Maintenance of cultural and spiritual values (B.12)
Forests play an important part in the construction of the Finnish
identity. The settlement of Finland and the emergence of Finnish
culture were based on forests. The identification of the cultural
heritage36 and landscape values of forests and their preservation
are therefore important for future generations. By taking
cultural values into account it is possible to ensure that the traditional
ways of using and tending forests are passed on to future
generations. Forest culture can also be used in commercial
operations and leisure activities.
|One of Finland’s National landscapes at Punkaharju. The 200 hundred years old seven kilometres long road on the narrow ridge, has been
created from gravel deposits along the edge of the continental ice sheetand is separating two lakes.
International conventions and commitments
The sustainable management of natural resources and the preservation
of cultural and landscape values are also included in
the aims of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD
1992), the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity
Strategy (PEBLDS 1995), and the European Landscape
The Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe
in Vienna in 2003 recognised social and cultural dimensions of
forests in the separate resolution. The Convention Concerning
the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is an
international convention adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
National legislation and programmes
Cultural heritage, landscapes and the associated values are extensively
taken into account in Finnish legislation.
Local planning based on the Land Use and Building Act can
be used to issue instructions for planning, protection and construction
that take cultural, historical and landscape values into
account. In land use planning, the cultural impacts of the plan
must be assessed. According to the Land Use and Building Act,
actions altering the landscape may not be taken without a permit.
A landscape work permit may be required in master plans
instead of the Forest Use Declaration set down in the Forest Act.
Trees in areas covered by a detailed land use plan may not be
felled without a permit.
According to the Forest Act, forests must be managed in an
economically, ecologically and socially sustainable way. The act
provides for the opportunity to manage forests in a way which
takes into account the special characteristics of sites in terms
of landscape, multiple use and research.
Under the Antiquities Act, antiquities are automatically protected.
Prehistoric and historic relics must be taken into account
in all land use. This requirement is also incorporated in forest
certification. The National Board of Antiquities has, together
with organisations in the forest sector, produced guidelines for
forest management in areas containing antiquities.
The Nature Conservation Act allows the establishment of
landscape conservation areas for the conservation and management
of the natural or cultural beauty of the area, its historical
characteristics or other special values.
Other statutes linked to cultural and landscape values of forests
are: the Act on Wilderness Reserves, the Land Extraction
Act, the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure,
the Act on the Assessment of the Impacts of the Authorities’
Plans, Programmes and Policies on the Environment,
the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry, and
decrees on agricultural support systems.
The objectives of Finland’s National Forest Programme 2015
include strengthening the aspects of forests that promote human
wellbeing and culture. Cultural and landscape functions of
forests are also covered in the Natural Resources Strategy
of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in agricultural
policy programmes and sectoral programmes for agriculture,
as well as in various regional and local development
and environmental programmes.
In addition to forestry and regional policy programmes, the main
strategic instruments governing the management of forest landscapes
and land use changes are the Government Resolution
on national land use guidelines (VAT 2000) and the Government
Resolution on nationally valuable landscape areas
and development of landscape management (1995).
Metsähallitus has drawn up a cultural heritage strategy for
its Natural Heritage Services for the period 2007–2015.
Other steering instruments
The management and use plans for national parks, wilderness
areas and nature conservation areas promote not only
nature conservation but also the management of landscapes
and cultural heritage in these areas. Many nationally valuable
landscape conservation areas are also covered by management
and use plans. Regional management plans are prepared also
for heritage landscapes, i.e., traditional biotopes. Regional and
municipal programmes on the cultural environment basically
govern the planning, protection and management of the built
environment and landscape, but they can also include aims that
Agricultural and forest areas of special environmental value are
designated as such in land use plans. Scenically valuable fields
should not be afforested or allowed to grow over. Nationally
and regionally valuable cultural landscape areas and sites are
also marked in land use plans. Only recommendations on forest
management may be given in the plans.
Forests near settlements, cultivated areas and shorelines are
taken into account in management plans if the forest owner so
wishes. The Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry can
be applied to finance joint nature management plans which take
landscape values into consideration and extend to the area of
several holdings. Under the Rural Development Programme,
farmers are eligible for special support to offset the cost of managing
wooded heritage landscapes or loss of income caused by
such management. Management recommendations for forest
landscapes are issued in the Forest Landscape Management
manual published by Tapio and Metsäteho Oy.
Metsähallitus is conducting an inventory of the cultural
heritage sites in State forests in 2010–2015. This ongoing
inventory is the most extensive inventory of cultural heritage
sites in Finland, and it is one of the targets of Finland’s National
Forest Programme 2015.
36 Cultural heritage consists of the immaterial and material heritage created
by human activity. Material cultural heritage can be movable (e.g. books and
objects) or fixed.