Finland was one of the first countries to achieve endorsement of its national forest certification system back in 2000, and today most of Finland’s forests are PEFC-certified. Recognizing the scale of Finnish forest sector, Ben and Fabienne Sinclair, responsible for marketing, travelled out to meet with the country’s numerous stakeholders. “This visit was an excellent opportunity for us to get an update, and I am very pleased with the strong progress that PEFC is making,” said Antti Sahi, Secretary General of MTK, which represents farmers, forest owners and rural entrepreneurs in Finland.
Broadleaves trees improve forest growth and yield and increase the diversity of forest species. Biodiversity helps forests to face the changing climate conditions and thrive.
“If we achieve this goal, one fifth of all trees on sites that accommodate birch will be broadleaves. The increased amount will strengthen both tree species and many of other forest species and improve forests’ capacity to endure adverse weather conditions and insect damage caused by climate change,” says Risto Laaksonen, UPM’s Director, Forestry.
According to Laaksonen, increasing the share of broadleaves trees also increases coniferous trees’ strength to grow, at least according to current knowledge. At the same time, the competition within this more diverse group of species will become more intense. This brings balance to the ecosystem and reduces the risk that one species will overpower the others and cause damage.
The number of broadleaves trees will be increased by changing the guidelines for sapling stand management and forest thinning. UPM’s own nursery in Joroinen has been preparing for this change – especially the increase in silver birch sapling production – for several years. In addition to birch, the nursery has been growing a small amount oak and black alder saplings to increase the biodiversity of UPM’s forests.
The guidelines for forest thinning also play a key role, because they determine the volume of tree species allowed to grow in UPM’s forests. In the future, the guidelines will emphasise measures taken on sites with the best growing conditions for broadleaves trees. The nursery and UPM’s own forests have an important role in the development of forest management and personnel training.
A healthy and diverse forest guarantees high-quality wood raw material for wood-based products. This also improves the forest’s biodiversity and the state of forest nature.
According to Laaksonen, smart species decisions ensure a healthy foundation for future bioeconomy. Most species provide opportunities to expand the selection of wood-based products and thriving mixed forests are efficient carbon sinks, which are essential to combat against climate change.
“The environmental guidelines for forests dominated by conifers have previously emphasised the importance of small broadleaves tree populations as retention trees and deadwood, for example. Now the role of broadleaves trees has become crucial as we adapt to a future with changing natural conditions,” Laaksonen highlights.
UPM is the first forest company in the world to set itself the target of being verified for improving the state of forest nature in its own forests in Finland by 2030. Increasing the number of broadleaves trees in its forests promotes this goal.