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Forest nature management increases biodiversity in commercial forests

The sustainable use of forests requires the reconciliation of biodiversity, climate effects and the economy. The nature management of commercial forests can strengthen and increase measures that support the diversity of forest nature and ecosystem services, and reduce water pollution, without jeopardising wood production.

Long-term work for nature conservation has helped, but not enough

Based on long-term monitoring, the development of many structural features important to the diversity of forests has been more positive since nature management became part of forest management in the 1990s. However, the number of endangered forest species has not changed favourably.

Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the factors that led to the endangerment of forest species and the means by which to restore these species. The forest industry's interest in biodiversity protection has also increased. Forest industry companies promote nature management activities by implementing their own diversity programmes and by funding research projects. Many companies strive to exceed the minimum requirements of current legislation and certification.

We have evaluated the current situation of natural management of commercial forests, studied the diversity benefits of different measures, and examined the monitoring of the effectiveness of nature management. More effective measures are needed in commercial activities to support biodiversity, as well as wide-ranging, research-based recommendations for nature management.

Photo: Unsplash / Cam James

The goal is to make nature management a part of standard forest management procedures in Finland

We prepared a synthesis report in 2022 together with Tapio Ltd. to support the consideration of nature management recommendations in the entire field of forest sector operators. The aim was to increase the effectiveness of nature management measures in production forests.

Our goal is that the effects of forest management actions on forest species are routinely evaluated using scientific methods, and that no significant concessions are made regarding the protection of endangered species. The small waters in forest environments and their effects on the Baltic Sea should also be considered comprehensively.

"The effectiveness of nature management in commercial forests can be increased by investing in stand-specific planning and by improving the ecological quality and targeting of measures. Spatial data, such as the moisture index and open forest resource and habitat data, should be widely used to support planning," says Riitta Raatikainen, senior expert for nature management at Metsäkeskus.

Increasing the degree of nature management benefits landowners and the entire ecosystem

It is in the common interest of forest owners and citizens that all recommended actions are carried out in areas used for forestry, and that positive changes in forest biodiversity become permanent. To support this, we produce research data on the effectiveness of nature management and develop new operating models.

Landowners can set the preservation of nature values ​​as a parallel or primary goal to wood production. In addition to voluntary actions, targeted subsidies are needed to strengthen nature management. The implementation of research-based methods that support diversity can be supported, for example, by incentive pays, result-based payment systems, or by paying for the environmental benefits that are produced.

Nature management maintains biodiversity in commercial forests and increases the forests’ vitality, sustainability and resilience. Forest nature offers us various services and benefits, and forests should be used in such a way that future generations can also enjoy them.