Finland is the most forested country of Europe. 86% of our lands are covered by forest and almost 10% of this area is under strict conservation – more than in any other European country. The great majority of Finnish forests are in commercial use.
Forestry measures in commercial forests speed up forest growth and improve the quality of cultivated timber. For its part, the nature management of commercial forests has the aim of increasing biodiversity and thus safeguards the ecological sustainability of forest utilisation. These two objectives are not mutually exclusive and can be successfully combined.
Many ways to take nature values into consideration
The most common methods of nature management in commercial forests are the conservation of ecologically valuable habitats and leaving behind some dead wood and living retention trees as well as the favouring of broadleaved tree species and the utilisation of controlled burning.
The nature management practices employed in commercial forests are in part based on the Forest Act and the Nature Conservation Act as well as on the demands posed by forest certification schemes and the good forestry guidelines, which were published by Forestry Development Centre Tapio in 2006. Ultimately, it is up to the forest owner to decide which voluntary recommendations are observed on his or her property. Statutory requirements must of course be observed on all forest holdings.
The success of nature management measures carried out in commercial forests has been monitored since 1995 on randomly selected regeneration felling sites. The examined land area has in recent years been around 4,000 hectares, i.e. some 1-2% of the aggregate land area of all regeneration sites. Information is gathered on, for example, conservation of ecologically valuable habitats during logging as well as on the quantity and quality of trees left standing for the sake of biodiversity. Data on the quality of water protection, soil preparation and landscape management measures as well as the cost of nature management is also collected.
The results indicate that the overall standard of nature management has improved steadily since monitoring began. During the 2000s, the level of nature management was either good or excellent in about 90% of monitored locations. The results gathered during the last few years indicate that there is room for improvement mostly with regard to the protection of ecologically valuable habitats , the amount of retention trees and the water protection measures performed in conjunction with soil preparation.
Suvi Raivio, Senior Advisor (Biodiversity), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6671
The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. This series of articles examines concepts and phenomena that are related to biodiversity.