One of my earliest memories of the forest is skiing there with my grandfather. It was our shared hobby and in the winter we did it almost every day.
Mother sometimes worried about our expeditions. “What if something happens to you?” she asked my grandfather. He promised her: “Katri and I have agreed that if something goes wrong, she will just turn around and ski back along the same tracks.”
My grandfather was a Second World War veteran. His family had to leave their home in the south-east corner of Finland, when it ended up on the Russian side of the border. After the war, my grandfather decided to buy a new farm in Orimattila, southern Finland. That was where he made a new start. He treated the forest like a bank, as many others of his generation did. They felled trees when they needed money or wood for buildings.
A managed forest keeps its value
I sometimes wonder if I would have opted for the forest sector without this family background, but I have always enjoyed natural sciences. I first did a bachelor’s degree in forestry and then went on to a master’s in natural resource management. I have been working at Metsä Group ever since I graduated. At the moment, I work as Metsä Fibre’s Marketing Manager.
As my studies advanced, we started looking after the forests on my home farm more systematically. Trees do not last forever. Just as an apartment needs a make-over from time to time to keep its value, forests have to be managed to stay healthy and grow well.
We were reminded of this when we found spruce bark beetles in our forest. They are especially dangerous in spruce forests. We are now renewing the damaged area.
Forestry on nature’s own terms
Finland always manages its forests on nature’s own terms. When we felled an area on my home farm to renew it, we planted seedlings that suited the soil instead of choosing the tree species that a nearby production unit uses.
It is important to me that every felled tree is put to good use and in ways that replace fossil raw materials. It means a lot to me that I work in a company that uses valuable wood sustainably and is always looking for new uses for it.
Physical and mental nourishment
At best, forest management is therapy. When I am cleaning a seedling stand, it is nice to see the results of my work instantly. Forest cleaning is one of the main ways of promoting future growth, but it is also a chance to safeguard forest biodiversity. If a deciduous tree like a rowan is not harming the seedlings, I leave it there to provide protection and nutrition to birds and animals.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been going berry and mushroom picking with my mother. The best thing each year is picking blueberries and chanterelles. A walk in the forest calms you down and refreshes you. After a day in front of the computer, it also feels like it improves your posture.
My mother took over the home farm from her father more than 40 years ago. There will be another handover at some point, but I am not sure how we will do it. Perhaps I will set up a forest partnership with my siblings. We all want the farm to stay in the family, so that the life’s work of my grandfather will live on.
Marketing Manager, Metsä Fibre
This article was originally published in Timber Magazine issue 2023.