Young stand management determines the yield from forests

​In Finland, sustainable forest management is based on the idea of renewing forests after regeneration felling. Since the 1800s, the guiding principle in Finnish forest legislation has been prohibiting the destruction of forests.

31.5.2021
Tiina Laine

​Forest owners comply well with the regeneration obligation laid down in Forest Act. However, young stand management is often seen as expenses that does not offer yields in their own lifetime. Saplings a few metres tall may seem insignificant, but in reality, the first ten years determine what kind of wood will be available in the future.

Forest management requires long-term work stretching over generations. What for us is a quarter of a year, often means 25 years for forests. However, there is a burst of development in seedling stands shortly after regeneration. A delay of just one year in young stand management leads to growth losses, lengthening the rotation period of the forest stand and leading to higher costs due to increased worktime consumption. Any way you look at it, delays are bad. The profitability of forest management is based on the idea that trees grow faster and become more valuable compared to their development without management. Forest management should be seen as a chain of measures, each of which affects the following one. For example, poorly performed soil preparation is difficult to compensate for with planted stands, since the seedlings simply do not thrive in unprepared soil.

Young stand management involves removing naturally regenerated unwanted trees and assuring adequate growing space for the remaining trees, accelerating their longitudinal growth and helping them grow sturdier faster. Young stand management is also nature management of commercial forests. For example, if all broadleaved trees are removed at  young stand management, it is difficult to reinsert them later under a closed canopy forest. Young stand management also means leaving protective thickets for animals. In the short term, young stand management does not increase carbon sequestration, but in the long term, it boosts carbon storage. As young stand management steers growth to the most valuable tree trunks, this will later provide material for long-lived wood products. In addition, young stand management reduces the risk of forest damage and helps forests adapt to changing climate conditions. In other words, it helps maintain the vitality of forests.

My own approach is guided by the idea, stemming from my background in the Scouts, of leaving the world a better place for future generations. It’s impossible to say what kind of wood will be in greatest demand 50 years from now. What we do know, however, is that by keeping our forests healthy and ensuring their good growth, we will have greater opportunities to use them in the future than if we neglect forest management. So, even if the tiny saplings no more than a few metres tall seem insignificant, it is extremely important to take care of them. If not for yourself, then for future generations. What could be a better way to leave forests in better condition to future generations than by performing young stand management in time? After all, it’s impossible to compensate for negligent young stand management in later stages of the rotation period.

 

Tiina Laine
Forestry Management Specialist, Metsä Group

Tiina has been working at Metsä Group for slightly over a year. She has previously worked as a researcher at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), and most recently, in the forest management group at the Natural Resources Institute Finland. In her present duties, Tiina participates in disseminating research results widely in the field. She spends her free time in the forest with her family, orienteering or with the Scouts.


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