Towards healthier and more biodiverse forests
Remember the news from a few years back about bilberry decreasing in numbers? The new biodiversity roadmap, released last week by the Finnish Forest Industries Federation and the Finnish Sawmills Association, proves that this is not actually the case. The roadmap is based on an extensive research project that surveyed the current state and future development of forest biodiversity as well as the impact of key actions for biodiversity on our threatened forest species.
The project represents groundbreaking research at a global scale. In addition to the current state and future development of forest nature, it also examines opportunities provided by technology in monitoring biodiversity in forests.
The roadmap brings great news to forest owners and the entire forest sector: The efforts taken since the 1990s to promote biodiversity in forests has yielded good results. In southern Finland, the volume of broad-leaved trees has almost doubled. Aspen, which is important for biodiversity, has doubled its volume.
The impact of the voluntary forest certification (PEFC and FSC), introduced in Finland at the turn of the millennium, can be clearly seen in the study. It has considerably increased the numbers of living trees spared at felling sites. At the same time, the amount of dead trees has also nearly doubled in southern Finland.
The model extending until the year 2050 shows that the positive development will continue. The early stages of the development is heavily promoted by the new FSC and PEFC forest management standards that entered into force this year. Of course, there is also room for improvement. Wetland species, for example, have declined as the bogs drained in the last century continue to dry up and the conditions are no longer suitable for wetland species.
Great work has been carried out in Finland, and it is important that we continue our efforts and develop them even further. The biodiversity of Finnish forests will continue to rely on native tree species and everyday choices whose impact is proven by research:
- Increasing the amount of broad-leaved trees and mixed forests diversifies forest species and helps forests withstand various types of damage and adapt to climate change.
- Increasing the quantity and quality of dead wood will benefit thousands of species that are dependent on dead wood. It is important to leave existing dead wood in the forests.
- Valuable habitats are concentrations of biodiversity, the safeguarding of which maintains their diverse species. These include brooks and springs.
- In terms of individual habitats, herb-rich forests and sun-lit forests are particularly important. These make up only a couple of per cent of our total forest area but house more than half of our threatened forest species. These types of forests often need active management.
Biodiversity efforts must be fair not only to nature but to forest owners and the entire forest sector. The wood processing industry produces numerous products that are part of people's everyday lives, internationally and domestically. The availability of wood must be secured in conjunction with safeguarding biodiversity. That is why we must tend to the growth of the forests throughout their rotation period.