Approximately 30 species of trees are naturally present in Finland. Most of them are deciduous, only four are conifers: Scots pine, Norway spruce, common juniper and European yew (a rare species that only grows on the Åland Islands). Some of the tree species – of conifers, juniper and European yew – often remain bush-like.
The dominating tree species in Finnish forests are spruce, pine, downy birch and silver birch, Finland’s national tree species. These species are common throughout Finland, with the exception of northernmost Lapland and the highest fell areas.
In addition to native tree species, many species that are not indigenous are cultivated in Finland.
Of foreign tree species conifers have particularly interested Finns for a long time, because we have very few native coniferous tree species., whereas areas with a climate similar to ours – North America, East Asia and various parts of Europe – have plenty of conifers that could also be successful in Finland.
Foreign tree species are not significant in timber production but rather as ornamentals.
The focus of research has shifted
The success of foreign tree species in Finland has been studied for more than 130 years, if the first larches planted in state parks are seen as the beginning. Forest researchers have studied the tree species in diverse ways: their cultivation, use and properties alongside the impacts of environmental changes on the success of the species. These studies have laid the foundation for the management, use and protection of forests in Finland.
The most recent studies of the Natural Resources Institute Finland have, for instance, investigated the breeding of special forms of trees as ornamentals and Christmas trees, and the ability of aspens to purify contaminated soil. Another focus area is the adaptation of tree species to climate change.
Picture on top of the page: Erkki Oksanen, Luke.