“Metsän puolella” initiative


Kone Foundation’s new initiative, “Metsän puolella”, to diversify discussions on forests – with millions of euros in funding for projects focusing on forest issues

The forest is full of intersecting sounds, paths and layers. However, not all meanings of the forest have come up in public debate. Kone Foundation’s Metsän puolella (“In the Woods”) brings together researchers, artists, journalists and activists working with forests. The aim is to grant approximately four million euros of funding this year to projects selected through an open call for applications, and the amount will possibly be doubled for the coming years. 

Forests are the most important natural habitat in Finland, home to non-human species, a carbon sink and storage, a catchment area for waterways, a raw material source for the forest industry, a source of income for regional vitality and citizens, a treasure trove of berries and mushrooms, a place of silence and recreation, a source of artistic inspiration and the foundation of Finnish culture and mental landscape.

The public debate in society on forests emphasises the significance of forest use for the economy and employment and, on the other hand, the role of forests in solving climate change and biodiversity loss. However, not all meanings have come up in the discussion to the extent they deserve. In Finland, a lot is known about forests, wood, carbon sinks and the state of nature in forests, but these are discussed mostly on the basis of images, gut feeling and even false beliefs. The forest debate in Finland requires an upgrade to the next level.

Metsän puolella will finance bold, insightful, in-depth projects on a wide scale of forest-related topics. The aim is to increase multi-voiced public debate in society on the multiple meanings of forests, and to highlight voices that have not been heard in discussion about forests.

“Forests are much more than euros and carbon dioxide equivalents. They are a matter of life and death for future prosperity. The many ways in which forests are meaningful for human well-being and health, as well as for non-human species, for whom the forest is home, should be taken into consideration more in social debate and decision-making. Kone Foundation’s significant financial investment provides a great opportunity to strengthen understanding of the many meanings of forests through science, art, activism and journalism,” says Mari Pantsar, director of the Metsän puolella network.

The actors to be funded will be part of the Metsän puolella community, which will increase cohesion, broaden thinking and support the social impact of the actors. Community activities will be planned along with the selection of the projects to be funded, and according to the needs arising in the projects.

“We will start building a community on a long-term basis for the voices that are not heard enough in forest debate. Funding can be applied for projects lasting up to four years, and the continuous application process will be open for several years. Our goal is to introduce new dimensions to societal decision-making this way,” says Pantsar.

What kind of projects will receive funding in the initiative?

The projects to receive funding may be related to, for example, the relationship of Finns with forests, forest myths, the discussion in Finland about forests and the related vocabulary, the exercise of power related to forests, advocacy and democracy, the independence of research and the arts and the right to speak up, right of public access and property protection, future forests, forestry and forest activism, or even the connection between forests, the soil, marshlands and waterways and their significance for biodiversity and climate. The possible topics have not been precisely defined.

The projects should preferably include multidisciplinary research, art, journalism and activism in different combinations, or focus in-depth on one discipline.

All projects must be connected with science or art. The Foundation encourages applicants to engage in multidisciplinary cooperation above all. All project participants will become part of the Metsän puolella community.

How to apply for funding?

The open call for applications is continuous and will remain so for several years. This means that an application can be submitted for evaluation when the applicant considers it to be ready for that.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors selects, three times per year, the projects to be funded. The first decisions on funding will be made in August 2023.

Applications for funding can be submitted through Kone Foundation’s online application service.

See more detailed instructions for how to apply

Further information:

Mari Pantsar
Director of Kone Foundation’s Metsän puolella initiative
+358 50 382 0755