HS Environment Researchers: If Finland intends to stick to its own forest targets, protection and continuous cultivation should be greatly increased

Researchers searched for three national forest management strategies and found inconsistencies in them.

If Finland intends to stick to the forest targets it has set itself, the current forest management should be practically revolutionized. The researchers of the University of Jyväskylä together with European forest researchers came to this conclusion.

The research team reviewed three of Finland’s own policy papers, which set out objectives for the use of forests. In addition, the researchers calculated what kind of forest use would achieve these goals. The changes required are so great that they can well be described as upheavals.

The national forest strategy, the national biodiversity strategy and the national bioeconomy strategy were examined. Each has been prepared by different ministries: the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Because researchers wondered whether the strategies were consistent or divergent.

“If each sector pursues its own policy and if the goals are contradictory, it will become inefficient and the goals will be difficult to achieve,” says the professor of ecology. Mikko Mönkkönen From the University of Jyväskylä.

All three strategies are Finland’s own guidelines, ie they have not been decided in the EU, for example.

The study found that the strategies are contradictory. In addition, the national forest strategy under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was also internally contradictory. It had outlined biodiversity targets that could not be achieved because forestry timber production targets made logging volumes high.

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Everyone the objectives of the three line papers are such that they will not be achieved with the current use of forests. Both the protected area and the continuous cultivation of commercial forests would need much more.

In order to achieve the objectives of the strategies, 24% of forests should be protected (forest strategy objectives), 52% (biodiversity) or 35% (bioeconomy).

Everyone would be a huge change, as according to the classification used by researchers, about 11 percent of Finland’s forests are now protected.

Read more: The red glow reveals the last remnants of Finland’s rich nature – And at the same time how sad we have destroyed them

Continuous cultivation means that the commercial forest is grown under cover and only a part of the trees is picked from it. This type of farming should be increased to 38% (forest strategy objectives), 18% (biodiversity) or 18% (bioeconomy).

This is also a big change, as now the majority of the final felling is done in the forest, which is grown evenly in open forest.

Read more about continuous education: Can the forest be kept and still be felled?

Some commercial forests should be used more efficiently in order to produce wood alongside growing protected areas. Forests should be felled at a younger age and potentially use 30% (forest strategy), 13% (biodiversity) or 33% (bioeconomy) of the forest area.

Forests the range of different uses therefore seems different depending on the objectives set. What should I choose? What is your priority?

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“It requires choices. Not everything can be promoted at the same time, and in this way painful value choices have been avoided by making three different papers, ”says one of the authors of the study, a specialist in sustainability policy. Jani Lukkarinen About the Finnish Environment Institute.

“Why couldn’t we have even one nature strategy, one corner of which would be the economic use of forests? Why is there a need for pet strategies in each ministry that encourage different directions and then shift responsibility to landowners? ”

Lukkarinen points out that there is now a particularly urgent need for value choices due to international commitments. Finland is committed, for example, to protecting 30% of the EU’s land area, of which 10 percentage points must be strictly protected.

“Often the choices are presented in big,‘ nature versus economy ’. But the choices can be much finer and relate to, for example, continuous education, ”says Lukkarinen.

“Of course, even these choices may mean that not all production targets are met in all years or that the regional distribution of wood production cannot change.”

Read more: Forests are now being torn down for more purposes than they are enough for

Read more: The state’s forests over 120 years of age must be banned from logging, the chairman of the Nature Panel demands: “The state still cuts a lot of its old forests”

Research paper the drastic-looking conservation features are somewhat softened by the definition of forest used by researchers.

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According to the study, Finland has 86 percent of the land area. This means that in addition to forest land, pastures and wastelands are included. The pastures can be, for example, weaker growing rock forests, wooded bogs or shrubbery mountain birches. The idle land is almost or completely devoid of water.

Because wood cannot be produced in such areas, the emphasis is on protection in these areas. In other words, large sections of protection do not have to be made up entirely of well-growing forest land.

“About 10 per cent of such less wooded areas are involved, which means that even taking this into account, protection should increase clearly and also on well-yielding forest land,” Mönkkönen describes the effects of the chosen forest definition.

You can read the research yourself here.

All The strategies explored by Mönkkönen and other researchers are, in one way or another, coming to an end.

The goal of the biodiversity strategy was to safeguard biodiversity in Finland, but the goal was not reached by 2020. The Ministry of the Environment is currently developing a new biodiversity strategy.

The national forest strategy does not take sufficient account of natural capital, as found in the external evaluation. The new strategy should be completed in December.

A consultation on the new bioeconomy strategy has already taken place.

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