New Act on Metsähallitus approved by the Parliament

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 30.3.2016 14.31
Press release

The Finnish Parliament has approved the new Act on Metsähallitus. The forestry business of Metsähallitus will be transferred to a limited liability company for forestry to be established by the act. The company will be fully owned by the State. By this procedure the State forestry business will be organised in a way that is competition neutral, as required by the EU law. This will allow the State to continue pursuing forestry business. The act is to enter into force on 15 April 2016.

Under the new Act on Metsähallitus all the State-owned lands and waters will remain in direct State ownership. The general task of Metsähallitus is to sustainably manage, use and protect the State's land and water property. The operations must be designed and coordinated in a way that the requirements concerning ecological, economic and social sustainability are duly accounted for. In practice this coordination takes place when preparing the regional natural resource plans of Metsähallitus.

National parks, wilderness areas and other nature conservation areas will stay in their present use, governed by the Ministry of the Environment. State-owned lands and waters continue to be governed by Metsähallitus, with the right of use to these given to the subsidiary of Metsähallitus established up by the act.

The subsidiary practising State forestry is tasked with managing the forest and harvesting and selling wood from the State's commercial forests. The Parliament, ministries and Metsähallitus shall ensure that the various societal obligations relating to biodiversity, recreation, employment, the Sami culture and reindeer herding are taken into account in the business operations. Citizens and stakeholders have the opportunity to influence the targeting of the obligations and harvesting operations to State-owned commercial forests when the regional natural resource plans are being prepared. The right to use State-owned commercial forest for business may not be transferred to any other party.

– These lands and waters are our common national property, which will stay in State ownership.  This means that the Parliament retains the powers to guide the activities relating to them. The company to be set up will also be fully owned by the State, and not a single share may be sold without the approval by the Parliament and amendments to the act, says Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen.

The Act on Metsähallitus has no elements that would weaken the position of the Sami people. Under the act the management, use and protection of natural resources governed by Metsähallitus that are located in the Sami homeland must be reconciled with the practice of the Sami culture. The municipal committees to be appointed in the Sami homeland should to some extent enhance the right of the Sami as an indigenous people to maintain and promote their language and culture.
 
Inquiries: 
Jyrki Peisa, Special Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, tel. +358 50 364 0836
Vilppu Talvitie, Director of the Legal Affairs Unit, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 417