Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 15.06.2006

Northern coniferous forests - research to produce new information on pristine forest areas

In collaboration with five Russian institutes, the Kolari Research Unit of the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) is starting a research project “Northern coniferous forests - Tools through research for the sustainable use of forests in the Barents region". The focus of research will be on disturbance, regeneration and biodiversity of pristine forests.

Funding for the project was granted through the EU-Interreg III A North Kolarctic Neighbourhood programme. The project will continue until the end of February 2008 and the total budget is 562,417 €. The project consists of sub-sections Interreg and Tacis. The Lapland Regional Environment Centre is providing funding at the national level. In addition to Metla, the University of Lapland, the Finnish Environment Institute and the University of Helsinki are also participating in the project.

A project coordinator’s position, fixed for almost two years, is currently open, with deadline for applications closing before Midsummer. In addition to the project coordinator, supporting staff is being recruited for field work to be performed in Finnish Lapland, in the Kola region and Archangel.

The project has five sub-regions
In practice, the master project will be carried out in five sub-regions. Dedicated tasks and responsibilities are divided between different specialists and organizations:

1) The meaning of small-scale disturbances to the structure and development of pristine spruce forests.
2) The incidence of forest fires in pristine pine forests.
3) The impact of natural disturbances and cuttings on biodiversity.
4) Forest damage mapping and guidance development for forest management of old spruce forests in the Archangel region.
5) Forest and forest vegetation development stages after a forest fire.

In order to maintain natural features of commercial forests, information is needed to learn about the long-term development of forests protected from fire. The research will provide information that can be used, for example, to develop forest management methods that simulate disturbance dynamics occurring in nature.

Ecological forest management benefits society
Special targets of the Northern coniferous forests - Interreg-Tacis project:
-to acquire new information on development and biodiversity of pristine forests
-to develop contacts between researchers and exchange research results
-to use and develop shared research methods
-to produce joint research publications

The results of the project will impact several sectors: silviculture, teaching and research. The research will provide a basis of information to support sustainable and ecological forest management in northern forests. Tourism and reindeer husbandry, as well as trade and industry, will benefit from the adaptation of the forest economy to northern conditions. Knowing how pristine forests develop is also important for the management of conservation areas. The regional economy will be improved when local conditions are taken into account in the forest economy, and conflicts due to multiple land use forms are reduced. Information will be disseminated through scientific conferences and news bulletins.

Additionally, the Tacis section steered by the Russians has specific targets aimed at practical use. A vegetation map of the Lapland Strict Nature Reserve will be updated and questions regarding spruce forests suffering from root and butt rot will be addressed.

Additional information:

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