Current issue: 54(2)
In the present investigation, the problems connected to demand of firewood are dealt with by studying the fuel markets of the three biggest towns in Finland – Helsinki, Turku and Tampere as well as those of Vaasa. The purpose of the investigation was to study the firewood supply areas in two time periods, in 1933-1939 and in 1945-1947, after the Second World War.
Railway and shipping were the most important ways for transporting firewood in 1933-1939. Towards the end of the period, road transport increased especially in Turku and in Vaasa. In 1945-47 almost 90% of the firewood transported to Helsinki, 60% to Tampere and Turku, and over 50% of the firewood transpors to Vaasa were carried by rail. One factor supporting rail transport was that the tariff policy of the State Railways gave preference to firewood transports.
The supply areas increased markedly from 1933-1939 to 1945-1947. Supply of firewood near the towns in the southern, southwestern and western parts of the country was small. Also, pulp industry began to use small-sized timber in 1930s, which increased competition of the wood. Coal and coke began to replace firewood in the 30s, but their use decreased during and after the war due to supply shortage.
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Fuel shortage during and after the Second World War compelled the Government of Finland to improve the fuel supply. In 1948 the Government appointed a Committee to draft a proposal on use of domestic and imported fuels. Special attention was placed on how to develop use of peat as fuel.
In rural districts, firewood billets and waste wood accounted for 45% of fuel consumption. For other users than the rural population, coal and coke consisted 25%, industrial waste wood 11% and billets 18% of the total consumption in 1938. After the war the use of coal and coke increased and the use of billets decreased.
Due to the decreased demand of billets, their price in the towns fell lower than the production and transport costs from the most remote areas where the wood was harvested. The demand for small sized timber is important for silvicultural reasons, and wood harvesting creates jobs for the rural population, therefore, the Committee proposes that the state supports the production of billets. This could be done by improving the effectiveness of firewood loggings, and by building truck roads and railways.
Small-sized birch is used predominantly as fuel. The Committee considers the growing stock of birch to be the largest unutilized wood reserve. Supported by technological research, it may become a new raw material for sulphate cellulose industry. Use of industrial waste wood as fuel and improvement of heating equipment would improve the competitiveness of fuelwood and peat against other fuels. For the possible interruptions in imports, stocks of foreign fuels should be maintained.
The article includes a summary in English.