Forest resources on drained mires are underutilized. Silvicultural investments have helped to increase the annual increment of the growing stock in peatland forests to almost 24 million cubic metres, but the volume of fellings is no more than a third of the growth volume. The profit on investments will be left unutilized and the good development of forests may be jeopardized if commercial thinnings, especially in young peatland forests, are not increased. The results of a project carried out at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) are introduced in a working paper called “ Silviculture and harvesting in peatland forests – current status and development needs”.
Peatland stands are not well suited for summer harvesting, constituting a challenge for harvesting operations. In order to increase the level of utilization of peatland forests, strong investment in developing harvesting equipment and methods will be needed. A decisive attempt should be made to lengthen the harvesting season, because increased seasonal variation in harvesting increases the costs and makes recruitment of harvesting staff even more difficult than it already is.
The harvesting season can be prolonged by using more developed forestry machines and by more accurate harvesting classification. Forest haulage should be a particular focus area with the forwarders used today being improved with special equipment and if necessary, the creation of totally new machine solutions. Under the right conditions, some of the stands currently regarded as winter-harvesting sites can be harvested during the unfrozen season. It is necessary to learn to distinguish these sites and to be able to harvest them also outside the optimal winter season.
Planning and phasing of operations in ditch network maintenance and felling need to be developed, since large numbers of peatland forests are about to reach harvesting age. Drawing the line between mires to be maintained for commercial forest growing and those to be left outside it has recently become emphasized and more than ever, it is essential to ensure that investments into peatland forestry are cost-effective.
The working report is the final publication from the “Silviculture and harvesting in peatland forests” project. The project was financed by the Finnish Forest Research Institution, Metsähallitus and Tornator Oy.
Publication: Heikkilä, J. 2007. Turvemaiden puun kasvatus ja korjuu - nykytila ja kehittämistarpeet. Metlan Working Papers 43. (in finnish)