In 2017, a total of 63 million cubic metres of roundwood was harvested for use by the forest industries from Finnish forests, while nine million cubic metres of roundwood was processed into wood chips or fuelwood. According to the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the quantity exceeded the previous year’s felling volume by two million cubic metres and was the highest ever recorded.
The total volume of roundwood felled for the production of forest industry products or exports was 63.3 million cubic metres. Of that, 43 per cent were logs and 57 per cent was pulpwood. The total quantity increased from the previous year by 1.1 million cubic metres, or two per cent. The industrial roundwood removals exceeded the annual average of the previous ten-year period by nine million cubic metres, or 17 per cent.
A total of 9.2 million cubic metres of roundwood was felled to be used as wood chips in heat and power plants or as fuelwood in detached houses. The volume of stemwood processed into wood chips remained at the previous year’s level. However, during the 2016–2017 heating period, 1.1 million cubic metres more of roundwood was consumed in the form of smallwood, logwood and wood chips. In addition to roundwood, 2.4 million cubic metres of logging residue and stumps were also harvested from the forests in 2017.
In 2017, the roundwood removals amounted to 86 per cent of the sustainable felling potential
In recent years, the usage volumes of Finnish wood have been steadily increasing, and there are also several investment plans, even new ones. Matching the harvesting operations and the carbon stocks and carbon sinks of forests with other ecosystem services of the forests has increased the public debate on forest utilisation.
“According to Luke, the updated maximum sustainable stemwood felling potential of Finnish forests is now almost 85 million cubic metres of logs, pulpwood and energy wood in whole country. According to roundwood removal statistics, 86 per cent of this potential was used in 2017,” says senior statistician Jukka Torvelainen at Luke.
According to him, the most recent regional estimates of felling potential were calculated on the basis of measurements made in 2009–2013 for the National Forest Inventory. The estimate takes into account the technical and economic feasibility of harvesting operations, as well as the various restrictions on forest utilisation, such as preservation decisions.
The figures estimated for the ten-year period of 2011–2020 show that there are considerable regional variations in the felling volumes.
“The 2017 felling volumes exceeded the sustainable felling potential in Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso, South Karelia and Pohjois-Savo. However, sustainability should be analysed for a period longer than one year. Even major felling operations for a few years are not critical. The sustainability of wood production is only compromised if the average felling volumes during the whole period exceed the sustainability felling potential for the period,” Torvelainen says.
Roundwood drain increased to over 87 million cubic metres
The drain of growing stock is arrived at by adding to the total felling volume the roundwood left in the forests in connection with felling and the unused natural deadwood. In 2017, these two items totalled 15 million cubic metres, meaning that the total drain amounted to over 87 million cubic metres. That was two per cent more than in the previous year.
“The latest surveys indicate that there is approximately 2,200 million cubic metres of roundwood on land available for wood production. The annual increase of growing stock in our forests is approximately 110 million cubic metres, which means that the quantity of roundwood on land available for wood production increased last year by more than 20 million cubic metres in spite of record-high felling volumes,” Torvelainen continues.
Background to the statistics
Luke calculates the roundwood harvesting volume on the basis of its other statistics. The volumes of logs and pulpwood intended for use by the forest industry or for exports, as well as the volumes of stemwood processed for wood chips for heat and power plants are obtained from the annual wood harvesting statistics. The most recent data regarding stemwood used for heating detached houses concerns the heating season of 2016–2017, while the data regarding wood sawn for private use by the forest owners is from 2010.