Forest management practices

The profitability of Finnish forestry is based on the good timber production capacity of forests and demand for Finnish wood. Forest management aims to promote the growth of valuable stands and improve the quality of roundwood. In addition to wood production, today's forest management focuses on the preservation of natural values, landscape management and recreational needs.

Forestry practices in Finland

In Finland forestry generally involves the management of small forest stands where trees are of a similar age. Such stands are managed according to a regeneration cycle extending from planting or natural regeneration to the final harvesting phase. Forests may be regenerated naturally, by leaving a few selected seed trees during final harvesting, or artificially, by sowing seeds or planting seedlings grown in tree nurseries. The aim is always to ensure the regeneration of a productive stand of a suitable tree species for the specific site within a reasonable time. The length of the regeneration cycle can be between 50 and 120 years, depending on the tree species and the location of a forest stand. In some locations special methods are devised for the management of forest stands with trees of differing ages, particularly in recreational forests or landscape forests.

Younger commercially managed forests are typically thinned out periodically, with some 25−30% of the trees removed during thinning. The increasing demand for wood for bioenergy has created new markets for the trees cut during such thinnings, and for logging residues such as branches and stumps which earlier used to be left in the forest. Alternative method for even-aged forestry is uneven-aged forestry, where no final felling is performed. The trees in such a forest are uneven-aged from saplings to timber trees. Forest regeneration is performed by light selection felling or small scale group selection system. The forest regenerates naturally after the loggings. In both methods the biodiversity of forests is being promoted by maintaining the characteristics of the valuable habitats.

Four tree species are naturally predominant in Finland’s forests: Scots pine, Norway spruce, Downy birch and Silver birch. These species also dominate in commercially managed stands, and exotic tree species are not widely grown.

Finnish forests are managed so as to promote their biodiversity. Ecologically valuable trees including dead and decaying trees are left in the forest during logging, and care is taken to preserve valuable natural features including the habitats of endangered species.