Einari Vidgrén Foun­da­tion rewar­ded fore­stry pro­fes­sio­nals

The Einari Vidgrén Foun­da­tion rewar­ded meri­ted fore­stry pro­fes­sio­nals for the 19th time at the award cere­mony held in Rien­tola in Vie­remä. The awards total­led EUR 180,000. The Einari Award, the Einari Vidgrén Foundation’s key recog­ni­tion, was gran­ted to Roger Lejeune, whose har­ves­ting com­pany CC BOIS has been in ope­ra­tion for more than 30 years. In addi­tion, recog­ni­tions were given in four dif­fe­rent cate­go­ries: life­time achie­ve­ment, special recog­ni­tion, ope­ra­tors and stu­dents.

The award cere­mony was held in Rien­tola in Vie­remä on 4 June.

The Einari Award

Roger Lejeune star­ted as a forest mac­hine cont­rac­tor in Bel­gium more than 30 years ago. He was able to use his exten­sive expe­rience and know­ledge of the forest industry in Europe: wood procu­re­ment, har­ves­ting, trans­port, sales and use, as well as dif­fe­rences in wood trade and mea­su­re­ments between dif­fe­rent count­ries.

Roger Lejeune.

At the end of 1989, a storm rava­ged forests in the ope­ra­ting area of Lejeune’s com­pany, and he hired Fin­nish and Swe­dish com­pa­nies to har­vest windth­rows. Fin­nish and Swe­dish ope­ra­tors and har­ves­ters made a big impres­sion, and Lejeune bought his first har­ves­ter at the time. This mar­ked the company’s first step to moder­nise har­ves­ting ope­ra­tions in line with Scan­di­na­vian stan­dards.

The efficiency of the cut-to-length met­hod and mec­ha­ni­sed har­ves­ting impres­sed Lejeune. Still, he also had to con­vince local forest com­pa­nies. Lejeune and one of his part­ners bought a piece of wood­land to host a demon­stra­tion. They showed that mac­hi­nes do not damage forests when a pro­fes­sio­nal ope­ra­tor is at the cont­rols.

Eco-friend­li­ness, high-qua­lity work, and accu­rate dimen­sions and quan­ti­ties have always been the strengths of Lejenue’s com­pany. Lejeune focuses on met­rics and data to keep a close eye on costs and quan­ti­ties.

Life­time Achie­ve­ment Awards

Life­time achie­ve­ment awards were given to two vete­ran cont­rac­tors who share the pas­sion for the forest mac­hine industry, still deca­des after their long careers. The high qua­lity of work and staying out­doors have been an innate part of both of their lives, star­ting already from their ear­liest log­ging sites. Life­time achie­ve­ment awards were given to Tapio Lahi­kai­nen and Ari Sil­tala.  

Tapio Lahi­kai­nen must have a magic touch. The quiet and modest forest mac­hine cont­rac­tor has been an idol for many youn­ger ones loo­king for a career. Many small boys have watc­hed Tapio wor­king in forests, many of whom have ended up as cont­rac­tors in the forest industry. 

Tapio Lahi­kai­nen was accom­pa­nied by daugh­ter Tarja Lahi­kai­nen-Kiuru (cen­ter) and Aleksi and Anni-Maria Kiuru to receive the award.

Tapio Lahi­kai­nen has been in his dream job for more than 60 years and still con­ti­nues to ope­rate a forest trac­tor today. “I was already thin­king about quit­ting, but when my daughter’s son Aleksi star­ted in this busi­ness, I deci­ded to keep going,” Tapio says.

Lahi­kai­nen star­ted his own busi­ness in 1962. His career spans so many deca­des that tall trees are already growing at his first final fel­ling sites. Now he can return to the same sites to har­vest new trees. He is also gra­te­ful for never having had to work alone. He has wor­ked with his family and with his family’s help. “You can’t do this on your own; you need the sup­port of your family.”

His wife Lahja was the stron­gest sup­por­ter of the com­pany from its ear­liest days. Tapio was able to focus on forest work, while Lahja took care of their home and the company’s finances. She pac­ked a healthy lunch for Tapio and even hel­ped in mac­hine repairs.  Tapio is gra­te­ful for the life­time achie­ve­ment award and would like to dedicate it his wife Lahja who pas­sed away last autumn. Forests have given Tapio com­fort in sor­row. Forests have room for all emo­tions.

Ari Sil­tala, whose career in the forest sec­tor spans 50 years, says that while there are now more assort­ments and nature values have become a hot­ter topic, wood is still pro­duced as before, taking nature values into account. “Nature is impor­tant, not­hing gets dama­ged on pur­pose. That’s always been the principle, and that’s why I’ve been in this industry for so long,” Sil­tala says.

