Sustainable forest management

Sustainability means that future generations will have the same opportunities to meet their needs as the present ones, or even better. Securing sufficient forest resources and biodiversity as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation are among the key elements of sustainable use and management of forests. Forest policy establishes the framework for using forests in a sustainable way.

Sustainable forest management comprises the dimensions of economic, ecological, social and cultural sustainability. Economic sustainability means that the viability, productivity and profitability of forests are preserved in the long term. Action to secure ecological sustainability includes the protection of forest biodiversity and keeping the waters clean. Social sustainability means that the people and various stakeholders continue to have access to the benefits derived from forests. Cultural sustainability comprises the understanding of natural environments and human action, including thoughts about the relationship between forest, economy and culture.

By taking care of all the dimensions of sustainability, we can secure the opportunities for future generations to use forests as a source of wellbeing. Reconciling these different dimensions is a challenge to which the forest policy must respond.

Promoting and monitoring sustainable forest management

The purpose of forest legislation is to promote economically, ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable forest management and use in order that they produce a good output in a sustainable way while their biodiversity is being preserved. Forest management recommendations describe the means by which forests can be managed and used in a way that the objectives of forest owners are also met. If they wish to do so, forest owners can join a certification scheme where criteria and requirements are set for the forest management and use.

The sustainability of forest management is assessed and monitored on the basis of the Pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. The National Forest Inventory (NFI), the monitoring system for forests and forest resources, produces diverse information on Finnish forests. NFI results are widely used in assessing the sustainability of forest management.

Forest certification

Forest owners may enter their forest areas into a forest certification scheme, where the criteria impose requirements on the forest management and use that go beyond what is laid down by law. The certification of forests is a voluntary, market-driven system to verify the compliance with these requirements.

The certification systems currently in use in Finland are the PEFC and FSC. Most of the commercial forest area in Finland, about 90 per cent, is certified under Finland’s PEFC scheme, while about 10 per cent is certified under the FSC standard.

Related topics
Forest resources in Finland
Forests and the economy
Biodiversity in commercial forests

Related links
Silviculture (Natural Resources Institute Finland)
Forest Act (1093/1996)
PEFC in Finland
FSC Finland

Further information

Satu Rantala, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Luonnonvaraosasto, Metsä- ja bioenergiayksikkö 0295162045