Work aimed at protecting forest biodiversity produces results, according to a research report that has just been published by the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland. Measures taken to promote natural management of commercial forests have been in the right direction and the results have been encouraging.
"Many measures are being taken to promote natural management of commercial forests, and natural management has become an integral part of forest management and harvesting. Valuable habitats in commercial forests have been inventoried and are left untouched as a rule. Structural features typical of natural forests are also preserved and increased by leaving retention trees and deciduous trees in felling areas and through the controlled burning of forests, among other things. Although the results of natural management of commercial forests only become visible slowly, studies have also shown rapid positive effects on species. Methods to protect forest biodiversity must be further developed in cooperation with other parties," notes Dr Suvi Raivio, a biodiversity specialist at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
One of the key objectives of natural management of commercial forests is to increase the amount of large deadwood. Also living retention trees left in felling areas will decay in time. According to monitoring work conducted by the Forestry Development Centre Tapio concerning nature management, the amount of large deadwood has begun to rise as a result of new methods. Nearly a million cubic metres of trees are left in regeneration felling areas each year.
The forest industries have put a lot of effort into protecting forest biodiversity by training personnel and forest machine operators in environmental matters and financing research such as the Finnish Biodiversity Research Programme (FIBRE) and the MOSSE Biodiversity and Monitoring Programme.
Finland has the highest percentage of strictly protected forests in Europe (7.6% of the total forest area), but in southern Finland additional measures are still needed to protect biodiversity. Alongside natural management in commercial forests, measures arranged on a voluntary basis are the best way to do this. Voluntary conservation is also needed because private persons own around 70 per cent of forests in southern Finland. Several studies have shown that a voluntary approach increases private forest owners’ willingness to participate in nature conservation.
Suvi Raivio, biodiversity specialist, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6671, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org