Italy, worked as an intern at Indufor during the month of July this year. In this blog post she reveals how the forest industry incorporates itself into her and her peers’ life.
Most metropolitan high schools, at least from my personal experience, do not generally nurture forestry clubs or tree-planting societies. However, climate change is a hot topic in schools attempting to create mindful graduates. For many schools, including my own, increasing student awareness of current global challenges is a priority. My school wants to create students who are innovative, and have the tools and knowledge to deal with challenges posed by the 21st century in new ways. Along with world hunger and poverty, climate change and sustainability are the largest areas of focus of this nature. At my school, clubs like Students United for Nature (SUN), the Gardening Club, and the Environmental Team focus on sustainability from the inside out. They work to reduce the school’s own carbon footprint by eliminating plastic water bottles and replacing paper towels in bathrooms with AirBlade hand dryers. Outside the school grounds, they lead student park clean-ups and participate in protests calling their government to fight climate change.
But the role of forests in fighting climate change is too often overlooked. In large cities like my own, it seems more important to use single sided sheets to print anti-pollution flyers than to concern ourselves with printing double-sided. However, according to the “Metsä Puhuu” (The Forest Speaks) venture, the forestry industry in Finland alone needs 3,500 new workers out of the 60,000 graduates in each 9th grade class to fulfil the employment needs. Organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, are taking action all over the world to gather interest in the forestry sector. Projects like One Tree Per Child in Australia, encourage tree-planting in primary and secondary schools, having each child plant and subsequently care for a tree and through it learn about the environment and their own impact on it. The Guides and Scouts of Finland collaborated with UPM to produce an app, MobiMetsä, targeted towards older children of ages 12-15 and intended to increase awareness of wood production and consumption through a game in which you cultivate your own forest.
Source: Go Green Youth Challenge
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has also recognised the importance and value of input from the young people of tomorrow’s generation even before they finish their education and officially enter the industry. They included youth speakers, panels and workshops, encouraging the youth to raise their voice and take part in conservation efforts in the 2015 World Forestry Congress. In Finland, so-called Forest Ambassadors toured over 300 schools in 2015, speaking about their work in the forestry and conservation fields in an attempt to involve more young people in forestry.
My peers and I will soon be handed the reigns to, among others, the forestry industry, and we will be in charge. Fighting deforestation and working to grow a sustainable forestry industry will be up to us. And with the increasing threat of climate change and deforestation, it is more important than ever for both my generation and the ones before mine to prepare us for the world we live in, and see us not as today’s children, but rather as tomorrow’s adults.
Written by Pihla Pekkarinen