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Assessing Sustainability of Forest-based Activities in Rural Areas of the Northern Periphery 2.8 (Northern ToSIA)
Start date: May 31, 2008, End date: May 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project will investigate options for improving the sustainable use of forest resources in selected regions of the NPP area using an innovative sustainability impact assessment tool (ToSIA) and applying it in regional development and business from two perspectives: First, public bodies engaged in regional development strategies will employ the tool in a multi-stakeholder setting to explore better sustainable development scenarios in the region. Second, companies using forest resources in the NPP region will adapt the tool to their sustainability assessment routines, enabling them to improve their corporate social responsibility as a part of the whole forestry wood value chain operating in the remote conditions of the NPP region. As a result, the tool will be available for wider application in the NPP area. Achievements: The four case studies in which ToSIA was applied in: 1) The Finnish case study aimed at analysing sustainability impacts of increased use of forest resources for bioenergy. Bioenergy supply chains were compared using sustainability indicators which were selected by regional stakeholders. A small scale district heating plant showed a higher employment effect, lower cost efficiency and smaller greenhouse gas emissions compared to a medium scale district heating plant. ToSIA was applied to assess sustainability impacts of supply chain modifications in interaction with the managers of district heating plants. The multi-criteria analysis module of ToSIA was tested in a stakeholder session with the regional Forestry Council, to assess the impacts of alternative harvest levels for developing the next forest management plan. ToSIA was also used in regional strategy preparation in assessing the impacts of the targets set in the Climate and Energy Programme of North Karelia 2020. More info about the case is available at: 2) The Scottish case study in the Cairngorms National Park worked at two levels: at a forest stand level by assessing various forest management scenarios, and at a National Park level by spatially determining where woodland expansion is suitable. The case study focused on regional development and multi-functionality of forests, and on examining the impact this has on several sustainability indicators. The case study developed a linkage between a GIS-based heuristic optimization model for site suitability and ToSIA to generate spatially explicit management alternatives. The selection of scenarios and indicators concerning the case were developed and discussed with managers and planners from the Cairngorms National Park Authority and numerous regional stakeholders. Results were suggested to be included in the upcoming Cairngorm National Park Plan 2012. More info about the case is available at: 3) The Swedish case study extended the ToSIA applications to include non-forest-wood-chains. The study included both the indigenous Sami peoples reindeer husbandry chains and regional forest-wood-chains, which are not linked in their operations but take place on the same forest resource and thus influence each other. Hereby the case investigated challenges and effects of land use between forest industry and reindeer herding: Indicator data for forestry and for reindeer husbandry chains were collected, checked and discussed in meetings with Sami representatives and other stakeholders. The interest for continued communication between Sami and forest industry also after the project end was initiated. More info about the case is available at: 4) The Norwegian case study investigated how regional sustainability indicators are affected by changes in the local wood processing industry (one saw mill closed down and could possibly be replaced by a new one in the future). Furthermore, the possible impacts of increased forest protection on the local forest and tourism industry were investigated. An MSc thesis on implications of tourism in protected areas as a source of local, forest-based income was completed. More information can be found at: More information on ToSIA, all cases and the project is available on the Northern ToSIA website ( and on the ToSIA webpage ( Northern ToSIA was lead by the European Forest Institute, and case studies were implemented together with the partners Forestry Centre of North Karelia (Finland), Forest Research / Forestry Commission (Scotland), Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences SLU (Sweden) and Department of Agriculture, County Governor of Nordland (Norway). Final products: Northern ToSIA focused on sustainable use options of forest resources in the Northern periphery, and on investigating with stakeholders which impact their (potential) decisions have on forests, people working and living from them, and other (professional) groups who are not directly employed in the forest-based sector but for whom Nordic forests are a vital base of their existence. These included Samí reindeer herding corporations (siida) as well as national park authorities and nature-based tourism, but also regional authorities working on programmes translating EU regulations from the international to the local level. These impact assessments are reproducible, transparent and quantitative, based on comparing possible scenarios with a baseline (=status quo). The tool used, adapted and further developed for this was ToSIA: Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment. The case study results and the impact they had in terms of challenging creative and impact-cause-related thinking for local decision makers is the most important final product. Here is a collection of other main products from the Northern ToSIA project: ToSIA 2.0: The ToSIA tool package consists of the ToSIA Database Client used for designing case studies and the ToSIA model used to run them. The focus of improvements was in giving users more guidance in entering their case studies into the system, and running them. This included creating a guided data entry template (Wizard) that can be used for entering or updating large amounts of data for case studies. Data error tracing was improved both in the database client and the ToSIA model. The ToSIA model developed a new result allocation functionality and more customisable reports of