Forest regeneration is a part of our centuries-long forestry tradition and one of the measures that safeguards the sustainability of the Finnish forestry. Also the Forest Act places an obligation to cultivate new trees. Regional forestry centres oversee compliance to this law.
A new forest generation is created through natural regeneration, seeding or planting. In natural regeneration, so-called seedling trees are left in the cutting area to spread their seeds and generate a seedling stand. This method works best when replacing pine felled at barren habitats. Seeding is usually used when regenerating pine, but it is also used to some extent for birch. This method is not suited for rich or grassy lands. Planting can be done in all habitats. Additional saplings grow naturally also in planted sapling stands.
Regeneration work is done in over 150,000 hectares of forest around Finland each year from spring to autumn. Two thirds of these areas are regenerated using saplings. About 160 million forest tree saplings are planted in Finnish forests annually. Traditionally, forests have been regenerated with domestic tree species and this practice is nowadays a requirement of forest certification. The most suitable species of tree is selected for each respective habitat.
Seeds from cones – saplings from seeds
Tree seeds come from cones, which are harvested at seedling tree plantations or collected at cutting areas. Most pine seeds go directly to seeding operations in forests, while spruce seeds go to seedling nurseries, which can grow up to tens of thousands saplings from a kilo of seeds. The majority of saplings planted in Finland have been produced by domestic nurseries.
One average, 1,800 spruce saplings are planted in a one-hectare cutting area; several saplings for every felled tree. Saplings are usually planted by hand: about 1,500 a day can be planted using a planting bar. 300 – 400 grams of pine seeds are sowed on a hectare if seeding is done mechanically; the amount is 250 – 300, if seeding is done manually.
Forestry professionals helping forest owners
Finnish forest owners are aware of their responsibilities and invest in forest regeneration because they know that growing trees is profitable. The decisions made during the establishment of a new forest and in the beginning of a sapling stand’s development largely determine what kind of forest will grow on the site and the quality of the timber that will be eventually harvested there.
The assistance of forestry professionals is available to forest owners. Forestry companies, forest management associations and forestry service companies provide a comprehensive range of services, from consultation to forestry and felling work. They can also handle forest owners’ regeneration work as a natural continuation to the regeneration felling phase.
Forestry professionals investigate what procedures are necessary in a regeneration area and carry out this work, such as soil preparation, procurement of seeds or saplings as well as sowing or planting. They also assist in management of the sapling stand and provide information on the financial subsidies available for that work. If a forest owner so wishes, forestry professionals will handle all phases of the forestry and regeneration work on a turnkey principle.