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State of Finland's Forests 2012: Criterion 3 Productive functions

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Safeguarding and increasing services and non-wood products (B.5)


National programmes

The National Natural Resources Strategy (2009), headed by the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra) and compiled by an extensive group of experts, looks at the big picture in the use of natural resources and seeks to find new operating models for business, politics and everyday life. A report entitled Building an Intelligent and Responsible Natural Resource Economy, based on the National Natural Resources Strategy, was published in 2010. The Natural Resources Strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry includes objectives pertaining to the use of game animal populations, products collected from forests and forest landscapes in the development of business activities and by households.

The National Forest Programme 2015 also addresses nonwood forest products and envisages growing opportunities for economic activity in nature tourism and natural products, among other things. The commercialisation of intangible commodities available from forests as well as research and development initiatives relating to wellness and health benefits will be promoted. The Rural Policy Programme 2009–2013 rests on the diverse use of natural resources in the development of rural areas, placing a special emphasis on the networking of different actors, such as natural resources entrepreneurs. Under the Rural Policy Committee composed of representatives of the various administrative sectors, there are several theme groups which also promote the multiple use of forests.

The purpose of the Sitra Landmarks Programme in 2010– 2014 is to identify interest in the countryside and changes therein, and to conduct local experiments to generate new business.



Cross-country skiing is a popular winter sport in Finland. It also provides an opportunity to develop nature tourism, especially in Lapland.

The freedom to move in forests and to collect berries and mushrooms in Finland derives from what are known as Everyman’s Rights. Everyman’s Rights are an established and accepted practice, even though not provided for by law. The Off-Road Traffic Act governs motorised vehicle traffic in forests. The Outdoor Recreation Act governs the setting up and management of recreational routes, State hiking areas and camping areas.

Under the Forest Act, forests that are valuable in terms of scenery, multiple use or scientific research can be managed in a way that suits the particular characteristics of the site. The various uses of forests are reconciled in zoning based on the Land Use and Building Act. Recreational areas as well as primarily agricultural and forestry areas in need of recreational supervision are indicated in the land use plans, as well as the needs for transportation between areas.

The Hunting Act specifies the times for the hunting seasons for game animals and the procedure for granting hunting permits. Hunters are required to pass a hunting examination. Hunting rights belong to the landowner. However, inhabitants in the Lapland region and in certain municipalities in the Province of Oulu have free hunting rights on State land within their municipality of residence.

With certain restrictions, reindeer herding in the reindeer herding area defined in the Reindeer Husbandry Act is permitted on all land regardless of the ownership of the land. The Act also includes provisions on the prevention of and compensation for damage done by reindeer, and on the maximum permitted number of reindeer. Rights relating to reindeer husbandry are also addressed in the Skolt Act. The Act on the Financing of Reindeer Husbandry and Natural Economy Industries supports the livelihoods and living conditions of persons engaged in reindeer husbandry and natural economy industries.


Economic incentives

The collecting of wild berries and mushrooms is encouraged by exempting income from their sales from tax. The further processing of products collected from forests is supported through many funding channels.

The agri-environmental support scheme compensates farmers for costs and loss of income incurred through environmental protection and landscape management measures. Measures qualifying for compensation include the management of filter strips and riparian zones. Special support is available for establishing wetlands, filter strips and sedimentation ponds and for preserving traditional biotopes and landscapes.

In granting business support for setting up enterprises based on natural produce and nature tourism, related investments and product development are considered on a par with those of other small and medium enterprises. Various funding channels are available for educational and network development projects, as well as village development projects. Funding is granted primarily by the regional Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Other major funding bodies include the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES); Regional Councils, which have an interest in emphasising regional development; and the Rural Policy Committee.


Forest planning

Non-wood products and services are covered in all national and regional programmes and action plans on forests, and also in the natural resources plans of Metsähallitus (see Indicator B.4). The multiple uses of forests are coordinated not only in forest planning but also in zoning. The certification criteria for forests also promote the multiple use of forests and facilitate reindeer husbandry.


Monitoring, research and advisory services

The Finnish Forest Research Institute studies non-wood forest products in several of its projects and also monitors the supply and demand of recreational use and nature tourism. An extensive inventory, the National inventory of recreational use of nature (LVVI) , was conducted in 1998–2002 and again in 2008– 2011. Regional forecasts for berry and mushroom harvests are prepared by the Finnish Forest Research Institute in the summer in cooperation with 4-H organisations and trained berry and mushroom consultants. Metsähallitus monitors the recreational use of state lands and keeps relevant statistics.

The Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute and the Finnish Museum of Natural History study questions relating to game management, compile nationwide statistics on game bags, and evaluate the development of game populations together with the National Game Management Centre. Elk and reindeer husbandry are studied at the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute and the Finnish Forest Research Institute.

Sustainable management of game in Finland is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Hunting licences are also granted and monitored by State Provincial Offices and on State land by Metsähallitus. The National Game Management Centre and the 15 game management districts under it are also statutory authorities in this field. Local game management associations provide education and advisory services regarding hunting and game management. Their work is funded by the game management fees paid by hunters. Matters relating to hunting and game management are also dealt with in hunting associations and national hunting organisations, whose membership is voluntary.

Many educational institutions and voluntary organisations promote the use of natural resources by organising training events and courses and by producing educational material. Increasing nature tourism has also increased training in this area. There are numerous trained wilderness guides who work as private entrepreneurs and in the growing tourism businesses.



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