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Research and development programme:

Forests and water (H2O) 2013-2017

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Groundwater protection in silviculture

Finland's groundwater resources are abundant and the quality of this water is mainly good, but high concentrations of iron, manganese and radon occur in some places due to the composition of the bedrock. Fairly shallow soils also make groundwater sensitive to contamination. In silviculture, attention has been paid to groundwater protection for decades. The risk of oil spills is minimised by using vegetable oils in forwarders and harvesters: if leaked into the soil, these oils decompose quickly, making them harmless to users of groundwater. Pesticides and fertiliser are not used when operating in aquifer areas, due to the risk of contamination. In addition, prescribed burning and stump collection for biofuel are avoided at aquifers, despite the current lack of scientific evidence that such activities are harmful. On the other hand, it has been found that other silvicultural operations such as harvesting or final cutting and the subsequent site preparation do not cause significant changes in the quality of groundwater. However, drainage of peatlands at aquifers is forbidden, since it can reduce the amount of groundwater. Recent studies have also found that groundwater at aquifers and in surrounding peatlands may be more interconnected than previously assumed and drainage of such peatlands can also increase water discharge from aquifer.

Hoisiinsärkkä aquifer, Eno, Finland. Photo: Sirpa Piirainen/Metla.  

The Forests and Water (H2O) 2013-2017 Research and Development Programme brings together existing research on the effects of silvicultural operations on the quality and quantity of groundwater. Furthermore, forest resources at Finnish aquifers and forest management needs were evaluated.
Further details are available from Sirpa Piirainen


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Updated: 27.02.2014/MLin  |  Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Metla, unless otherwise stated  |  Copyright Metla  |  Feedback