Treatment of Finnish forests
Finland’s forests are being managed in diverse ways. Forest owners have varying objectives and there are differences in the growing conditions between forest sites, which is why diverse forest treatment methods are needed. Diverse treatment is also needed to protect forest biodiversity. A diverse forest nature provides the best conditions for Finnish forest species to grow.
Forest management guided by growing conditions, legislation and forest owners’ objectives
The types of sites vary from lush herb-rich forests to nutrient-poor heathland forests. The fellings and their timing, forest regeneration methods and other forest management measures depend on the growing conditions of each specific site. The final decision on forest management rests with the forest owner. It is typical for forest owners to have several objectives for forest management, which are also reflected in how the forests are treated. The objectives may relate to income to be derived from forests, biodiversity and recreational use.
The legislation sets the framework conditions for forest treatment. The types of felling used in Finland are regeneration felling and intermediate felling. In intermediate felling trees are harvested in a way that the growing conditions of the remaining stand improve. In regeneration felling the whole growing stock, except for the seed and shelterwood trees, is harvested and a new generation of trees continues to grow on the site.
In regeneration felling the forest owner is obliged to regenerate the forest, which is also the case if the stand remaining after intermediate felling does not meet the requirements set by the law. Regeneration can be done by cultivating or through natural regeneration.
Both even and uneven-aged forests
The typical way of managing Finnish forests after tending of seedling stands and intermediate felling is to perform regeneration felling and forest regeneration by planting, seeding or natural regeneration. This method is called even-aged forest management.
Another option is to avoid regeneration felling and cultivation measures. After the amendments to the Forest Act felling undertaken in uneven-aged forest management is regarded as intermediate felling. The aim of the method is to maintain forest cover and carry out repeated and quite drastic small-scale clear cuttings to improve the conditions of the remaining stand to grow and for the production of new seedling material. The aim is a forest stand with a diverse age structure.
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.
Forest legislation in Finland