In terms of nature’s biodiversity, Finland is quite a harsh land. There is only a small amount of tree species that grow here natively: four conifer and 27 deciduous species.
Finland belongs to the boreal zone, which has about a quarter of the earth's forest area, one-third of the forest resources and half of the conifers. It is therefore not surprising that the most important Finnish native – or indigenous – tree species are pine, spruce, birch, aspen and alder. A characteristic feature of Finnish forests is that even natively they tend to grow as a one-species forest, such as pines on dry heaths. The share of deciduous trees is about one-fifth of Finland's total volume of growing stock, and they usually grow in mixed forest.
Native tree species are important to the ecosystem and biodiversity. About half of the species found in Finland is forest species, as they are adapted to using Finnish trees – that have grown here for thousands of years – as nutriment, for nesting or breeding ground.
A common thought is that forestry is balancing between economic productivity and biodiversity. However, this is not the case, since most of the Finnish forest species live normally in commercial forests.
Forest renewal crystallises sustainability
Renewal of forests with native trees is important because it ensures the preservation of the species’ habitats. According to the forest management guidelines, less common types of wood such as precious hardwood trees are saved. A sure way to renew forests is by planting seedlings. Metsä Group plants four seedlings for every harvested tree which ensures that there will be forests for future generations as well.
From where do the seedlings come from? From domestic nurseries. For example in Finland, their operations, and health and quality of the seedlings are supervised by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. Since the Finnish tree species have grown in Finland for thousands of years, the species have adapted to a particular climatic growth area. So if a tree is planted even two hundred kilometres too north, it continues to grow later than the local trees, and the southern tree can get bitten by frost. This exposes the trees to destruction.
Diversity is preserved with certification and cooperation with WWF Finland
The Finnish forest law is the foundation for biodiversity in Finland. The symbol of biodiversity for the markets is certification. Forest certification, for example, requires that a certain amount of saving trees are left to the logging site to form habitats for species who live on dead and decaying wood. At Metsä Group, 84% of used wood is certified.
Metsä Group promotes forest biodiversity with WWF Finland with management of herb-rich forests and sunlit habitats, and burning retention trees. Herb-rich forests and sunlit habitats are important because two-thirds of Finland's endangered forest species use them as the primary habitat. Some rare species, in turn, favour charred trees, which is why burning increases diversity. Therefore forest management has a significant role in safeguarding the diversity – also according to WWF Finland. WWF Finland’s Secretary General Liisa Rohweder commented in Metsä Group's Sustainability Report as follows:
"By cooperating with Metsä Group, we get to influence the forestry practices, which play a key role in safeguarding the biodiversity values of for example, the sunlit habitats and herb-rich forests."
Metsä Group is also taking part in WWF's Forest Challenge, where people are invited to explore WWF's Forest Management Guide. The guide contains the most important methods in commercial forest management. The guide is a useful tool for Metsä Group when planning harvesting and nature management measures together with forest-owners.