Ari Sil­tala, recei­ver of Life­time Achie­ve­ment Award.

Sil­tala star­ted wor­king in forests in the 1970s, hel­ping his fat­her like farm boys used to do at the time. The first har­ves­ter came in 1989, and at best, the com­pany emplo­yed seven men. Back then, the com­pany had two har­ves­ters and one forwar­der. Cur­rently, Sil­tala is ope­ra­ting his 14th forest mac­hine for a forest mana­ge­ment associa­tion.

Ori­gi­nally, Sil­tala was sup­po­sed to become a far­mer. His home farm had 25 cows, and it see­med that they were enough to earn a living. Sil­tala had an acci­dent in his twen­ties, brea­king his left hip, and also chan­ging his aspi­ra­tions to become a forest mac­hine cont­rac­tor ins­tead of a far­mer.

“I’ve wor­ked in forests for 50 years now, and that’s the only place I want to be for as long as I can stay healthy. I’ve never been tired of going to work,” Sil­tala says.  Sil­tala still enjoys har­ves­ting. Being success­ful is not easy. Sil­tala has a Sil­tala has a word of advice for eve­ry­one drea­ming of a forest mac­hine career: “If the forest industry is your thing, you need to cut the log to earn a living.”

Special Recog­ni­tion Awards

The foun­da­tion issues annual special recog­ni­tion awards to people invol­ved in mec­ha­ni­sed har­ves­ting research and deve­lop­ment, industry educa­tion deve­lop­ment, and those who have inc­rea­sed awa­re­ness of and recog­ni­tion for the industry. This year, awards were given to nine reci­pients, one of which was 4H in Fin­land, forest detec­ti­ves’ day for children.

4H forest detec­ti­ves
Pic­ture: Mar­jaana Mal­ka­mäki

The forest detec­ti­ves’ day is orga­ni­sed by 4H in Fin­land to strengt­hen the forest rela­tions­hip of preschool children and 1st and 2nd gra­ders. The nar­ra­tive 2.5‑hour event sup­ports educa­tion and can be held in forests near schools. The progress of the event is gui­ded by an instruc­tor trai­ned by the 4H Fede­ra­tion.

The goal is to give children the cou­rage to move around in forests, encou­rage them to learn somet­hing new and inc­rease their unders­tan­ding of dif­fe­rent mea­nings of forests.

“We want to sup­port these pers­pec­ti­ves to lay a solid foun­da­tion for children, on top of which they can build and strengt­hen their forest rela­tions­hip later in life,” says Sampo Juha­joki, Deve­lop­ment Mana­ger at 4H in Fin­land.

The forest detec­ti­ves’ day was deve­lo­ped and tes­ted in 2022 and 2023. The 4H Fede­ra­tion had already pre­viously held forest detec­ti­ves’ clubs for children, based on which this model of a one-day forest trip has been deve­lo­ped for schools.

This year, these events have already been held in 38 loca­tions for 48 groups of schoolc­hildren, with some 1,300 children having already par­tici­pa­ted. More events will be held at dif­fe­rent schools later this autumn.

GLo­bal CTL — Huequecura, Chile

“Regar­ding the pro­mo­tion of the inter­na­tio­nal cut-to-length, the foun­da­tion wan­ted to reward the Chi­lean com­pany Huequecura, which has done very sys­te­ma­tic and high-qua­lity wood har­ves­ting in Chile. It’s impor­tant to notice how Nor­dic cut-to-length met­hod is progres­sing in the world,” says Juha Vidgren.

Einari Ope­ra­tor Awards

The award cri­te­ria for ope­ra­tor awards include cus­to­mer-dri­ven, high-qua­lity work, an unre­len­ting atti­tude when it comes to the qua­lity of work, and good coo­pe­ra­tion and com­mu­nica­tion with forest owners and other sta­ke­hol­ders. Einari had a clear idea for the award cri­te­ria: those ope­ra­tors whose qua­lity of work is high and have a good atti­tude with good cus­to­mer ser­vice skills have ear­ned their awards. This year, the Einari Vidgrén Foun­da­tion gave 41 Einari ope­ra­tor awards for high-qua­lity work.

Read more about the award reci­pients and the Einari Vidgrén Foun­da­tion at https://www.evsaatio.fi/
Press release: https://www.evsaatio.fi/uutiset/einari-vidgrn-sti-palkitsi-metsalan-osaajianbspnbspnbsp