Across all environmental issues related to the manufacture of paper-based products in North America, the harvesting of trees for wood fiber is arguably the most familiar, yet also the most misunderstood. Decades of misguided marketing messages that suggest using less paper protects forests along with deliberate anti-paper campaigns by environmental groups that twist scientific facts to suit their own agendas have left many feeling guilty for using products that are inherently sustainable. They are made from a renewable resource, are recyclable and are among the most recycled products in the world, and are manufactured using a high level of renewable energy – all key elements in a circular economy. In the U.S., total forest area increased by 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, which averages out to the equivalent of around 1,200 NFL football fields every day. Canada’s total forest area remained relatively stable over the 30-year assessment period at approximately 857 million acres. Approximately 59% of forestlands in North America has long-term forest management plans.
Biodiversity is not only a question of nature’s wellbeing, but also of economics – especially for the bioeconomy business. But how can it be measured, and what might bracket fungi and ospreys tell us about the condition of our forests?
Last autumn, researchers with paper bags in their hands, bent over, intently examining samples of bracket fungi could be spotted by various creatures in the forests of Southern Finland and Kainuu. Some human berry-pickers may have spotted them, too. Occasionally the researchers were joined by Reijo Penttilä of the Natural Resources Institute Finland. Penttilä leads a bracket fungus transplantation project and has been researching bracket fungi for over 30 years.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki and Luke completed a transplantation feasibility study using ten species over a period of nearly ten years. The results were so promising that a broader research project started last year to ensure the survival of endangered bracket fungi species. The transplantation project is being carried out by the National Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the University of Helsinki, in partnership with UPM, Metsähallitus and the City of Helsinki.
“There are over 400 known species of bracket fungi in Europe. We have 250 here in Finland, and 41% of them are endangered or in need of monitoring. For this reason, bracket fungi are being transplanted onto dead wood in the forests of Southern Finland, where these species are most endangered,” explains Penttilä.
Fungi fight back
Fruiting bodies of 23 endangered species of bracket fungi were collected from the forests of Southern Finland and Kainuu. Next August and September, wooden plugs will be used to inoculate trees in 10–20 different forest areas with bracket fungus mycelium. The endangered species will be transplanted into dead wood that has fallen naturally, and in some areas, into felled brushwood.
The goal is for the transplanted species to begin producing fruiting bodies that will release spores, allowing the species to spread naturally into nearby dead wood. The forest areas will be selected in consultation with UPM, Metsähallitus and the City of Helsinki.
“Bracket fungi are only one group of species, and no single method is enough to ensure the world’s biodiversity. However, bracket fungi are an important group — they are used as indicator species to measure forest biodiversity, and their role in decomposition creates the conditions necessary for the occurrence of many other species. In efforts to support biodiversity, it’s important to help different species not only for their own sake, but also for the bigger picture,” Penttilä explains.
Bird’s eye view
Ornithologist Juhani Koivu has explored biodiversity from a different perspective – a bird’s-eye view – ever since he was a little boy. Koivu is the founder of the globally recognised Finnish Osprey Foundation.
Based at the Osprey Foundation’s conservation centre in Kangasala, Koivu explains that the first ospreys are just returning to the local fishing waters from their migratory journey to Africa.
“They are phenomenal navigators and live in the same nest their entire lives. Our tracking has shown that they are able to return to the exact same nest in Utsjoki – down to the very centimetre – from thousands of kilometres away in South Africa, for example. Ospreys also navigate to familiar places to feed. One particular osprey always stops for a week to fuel up at the same lake in Ukraine while migrating,” Koivu describes.
more at: https://www.upm.com/news-and-stories/articles/2019/05/the-win-win-benefits-of-biodiversity/