According to statistics of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), total costs of silviculture were EUR 211 million in 2017. The amount is slightly higher than in the previous year. Of all work types, pre-commercial thinnings generated the highest costs, i.e. EUR 58 million. The costs of improvement of young stands were EUR 19 million, while EUR 48 million were invested in artificial regeneration and EUR 35 million in soil preparation.
Investments in forest improvement nearly halved from the previous year.
“In total, costs of construction and basic improvement of forest roads and ditch network maintenance totalled EUR 23 million. This decline resulted from decreases in basic improvement of forest roads. The allocation of multi-year projects regarding forest road maintenance determines the year in which each specific road is recorded in statistics”, says Aarre Peltola, senior statistician at Luke.
Felling area totalled 688,000 hectares
On the basis of notifications of forest use, the area treated with fellings was estimated to be 688,000 hectares. Intermediate fellings accounted for 73% of this area. The regeneration felling area was 176,000 hectares. Of this, clearcutting made up 144,000 hectares. With regard to forest regeneration, clearcutting was clearly more common than natural regeneration.
Soil preparation and pre-commercial thinning areas close to the year before
In 2017, the artificial regeneration area decreased by 5% from the previous year to 103,000 hectares. Of this, roughly three quarters were planted and one quarter was seeded. Of the area planted (79,000 hectares), 67% were regenerated for spruce and 28% for pine. Birch accounted for 5% of this area. Forest planting nearly always took place manually. Seeded areas are usually regenerated for pine, and this is mostly done mechanically.
The growing conditions of naturally and artificially regenerated seedling stands can be improved by means of soil preparation.
“In 2017, the soil preparation area was 105,000 hectares, being slightly larger than in the previous year. The most common method was mounding which accounted for two-thirds of the soil preparation area”, Peltola says.
Early and later pre-commercial thinning and improvement of young stands take care of the ability of forests to produce valuable large-sized trees. The total area of early and later pre-commercial thinnings of 146,000 hectares was close to the previous year. It is still carried out by forest workers, as mechanical methods remained under 1%. The area of improvement of young stands totalled 43,000 hectares, showing a decrease of 8% from the year before.
Luke’s statistics of silviculture and forest improvement include work carried out in non-industrial private, forest industries and state owned forests. The statistics do not include work carried out independently by non-industrial private forest owners in their own forests, as it is not recorded in the statistical data collected from forest service providers.