The Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s action programme helps improve sunny and dry (xerothermic) habitats in commercial forests as well as the status of species dependent on these habitats. The guide and online course prepared in the programme are now publicly available.

The aim of the action programme for the management of sunny and dry slopes is to highlight the importance of xerothermic habitats for biodiversity and to increase the competence of forest operators in their identification and management. The project partners are Tapio Palvelut Oy and Häme University of Applied Sciences.

“The goal of the project is that companies can, more easily and more uniformly, offer forest owners actions that promote biodiversity on sunny and dry slopes and other xerothermic habitats,” explains Tiina Vuoristo, Sustainability Manager at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

The new online course is available to anyone free of charge on the website of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation. The guide to xerothermic habitats can also be found on the same site. The guide and online course will help forest professionals to better identify xerothermic habitats and nature management methods suitable for them. The guide and the online course also spread awareness of the possibilities of voluntary protection.  As part of the project, field training will also be organised for experts working for forest industry companies.

Xerothermic habitats as special locations for biodiversity

Sunny and dry (xerothermic) environments are a broad group of habitats characterised by open, warm, dry and wide-ranging conditions. They host a diverse range species and serve as a habitat for a number of declining and endangered species. Xerothermic habitats are found especially on the slopes of ridges and eskers and in dune forests throughout the country.

On many ridges, sunny and dry slopes suffer from being gradually overgrown with trees and bushes, due to the more efficient prevention of forest fires, for instance. As a result, many species living in sunny and dry habitats are endangered and require active management measures in order to survive.

Of all endangered forest species, 7% are species of sunny and dry forests. However, these habitats account for very little of the total forest area.  By targeting biodiversity measures at xerothermic habitats, the status of a large number of species can be improved in a small forest area.

The species living in xerothermic habitats benefit from the disruption caused by forestry measures. Thinning of trees, making small openings in the environment and breaking up the soil usually play a key role in achieving the goals of managing xerothermic habitats.

Part of the forest sector's long-term biodiversity efforts

Together with the forest sector and other partners, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation has worked to promote the biodiversity of forests for decades. The forest industry’s new action programme for sunny and dry slopes is a continuation of the action programme for the management of groves that was launched in 2021. The significance of groves for biodiversity is particularly large as almost half of the endangered forest species live in groves.

Both action programmes are part of the Forest Environment Programme launched in 2016. The goal of the Forest Environment Programme is to further develop the forest industry’s actions in forest-related biodiversity and environment issues and increase active and open communications. The actions and lessons learned from the programmes will also be used in the biodiversity efforts of the entire wood-processing industry and in the biodiversity roadmap to be published in the autumn of 2023.

Check out our guide and online course on sunny and dry habitats here (in Finnish).