Tending of young forest is necessary to ensure future wood production. Harvested small-sized trees can be used for wood energy purposes.
Safeguarding wood production (B.4)
The basic requirement of sustainable forest management is to
safeguard the continuity and profitability of wood production
while taking into account the biological diversity of forests as
well as other forest products and services. It is also important
to safeguard the health and growth potential of forests as well
as the infrastructure required for harvesting and management,
such as the network of forest roads and their condition.
Wood production is governed and steered by the Forest Act, the
Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry, the Act on Trade
in Forest Reproductive Materials, the Forest Insect and Fungi
Damage Prevention Act, the Act on the Environmental Impact
Assessment Procedure and the Act on the Organisation of Water
The Forest Act stipulates that after regeneration felling, a new
economically viable seedling stand must be established in the
area within a reasonable period of time. Thinnings must be made
in such a way that a sufficient number of trees is left to the harvesting
area to guarantee satisfactory growth potential. The Forest
Act defines habitats of special importance to forest biodiversity,
areas whose natural features must be conserved.
The Act on Trade in Forest Reproductive Materials ensures
that the seeds and seedlings used in silviculture are of appropriate
origin for the site, of good quality and healthy. The purpose
of the Forest Insect and Fungi Damage Prevention
Act is to avoid damage to trees growing in forests by insects
and fungi; it includes provisions for instance on the storage of
timber and on the removal of damaged trees (see also the section
The Act on the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure
applies to projects that may have a significant adverse
impact on the environment, such as first drainage projects with
an area of more than 200 hectares. The Act on the Organisation
of Water Management aims to protect, improve and
restore waterways so as to prevent the deterioration of both
surface water and groundwater and to keep them in good condition
at the least.
Forest programmes specify policies to steer wood production
and use. The National Forest Programme 2015 (NFP) sets
concrete quantitative and qualitative goals for instance for the
annual production of roundwood, the use of forest chips and
forest management investments. The Forest Biodiversity Programme
for Southern Finland 2008–2016 (METSO), which
is ongoing alongside the National Forest Programme, involves
several measures to promote voluntary forest conservation.
A Regional Forest Programme sets out the needs and aims
for forest growth, management and use; forest-based business
operations; and multiple use and protection of forests for the
Forest Centre Area It also sets out the measures and funding
to attain the goals.
Private forest owners are eligible for public funding for some
silvicultural and forest improvement measures. The funding is
justified by the social benefits gained from supporting the least profitable investments in private forestry, investments which will
only yield earnings in the next generations. Silvicultural works
covering large areas which are carried out jointly by forest owners
are also supported. In addition to silvicultural aims, other factors
affecting funding include employment and environmental
issues. Public funding for forestry is today based on the Act on
the Financing of Sustainable Forestry. Other measures supported
under the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry
include the maintenance of forest biodiversity and the management
of forest ecosystems.
A new Act on energy support for low-grade timber was
enacted in 2011, replacing the former energy wood harvesting
and chipping support in the Act on the Financing of Sustainable
Forestry. This support is available to parties other than private
forest owners too, but not to the state-owned forests. Energy
support will be granted for harvesting energy wood from seedling
stands, young stands or first thinning sites.
Forest owners pay taxes on the basis of their stumpage revenues.
Taxation is calculated on the basis of real income and
expenses. The difference between earnings and expenses is
treated as capital income, and is taxed at the general rate for
capital income, 29% (2012).
|Forest management plans for an individual private forest holding are prepared according to the forest owner’s preferences and needs by weighing and focusing on timber production, nature values or recreation.
Work performed for the delivery sales of timber by the forest
owner or his/her family is regarded taxable earned income
insofar as the volume of wood gathered from the forest exceeds
125 m3 per year.
Forest planning is the most important practical tool for implementing
sustainable forest management, taking into account
harvesting potential, the safeguarding of biological diversity
and other goals that forest owners may have for their forests.
Baseline information on forests is needed for comparing calculations
based on various scenarios in planning. Forest planning
is undertaken at many levels: by individual holding, by region,
by municipality, by parish, by forests owned by Metsähallitus
and the forest industry companies, or for the entire country
(see fact box). The completed forest plan is a document usually
spanning 10 years in Finland.
Forest planning tools and levels in Finland
Management plans for individual forest holdings help
and guide private forest owners in management and use of
their forest holdings. The plans are always based on the
forest owner’s objectives and the characteristics of the
stands in question. Individual forest management plans
include data on the current status of the forest,
opportunities for harvesting, silvicultural needs and their
economic effects, as well as forecasts on the development
of growing stock and comprehensive maps. Forest
management plans are also available online. Management
plans for individual holdings are usually prepared for a
period of 10–15 years and they are updated after the
silvicultural works have been performed in the forest. The
new airborne laser altimetry method has speeded up the
collecting of forest data and also helps reduce planning
costs because fewer ground surveys are required.
Forests owned by the State and by forest industry companies,
and some jointly-owned forests are all covered
by planning which corresponds to individual forest management
plans, even though in terms of area they may be up to
1,000 times larger than private holdings.
Regional forest management plans are prepared for larger
uniform areas which consist of several individual private forest
holdings, for example, forests within the area of a village,
municipality or other coherent area. Regional management
plans for private forests are usually drawn up by the regional districts of the Finnish Forestry
Centre. The planning data are used in estimating the forest
resources or work goals of the regioanl districts of the Finnish Forestry Centre, a Forest Management
Association or a local authority. Information on individual
forest owners cannot be read from regional calculations.
There are various expectations regarding the state lands and
waters administered by Metsähallitus, which places great demands
on planning in these areas. The most extensive planning
process for lands, forests and waterways administered
by Metsähallitus is the regional natural resources planning
process, which is where protection and recreational use
and the extent of forestry measures undertaken are decided.
Local interest groups participate in natural resources planning.
Management and use plans are drawn up for nature
reserves, wilderness reserves, outdoor recreation areas and
Natura 2000 areas administered by Metsähallitus. Their purpose
is to coordinate the aims of nature conservation, recreational
use and other use. The geographical information
system of Metsähallitus contains all of the above planning
data and also data on the terrain, the tree stock and the management
measures required for the tree stock.
The National Forest Inventories prepared by the Finnish
Forest Research Institute (Metla) provide information on
the current state of Finland’s forests, and national and
regional trend forecasts for forest resources are
derived from them. The forecasts, calculated using MELA
software, are based on assessments of the current state of
forests and on alternative scenarios on how forest
resources, increment of growing stock and potential for
wood production may develop, given various options in the
management of forests and their protection programmes.
Alternative trends in national forest resources have been
calculated for instance for the National Forest Programme
and for Regional Forest Programmes.
Production of information
In a forest management regime based on private forests, it is
important that forest owners have access to sufficient information
about methods and practices for safeguarding the welfare
of their forests. Forest advisory services and information are
important factors in ensuring that the changing group of forest
owners have sufficient information about the significance and
potential of their forests.
Private forestry organisations and research institutions producing
information have in recent years increased their efforts to
provide advisory services for private forest owners and to publish
information about forest management. Issues which affect the
safeguarding of wood production are also key research topics.
Recommendations and manuals for practical silviculture have
Environmental and quality assurance systems are used to improve
the quality of silvicultural works and to mitigate negative
environmental impacts. Forest industry corporations and Metsähallitus
have adopted a certified environmental management
system based on the international ISO 14001 standard.
The PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
Schemes) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) forest certification
systems promote sustainable forest management by
committing actors in forestry to act in compliance with requirements.
Certification criteria include several requirements that
promote sustainable wood production.