Impacts of forest management on waters
|Figure 5a. The quality of water protection in harvesting,
|Figure 5b. Quality of water protection in soil preparation,
Because of the great number of lakes, rivers, small water systems
and peatland forests in Finland, issues relating to water systems
receive special attention in forest management.
The greatest impacts of forest management on waters are
caused by ditch cleaning and supplementary ditching, regeneration
fellings and related soil preparation, as well as fertilisation.
The environmental load from forest management weakens
the condition of otherwise clean headwaters, brooks and other
small water bodies. Important groundwater areas are taken into
consideration in forest management and fellings, and the quality
of groundwater is not compromised.
The phosphorus load from forest management accounted for
about 6% of the total anthropogenic nutrient load in 2008, and
the nitrogen load accounted for about 4.4%. The nitrogen load
from forestry has decreased as a consequence of the decrease
in new drainage projects. The fertilisation of peatlands has increased
the phosphorus load caused by drained mires.
The national water protection programme, Guidelines for
water protection to 2015, specifies some targets for the reduction
of the environmental load on waters from forestry. The
measures for the implementation of the policy guidelines for
water protection are defined and targeted in detail in water
management plans. Forest management measures included in
water management plans include the increased use of surface
runoff fields, submerged dams, drainage dams and wetlands
in ditch cleaning and supplementary ditching and in the combating
of erosion in forests (nature management projects); enhanced
waterway protection planning; training for contractors
and planners; and advisory services for forest owners in water
Forest management measures must be planned so that they do
not adversely affect the condition of small water systems, andsmall water systems whose natural values have declined must
be restored. A small water system restoration programme is to
be drawn up with reference to implementing water management
plans, and this will involve forest management measures too.
Finland’s National Forest Programme 2015 sets out targets
for the reduction of the environmental load on waters from forestry.
Under the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment
Procedure, the environmental impacts of large-scale peat production
and drainage projects must be assessed.
Knowledge about the environmental impacts of forest management
and ways for reducing it has increased substantially
in the last 30 years, and new information has been applied on
a broad scale.
|An unbroken riparian zones must be retained along waterways
and small bodies of water during fellings and silvicultural
measures for the protection of waters.
|Natural peatlands are no longer drained in Finland, but the
conditions of already drained peatlands is improved in ditch
cleaning and supplementary ditching projects. A water protection
plan is drawn up in conjunction with these operations.
According to the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry,
measures for water management which receive funding
must be based on a duly prepared plan. A water protection plan
must always be included in plans concerning ditch cleaning and
Guidelines and recommendations on water and soil protection
in forest management have been prepared by private forestry
organisations, Metsähallitus and forest industry companies in
co-operation with environmental authorities. In 2011, the Regional
Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the
Environment of Central Finland will be coordinating the launch
of a broad-based three-year project piloting water protection
nationwide in peat production and forestry, known as the TASO
project. The purpose of this project is to generate new information
at the national level and to find practical solutions for
the management of water protection problems in peat production
Water protection is also addressed in the forest certification
standards: an unbroken riparian zone must be retained along
waterways and small bodies of water, natural mires are not
drained, a water protection plan is drawn up in conjunction
with ditch cleaning and supplementary ditching, no chemical
pesticides or fertilisers are used in groundwater areas, and the
use of chemical pesticides is avoided in general.
In harvesting and silvicultural work, riparian zones with an unbroken
forest cover are left along waters, digging breaks and
sludge sumps are established in soil preparation, and felling
residue is handled so that no nutrients are washed into ditches
or waters. Logging roads are planned so as to ensure that
no channels for water are created between ditches and small
Since 1995, the quality of water protection in harvesting and
soil preparation works in private forests and forests of the forest
industry companies and Metsähallitus has been monitored
by Forestry Development Centre Tapio in conjunction with
the assessment of the quality of nature management in commercial
forests. The quality of waters is also monitored by the
environmental administration. Statistics on the nutrient load,
runoff into waters, etc. are compiled by the Finnish Environment
Water protection in conjunction with harvesting and soil preparation
improved during the monitoring period 1995–2010.
In 2010, the quality of water protection in private forests was
rated either excellent or good in over 95% and over 83% of
the assessed roundwood harvesting sites and soil preparation
sites, respectively. On average, the quality of water protection
has been good or excellent in over 90% of the harvesting and
soil preparation sites.