Eternal renewal of forests

At UPM, we have zero tolerance for deforestration and have strict processes in place to ensure that forests always grow more than they are used. In the North, commercial forests have a growth cycle of between 60 to 100 years, so the forests we plant today will be harvested by our children and our children’s children.

Jue Wang, a Senior Environmental Specialist with UPM Specialty Papers, says that there is a false belief that using paper and pulp drive deforestation. The key element to commercial forestry is imitating how natural forests grow, she adds: “We analyse the differences and try to mimic them, such as increasing the share of broadleaf trees and leaving deadwood as a habitat for insects. This way, forests can be healthier and more resilient to the environment.”

Forest planning generally covers a period of ten years and defines the activity proposed for the area each year. “Through skilled management, the trees can better adapt to climate change and eventually produce a better quality of wood. It’s not about getting the most trees, but to obtain the healthiest forests in the long term,” says Wang,

So how does UPM ensure forest regeneration?

Planting a new forest
When a forest area is harvested, the forest is prepared for new growth. Seedlings are planted to start the growth of a new forest in the harvested area.

Good quality seedlings are essential for successful forest regeneration, which is why UPM has operated its own seedling nursery in Joroinen, Finland since the 1980s. The origin and quality of the seeds are the basis for seedling production, so UPM only uses domestic seeds and seedlings.

In addition to cultivating seedlings, large amounts of seeds are required in forest sowing. UPM obtains many of these from its own seed orchards, as well as purchasing them from other producers. Seeds are also collected from the highest-quality tree stands in the company’s own forests.

“Before planting a new forest, you must prepare the soil to improve seed germination and to secure the growing conditions for seedlings. And then during the final harvesting, experts will mark the rare trees that must be retained to help the next generation and to protect biodiversity,” explains Wang, adding that UPM plants 50 million trees a year, which is far more than it cuts.
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