The measures carried out in the forest should be always planned with a long-term perspective. A well-managed forest is not only a pleasure to behold, but a source of income, even for future generations.
There is plenty to do in all seasons. Thinning, for example, is performed almost year-round, depending on when various sections of the forest are ready for harvesting.
"One of the factors that impacts the harvesting time is weather. In terms of harvesting, a dry summer is better than a frost-free, mild winter," says Tauno Tuuppa, a Forest Specialist at Metsä Group.
The focus in the spring on planting the seedlings
"Traditionally, most of the seedlings of coniferous trees are planted in the spring or early summer. But you can plant seedlings starting from the frost melting all the way to the autumn, as long as you account for the soil, tree species and the seedlings' cultivation method," says Tuuppa.
In the spring, you should at least map out the seedling stands that need to be managed in the summer. The best time for this is the middle of summer, because that is when the broadleaved trees put out the least amount of shoots. This means that the stumps of felled trees put out less shoots to compete with the seedlings.
An early clearing is the first clearing to be carried out in a seedling stand. Depending on the soil, it is carried out roughly 4–8 years after the seedlings have been planted. It is important to carry out the clearing on time, to ensure that the seedlings get enough light and room to grow properly. This is when the seedling stand will be cleared of any broadleaved trees disrupting its growth.
Tending seedling stands impacts future profits
Before seedlings grow into sturdy log wood that provides a source of income to their owners, their habitat needs to be tended quite a few times.
The second clearing, or thinning, of a seedling stand is carried out 10–20 years after the planting. The purpose is to improve the quality of the cultivated stands. This happens by removing any poor seedlings and any broadleaved trees competing with the seedlings for growing space.
"It is important to time the thinning correctly. If the broadleaved trees grow too big, they will hamper the growth of the coniferous trees. This, in turn, will have a direct impact on the forest owner's future profits, in both the initial thinning and the subsequent harvesting. A well-managed seedling stand also grows more quickly," says Tuuppa.
Specialist will help estimate the correct time for thinnings
Depending on site and the tree species, the initial thinning takes place 25–40 years after the planting. It needs to be done before the tree tops have a chance to contract as a result of the competition. Initial thinning ensures that the trees grow into proper log wood.
Depending on the growth location, tree species and the forest owner's goals, another thinning or two will also be carried out between the initial thinning and the regeneration of the entire stand. The first one of these is often carried out some 15–25 years after the initial thinning.
"The correct time for this should be estimated with a specialist. It depends on both previous management measures and the forest owner's financial goals," says Tuuppa.
Forest management aims to ensure that around 10 per cent of the trees in any stand are broadleaved trees. Mixed forests – forests with several species of trees – are more sustainable and biodiverse than forests consisting of a single species of tree. They are also less susceptible to forest damage, such as storm, snow, wind or insect damage.
A clearing saw fits a forest owner's hand
In the autumn, the focus lies on planning the harvesting and the measures related to it, such as the preliminary clearing.
Preliminary clearing is a stage of work preceding harvesting during which you remove any undergrowth – in other words, trees that are too small to be sold or that obstruct visibility during harvesting and impede soil preparation.
"A clearing saw is a forest owner's most important tool. Preliminary clearing is a perfect example of something you can do on your own," says Tuuppa.
The time for winter harvesting is at hand when the ground freezes. The work must be planned with one eye on weather forecasts. The fields must be frozen to carry the weight of the harvesters.
This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2020–2021. Read the whole article.