News Environment, Forestry, Statistic

At the beginning of 2019, Finland had a total of 2.88 million hectares of protected forest land and poorly productive forest land. This area consists of forests in statutory protected areas (2.42 million hectares) and biodiversity conservation sites in commercial forests (0.47 million hectares). Compared with the previous statistics compiled in 2016, the area of protected forest land and poorly productive forest land increased from 12% to 13%, which can largely be explained by the increase in the area of biodiversity conservation sites in commercial forests. The area of strictly protected forest land without any forestry measures totalled 1.21 million hectares, accounting for 6% of the total area of forest land. There are great regional differences in the level of forest protection, with the majority of protected forests in forest land and poorly productive forest land, nearly 80%, being located in Northern Finland.

“In the forest protection statistics ‘forest’ means the area of forest land and poorly productive forest land, which together form an area covered by trees, i.e. a forest. In 2019, 1.7 million hectares of protected forests were located in forest land and 1.2 million hectares in poorly productive forest land. The forest protection statistics examine the development of forests in statutory protected areas and biodiversity conservation sites in commercial forests located in forest land and poorly productive forest land”, says Esa Ylitalo, Senior Statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

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The majority of Finland’s strictly protected forests are located at nature conservation sites established on the basis of the Nature Conservation Act, in areas reserved for nature conservation sites in conservation programmes and in wilderness reserves. No forestry measures are carried out in these areas. At the beginning of 2019, the total area of these forests was 2.2 million hectares, comprising 10% of the total area of forest land and poorly productive forest land. The area of strictly protected forest land totalled 1.2 million hectares, accounting for 6% of the total area of forest land.

“In addition to forests in statutory protected areas and biodiversity conservation sites in commercial forests, forests supporting the protection of nature values in restricted forestry use, covered 0.4 million hectares at the beginning of 2019. These are not classified as protected forests in the statistics”, Ylitalo says.

Photo: Erkki Oksanen

Protected forests mainly located in Northern Finland

The majority of protected forest in forest land and poorly productive forest land, nearly 80%, are located in the Northern Finland (Northern Ostrobothina, Kainuu and Lapland), where their area totals 2.3 million hectares, or 20% of the total area of forest land in the region. In Southern Finland, protected forests covered 0.6 million hectares, comprising 5% of the total area of forests. Of the protected forests in Northern Finland, forest land covered 1.2 million hectares (10%). In Southern Finland, the corresponding area was 0.5 million hectares (4%).

The area of forest land and poorly productive forest land, included in strictly protected areas, totalled 1.9 million hectares (17% of the forest area) in Northern Finland and 0.4 million hectares (3%) in Southern Finland. Of these areas, forest land covered 0.9 million hectares (8%) in the north and 0.3 million hectares (3%) in the south.

“Some 85% of protected forest land and poorly productive forest land are located in state-owned land The relative significance of protected areas in non-industrial private forests increases towards the south”, Ylitalo says.

Protected areas of forests increased slightly

Compared with the previous statistics compiled in 2016, the protected area in forest land and poorly productive forest land increased from 12% to 13% in the whole of Finland. In Northern Finland, the corresponding area increased from 19% to 20%, while it remained at 5% in Southern Finland.

Compared with the previous statistics, the area of forest land completely outside the scope of forestry activities increased from 16% to 17% of Northern Finland. The corresponding proportion has remained unchanged in Southern Finland (3%) and in the whole country (10%).