calculation results. The ToSIA model is now also available in three language (English, Swedish and Finnish); the operational language is chosen automatically based on desktop settings. Information on accessing the improved ToSIA 2.0 can be obtained from Information package General ToSIA brochure: "ToSIA - Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment" in several languages: Brochure with results of the Finnish Case Study on "Bio-energy case study in North Karelia, Finland": Brochure with results of the Swedish Malå case study: Brochure with results of the Scottish Inshirach Case study: ToSIA – the film: An animated ToSIA film was created, so that awareness of the ToSIA tool could be spread to a more general audience using an approachable format. The 5 minute film has been consequently posted on EFI web pages and YouTube ( This visually enticing result works to motivate new users of ToSIA or for use in public presentations of the tool for interested experts new to the topic. Northern ToSIA Conference The final conference was one of the project highlights, which brought international stakeholders from policy, practice and research into the wild of Lapland to exchange experiences from within and outside the project. Vivid discussions formed around the topics of the cases and further experiences (reindeer husbandry, indigenous peoples rights, certification, tourism, mining, nature consideration, bioenergy, environmentalistic grassroot activism, forest and park management) from different national backgrounds within the Northern Periphery (Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian Lapland, Scottish Highlands) were shared freely, as well as how sustainability impact assessment – as provided by ToSIA – can be and was helpful.Products and services:Title: ToSIA 2.0 A software package and methodological approach for assessing ex-ante the impacts of changes in Forest Wood Chains on sustainability by using indicators of environmental, social, and economic sustainability and by studying how factors such as policy, management or technology development affect the sustainability of a sector or value chain. The tool helps local and regional natural resource and land use planners/managers, policy and decision makers, natural resource researchers, natural resource-use consultants, SMEs and the industry to decide which actions should or should not be taken.More information see:, http://tosia.efi.intTitle: TMUG – ToSIA Management and User Group A network, which is cooperating in virtual and physical meetings, with the aim to further streamline use, dissemination and development of ToSIA, including the exchange of experiences, ideas, latest reports, publications, material, plans and software versions of ToSIA and the ToSIA database and testing of new releases of ToSIA. Members are any party having signed or joined the ToSIA Management and User Group Memorandum of Understanding and Membership is open to organisations with an interest in ToSIA.More information see:, Stakeholder Engagement Report: ToSIA as a communication tool A paper presented at the Dubrovnik Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems on the TOSIA approach and on how this approach was used in the Northern ToSIA project to interact and engage with stakeholder and decision-makersMore information see:, CSR and Regional Development Report: “Review of sustainable impact assessment in Northern Periphery related to forests and their use” A paper which explains different approaches to assessing multiple dimensions of sustainability for policy makers and ToSIA users. It focuses especially on the more intangible social and cooperate aspects (like CSR or Social responsibility), which approaches exist and how these voluntary and other legal mechanisms work for regional development.More information see:, Information package (including general ToSIA flyer and specific case study factsheet/flyer) Communication material, including a general brochure and brochures on the case studies, to provide basic information on the ToSIA tool, how it can be used in practice and on what can be learned from the case studies for the interested public and possible end users of ToSIA.More information see:, http://tosia.efi.intTitle: ToSIA – the film A short animation film to inform about the ToSIA tool by providing some basic information on the tool and showing, by means of a lively and humorous example, how the tool can be used in practice and how it can help in making decisions that balance social, economic and ecological sustainability in Forest Wood Chains for the interested public and possible ToSIA end users.More information see:, Report on the Application of ToSIA and related Models in Scotland Report on a series of around 40 meetings and recorded semi-structured interviews which were conducted with potential end users of ToSIA and other key stakeholders across the Scottish forestry sector on how ToSIA and related models can be incorporated into existing forestry and land use decision making procedures in Scotland.More information see:, Student theses In the student thesis "Comparison Of Two Forest Bioenergy FWCs With The Tosia - Tool For Sustainability Impact Assessment" the sustainability impacts of two forestry wood chains related to utilization of forest chips in small- and medium sized district heating plants are compared with the goal to find out what kind of effect the scale of the forest chip utilization has in terms of sustainability impacts. In the student thesis "The Employment Effect of Forest Wood Chips in the Kitee Area, Assessed Using the ToSIA Tool and GIS Approaches" combining GIS methods with ToSIA is tested which allows for examining the spatial variation of sustainability impacts.More information see:, Title: Forestry and Reindeer Husbandry in Northern Sweden - The Malå case study in The Northern ToSIA Research Project.” A paper presented at the Dubrovnik Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems 2011 on the impact of forestry management changes on the utilization of the grazing land for the reindeers.More information see:, Skogsbruk med ökad hänsyn till rennäring och naturvård i norra Sverige – resultat från en case-studie som analyserats med hjälp av mjukvaran ToSIA Popular scientific report on work performed within the Northern ToSIA project.More information see:,

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  • 2007 - 2013 Northern Periphery
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