Productivity Tour participants Bud Stone, Jim Hoolihan, Abel Ponce de Leon, Stefan Bergmann and Jim Bowyer at the Metla Institute, Joensuu, Finland

Productivity Tour participants Bud Stone, Jim Hoolihan, Abel Ponce de Leon, Stefan Bergmann and Jim Bowyer at the Metla Institute, Joensuu, Finland

Productivity Tour staffer Allison Rajala sends along this post after one very long and content-rich day that started in Finland and ended in Sweden.

We were warned from Day One that Thursday would be intense — and it was!

It began at dawn with a traditional Finnish breakfast of bread, cheese, porridge and coffee at the Mekrijarvi Research Station. Just like the University of Joensuu students and researchers stationed there, the night before we enjoyed a late night of traditional “smoke” saunas, very cold swims and swapping stories in the dorms, reminiscent of younger days.

Despite a drizzly day, typical for October in Finland, UPM’s Finnish foresters generously escorted our hardy band through the deep woods of eastern Finland. Among our stops, we observed new technology developed by UPM field staff to clear brush around four-year-old planted spruce, how they thin to improve genetics and maximize value, and how they are researching the emerging practice of harvesting stumps–quite different from Minnesota and generating quite a buzz.

Policy researcher and sociologist for the Finnish Environment Institute, Dr. Taru Peltola, helped us to experience forest community life. She introduced us to the staff of a local district heating facility–typical for rural Finland. These small, distributed heating facilities convert woody debris and roundwood to energy and symbolize the value of thriving forests to the rural landscape. Biomass energy is alive and well in Karjelia.

Metla Institute in Joensuu was quite a place. Their top researchers shared breaking news surrounding global warming, the effects of Russian tariffs, wood technology and much more. One of the finest forest research institutions in the world, Metla also is home to one of the world’s most beautiful examples of architecture utilizing local wood resources.

Two bus rides and two airplane rides later, we arrived safely at midnight in Stockholm’s historic old town for some much needed sleep after an 18-hour day. Wow!

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