History of forest management
|Areas in slash-and-burn agriculture in Finland in 1860 and 1913.
Source: Heikinheimo 1915. Acta Forestalia Fennica 4.
The history of human influence on Finland’s forests is long and
varied. People have lived in forests, using forests in many ways.
Game, berries and mushrooms used to provide an important
source of food. Here, the livelihood and cultural development
of humans has been more dependent on forests than anywhere
else in Europe: initially on hunting, slash-and-burn agriculture
and tar burning, later on forestry and the forest industry, and
more recently also on forest-based and wood-based bioeconomy
and related businesses.
Hunting and the bartering of furs were the main livelihoods in
this part of the world for thousands of years. Agriculture was
first introduced in the form of slash-and-burn cultivation 4,000
years ago and developed into permanent agriculture 3,500 years
ago. Along with the spread of slash-and-burn cultivation, human
settlements spread to central and eastern Finland, especially
from the 16th century onwards. In the 18th and 19th centuries,
forests in Finland were also used for tar production, to meet the
needs of the mining and shipbuilding industries, for home use
and construction, and also for agriculture and grazing within
the slash-and-burn culture.
Between 50% and 75% of the forests in southern Finland, depending
on the area, had been subjected to slash-and-burn cultivation
by the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, the
greatest impact on the structure of forests has come from use
of wood as raw material for the forest industry.
Owing to the various uses of forests, there are no completely untouched
natural forests in Finland except for remnants of natural
forests in certain protected areas in Lapland and eastern Finland.
However, there are no intensively managed tree plantations either,
because forest management in commercial forests makes
use only of native tree species, and the development of mixed
stands is actively promoted in management and harvesting.
|Slash and burn agriculture on forested areas was practiced in Finland since 16th century until 1900´s, which led to devastated areas nearby
the small villages.
(photo: © Metla/Olli Heikinheimo, Heinävesi 1880). Rye cultivated after a slash and burn on the ash and humus mixture of boreal forest in Koli National Park, 1994).