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State of Finland's Forests 2012: Finnish forests and
forest management in a nutshell

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Potential impact of climate change on forests

The mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 2 °C to 6 °C, and rainfall by 5% to 25%, by the year 2100 compared with the past 30-year period. It is also assumed that various extreme weather phenomena such as storms, hot dry spells in summer and heavy snowfall and rainfall will become more common.

Gradual change may be measured by when trees begin their growth phase in the spring. The opening of buds on coniferous trees and flowering now occurs 3 to 11 days earlier in Finland than it did at the beginning of the last century, 100 years ago.

However, the most serious immediate threats to forest development are extreme weather phenomena. Drought, forest fires, storms and snow damage may cause widespread tree destruction, preventing forest regeneration, in addition to which the resulting large amounts of deadwood may prompt a massive proliferation of forest pests in surrounding healthy forests.

Research and long-term experiments with the transfer of tree species provenancies from the north to the south lead to the following conclusions regarding future impacts of climate change in the boreal zone:

  • The growing season will lengthen, and forest growth may actually increase. This increase could be as much as 20%
  • to 50%, depending on the tree species. The increase will be greatest in the north and in mires.
  • Wind damage will probably become more common, although due to Finland’s geographical location the impact of winds coming in from the Atlantic is not as pronounced as it is in southern Sweden, Denmark or central Europe. Wind damage may be widespread in Lapland, and local and occasional in southern Finland. The spruce is the tree most susceptible to wind damage.
  • As the climate becomes warmer and local forest damage occurs, the risk of mass proliferation of pests such as the large European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). Insect pests are expected to migrate north from the temperate zone, possibly causing massive damage.
  • In forests along the timberline, climate change may cause the timberline to shift up or north, thereby precipitating the gradual extinction of certain species.
  • Forest management according to experience-based best practices is the principal means for helping forests adapt to climate change. Managing seedling stands in a timely manner, carrying out first fellings and avoiding excess density in the growth phase help secure the vitality of forests, along with genetic resource protection and tree breeding. Most of Finland’s forests are under continuous management, which is why their productivity and vitality remain good.

 

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  Updated: 27.02.2012 /MLier |  Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Metla, unless otherwise stated | Copyright Metla | Feedback