According to the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla report State of Finland’s Forests, the condition of Finland’s forests has improved over the last two decades. Although changes in the forest environment happen only very slowly, positive developments can be identified.
Finland’s growing stock volume has increased 40% over the last four decades. At the same time, the aggregate forested area has remained almost unchanged and an amount corresponding with the present volume of growing stock has been harvested and utilised to create prosperity for Finnish society. The report notes that the Finnish Government measures, forest owner activity and comprehensive forest planning have promoted the sustainability of wood production.
Forest-based livelihoods will continue to be important
The report estimates that forest-based livelihoods will continue to form a substantial foundation for the Finnish national economy long into the future. At the moment, the forest sector accounts for around 4% of GDP and no less than 20% of the overall value of Finnish exports. As a raw material, wood is renewable and has an inherent ability to bind carbon – consequently, there’s every reason to expect that the significance of wood-based products and energy will increase in the future. The forest industry is actively developing new products to complement its existing range.
Promising results on improving forest biodiversity
Over the last 15 years, the management and utilisation of Finnish forests have been based on forestry practices that take consideration of forest biodiversity and mimic the natural cycles of the forest ecology. The existing Forest Act stipulates that the safeguarding of biodiversity is a parallel goal to wood production in all forestry activities.
According to the report, the nature management measures that have been carried out in commercial forests have achieved favourable results: the decline in some forest species has decelerated or halted, although forest species as a whole continue to decline.
The area of protected forests has tripled in Finland over the past 35 years to 9.6% of the overall forested area. The report notes that, unlike other European countries, Finland emphasises strict forest conservation measures. Finland has Europe’s highest share of strictly protected forests, 5.2%.
European background of the report
The fourth State of Finland’s Forests report was published by the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla in conjunction with the European Ministerial Forest Conference this June. The report is based on a shared European set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forestry.
Tomi Salo, Senior Vice President (Forests and Environment), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6610, +358 45 875 8911