The Finnish Forest Industries Federation and the Finnish Sawmills Association, together with the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, the University of Eastern Finland, Metsäteho Oy and Tapio Palvelut Oy, are starting a research project to determine the short and long-term effects of the forest sector’s biodiversity work. The information gained from the study will be utilised in the industry’s biodiversity road map.

For a quarter of a century, the wood processing industry has been working together with forest owners to prevent the loss of biodiversity. Now, the industry is starting an extensive research project that aims to verify the impacts of the biodiversity work on a scientific basis and to model the future evolution of forest biodiversity. This evolution is assessed in both the short and long term, all the way up to year 2100.

The project will be completed next summer and several partial results will be published along the way. Stakeholders are also encouraged to participate.

- It’s important to evaluate the impact of our diversity work and to assess whether our actions have taken us in the right direction. At the same time, we gain knowledge on how to do our part in reaching national and EU-set biodiversity goals, says Paula Lehtomäki, Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

The study is carried out by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (Luke) and the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the Academy of Finland-funded Unite flagship. Luke evaluates the present state of biodiversity and models its future development paths. Meanwhile, the University of Eastern Finland, together with Metsäteho, investigates whether there is a need to develop new technologies to measure biodiversity.

- As the climate and nature change, we’ll need fact-based decision-making, cross-generation thinking and a broad toolkit to secure biodiversity. The work to strengthen biodiversity as part of wood procurement is essential for the forest sector, adds Tino Aalto, Managing Director of the Finnish Sawmills Association.

Towards more biodiverse forests

The Finnish foresty model is based on cultivating local tree species in their natural habitat. These natural tree species are the foundation of our forest biodiversity. Another reason for the present state of forest biodiversity is the long history of forest use. During the last 25 years, the management of commercial forests has been developed systematically and biodiversity monitoring has been improved.

Saving retention trees and decaying wood as well as protective belts of water systems are examples of nature management practices that have become part of everyday nature management. Forest certification has established biodiversity action as part of forest management and use. The voluntary METSO forest biodiversity programme has also been a success story.

- We acknowledge our responsibility as significant land users. We believe that in the future we’ll continue telling even more positive news when it comes to biodiversity, because biodiverse forests that are viable and growing well are also the lifeline of the Finnish wood processing industry, Lehtomäki underlines.

- It’s important to collaborate with the different parties. In this project, the whole wood processing industry together with the researchers is looking for solutions to one of the great challenges of our time, Aalto concludes.