Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 01.12.2005

Active forest owners interested in natural values trading

According to a survey carried out by the Department of Economics of the University of Oulu and the Finnish Forest Research Institute, the forest owners who at this stage have participated in the voluntary natural values trading own large forest holdings and are active in forest management. They have also sufficient information and training to be able to evaluate the potential nature sites on their holding. This poses a challenge to find a way to include also the more passive forest owners with less knowledge about their forests but potentially interested in natural values trading, especially if this activity is extended to the whole country. The natural values trading procedure included in the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO is a pilot project targeted to non-industrial private forest owners, which is aimed to maintain elements contributing to the biological diversity in private forests. In this procedure the landowners commit to a voluntary contract concerning the maintenance or enhancing of natural values in their forests for a fixed term and receive a premium for this.

According to the results, most of the forest owners are satisfied with the practice applied in natural values trading. Most of those who expressed dissatisfaction had offered sites for natural values trading but had not concluded a contract. Over 70 per cent of respondents had a positive attitude to nature conservation in forests, and the respondents had also protected natural values on their lands on their own initiative more frequently than the forest owners in general. Multiple use of forest received special emphasis in the objectives of forest ownership. The payment was a precondition for participating in the conservation, but most found it difficult to set the payment level themselves. Some of the responses indicated that the forest owners may aim at negotiating as high a payment as possible, which means that positive attitudes to nature conservation do not necessarily result in lower payment requirements.

The majority of forest owners who concluded a contract would have harvested the site during the following ten years and only about a third would have protected the site without the contract. Most of the forest owners involved in natural values trading would like to continue the contract after the current contract period. Considering the future this is very positive, because ten years is a very short contract period for ensuring the maintenance of the natural values of forests.

The pilot project of natural values trading was launched in 2003 in the territory of the South-West Finland Forestry Centre. The decisions on long-term actions in the forest conservation in southern Finland will be made in 2007. In view of the future it is very important to obtain information on the opinion of forest owners on the conservation means tested under the METSO Programme, such as natural values trading, and how well they work, both ecologically and economically.

In the survey questions were asked concerning the opinions and experiences of forest owners who participated in the scheme on natural values trading and their attitudes to the protection and management of forests. Relating to this topic, the doctoral thesis of researcher Artti Juutinen entitled "Biodiversity conservation in forestry: essays on the economics of site selection" was examined at the Department of Economics of the University of Oulu on 2 December 2005.

Publication: Juutinen, Artti, Horne, Paula, Koskela, Terhi, Matinaho, Sari, Mäntymaa, Erkki & Mönkkönen Mikko, 2005 "Forest owners' views on natural values trading: survey to the participants of the pilot project on natural values trading" Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 18 (in Finnish)

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