Skip to main content

Nationwide benefits of tending of seedling stands were explored in a scenario analysis based on NFI data

According to the National Forest Inventory (NFI12), Finland has about 800,000 hectares of unmanaged seedling stands. Tending treatment (early cleaning and precommercial thinning) is delayed or totally lacking for a variety of reasons. However, tending of seedling stands plays a crucial role in the management of even-aged forest. The measures taken in a young seedling stand will have effects far into the future. 

Timely tending treatment affects harvesting revenues

Luke has explored the effects of tending on wood production and financial results, using an NFI dataset and long-term scenario analysis.  

The studies showed the benefits of active seedling stand management: higher timber yield, higher harvesting revenues, higher yield of larger diameter timber is obtained via thinning, and income is obtained earlier, with earlier thinnings and reduced rotation time. Even a short delay in the timing of tending treatment clearly increases the costs. In nutrient-rich sites, the importance of tending increases even further. In the long term, delays result in growth loss, and in particular, a decrease in the log wood yield. 

According to the nationwide analysis, more active management of existing seedling stands will increase forest management costs by around €560 million, with a parallel increase in revenue of almost €1,700 million, over the next 100 years, compared to current management. In practice, this means a significant increase of up to 34 million cubic meters in log wood output. 

Scenario analysis supports forest planning

The research provides decision support for forest management planning and forest related policymaking. For decades, maintaining forest growth and productivity will affect, for example, favourable forest development and adaptation to climate change. In the new Forestry Incentive Scheme (Metka), the focus will be more on timely seedling stand management, with the aim of ensuring that no new treatment backlogs arise. Nevertheless, the forthcoming Metka system will also support the management of young forest. Under the old Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry (Kemera), support has also been provided for the rehabilitation of young forest, and this has helped manage the worst backlogs. 

The high level of research developed around NFI undertaken by Luke will continue to strengthen the conditions for data-driven decision making. Continually diversifying inventory data and scenario analyses are used as a basis for forest related policymaking, as a basis for creation of regional and national forest programmes, as support for investment decisions in the forest industry and the assessment of forestry sustainability, and for assessing changes in the forest carbon inventory. For example, regional forest programmes in Finland include regional targets for seedling stand management. 

“Active and timely management of seedling stands and young forests makes economic and climatic sense. This is also explained by the forestry industry’s climate roadmap, which was prepared in collaboration with scientists from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).” Forest director Karoliina Niemi, Forest Industry Association. 

Photo: Erkki Oksanen

More information