Forest legislation in Finland
An extensive package of new forest acts and related decrees has entered into force in the beginning of 2014, as an outcome of the most comprehensive reform process for decades. The package comprises amendments to the Forest Act and Forest Management Associations Act, a new Forest Damages Act, Act on the Placing on the Market of Timber and Timber Products, and parts of the Timber Measurement Act concerning the measuring of energy wood.
The amendments to the Forest Act increase the freedom of choice of forest owners in managing their own forest property, improve the profitability of forestry and operating conditions of wood-producing industry, and enhance the biodiversity of forests. One important objective in the reform was to have less detailed regulation on the treatment of forests and to clarify the legislation. The most important changes include allowing uneven-aged forest stands, abolition of age and diameter limits in regeneration, more diverse range of tree species, and increase in habitats of special importance (section 10). Notification of the establishment of seedling stands is no longer required and supervision is targeted to the results of regeneration, for which new minimum limits have been specified.
The amendments to the Forest Management Associations Act allow forest owners more freedom of choice in supervising their interests and purchasing forest services, as well as improve the competitiveness and profitability of forestry and related industries. The act as a whole enters into force in 2015, but the tax-like forest management fees are not collected starting from 2014. The last forest management fees are thus collected for the year 2013 and these area payable at the end of 2014. In the future the forest management associations will finance their activities by membership fees collected from forest owners and by return on their business operations. The restrictions on these business operations are abolished, which means that the forest management associations will be allowed to produce forestry and timber trade services for their members.
The purpose of the Forest Damages Prevention Act is to ensure good forest health by preventing insect damages, in particular. The new act is quite similar to the earlier one, entitled the Act on Preventing Insect and Fungi Damages. The most significant changes are those concerning the earlier removal of spruce timber in southern Finland, provisions on energy wood, time limit for taking stumps away from forest, and definition of damaged wood to be removed from forest. The act simplifies the administration by replacing most of the control in the field by operators’ self-supervision.
The Timber Measurement Act entered into force on 1 July 2013, but the new provisions concerning the measurement of energy wood included a transitional period until the end of the year. In the same way as for other timber assortments, the new provisions ensure the reliability of different kinds of measurement methods.
The Act on the Placing on the Market of Timber and Timber Products implements the EU Timber Regulation No 995/2010 in Finland. The purpose of the act is to prevent the entry of illegally produced timber on the Finnish market. The Finnish Agency for Rural Affairs, as the competent authority, supervises the deliveries of imported timber together with the Finnish Customs and the legality of timber produced in Finland together with the Finnish Forest Centre.
The acts were prepared in collaboration with various stakeholders.
Management and use of forests
- Forest Act
- Decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on the Application of the Forest Act
- Wilderness Act
- Act on Trade in Forest Reproductive Material
- Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on Trade in Forest Reproductive Material
- The Forest Damages Prevention Act
Compensating for moose damages
- Act on Metsähallitus
- Government Decree on Metsähallitus
- Act on the Finnish Forest Research Institute
- Act on the Finnish Forestry Centre
- Government Decree on the operations of the Finnish Forestry Centre
- Forest Management Association Act
- Forest Management Association Decree
- Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on the Grounds for Forest Management Fee of 2012
- Act on Jointly Owned Forests
- Timber Measurement Act