“The nature value of forests is very important to us, and we try to take this into account in all forest management. A forest owner can do many simple things to safeguard the nature values of commercial forests. In addition to surplus retention trees, we leave high biodiversity stumps in our forests, as well as protective thickets for animals and wide buffer zones around forest ponds. We also strive to retain diverse tree species,” says Mikko Partanen.

As well as these measures, the brothers found it natural to seek FSC certification for their forest estate which covers roughly 100 hectares. They had already obtained PEFC certification. The forests are in Vieremä, their childhood region, which the brothers left a couple decades ago. During holidays, they still visit the region and their family and often spend time in the forest then.

The Partanen brothers’ forest partnership is a member benefit customer of Metsä Group. “After reading about Metsä Group’s FSC nature site service, I contacted my forest specialist, Mikko Huotari, who began to look into ways to obtain FSC certification for our forests.”

Five per cent must be protected

For a forest estate to be certified under FSC, at least five per cent of it must be permanently excluded from forestry. “The Partanens have a forest plan in place, which accelerated the process,” says Huotari.

“To determine whether there were enough sites that could be protected and excluded from forestry, I made a field survey. I found relatively wide buffer zones around forest ponds, as well as stands of scrub land and waste land, which will be protected permanently in the future. These sites were added to the forest plan. In addition, the plan now recommends continuous cover forestry for a few peatland stands.”

Since the Partanens’ forests did not have enough sites that met the FSC requirements for protection, the brothers opted for the FSC nature site service. Otherwise, they would have had to protect ordinary commercial forest to meet the five per cent protection requirement.

“Metsä Group makes valuable nature sites available to its contract customers free of charge so that forest owners do not need to protect their commercial forests. This ensures that the protection measures target genuinely valuable nature sites. Additionally, Metsä Group aims to create large continuous areas of the sites it leases to further increase their nature value,” explains Huotari.

Guaranteed demand for FSC-certified wood

The pre-evaluation required for FSC certification found that the Partanens’ forests and the nature sites offered to them met the requirements for FSC certification. The forests were FSC certified in November, and the nature sites are now also included in the forest plan visible in Metsäverkko.

As Huotari points out, forest owners who sell wood from FSC-certified forests to Metsä Group receive a slightly higher price for the wood. “More and more customers want their wood to come from FSC-certified forests, because this is gaining more importance in the market for end products. Demand now exceeds supply, so there is a guaranteed market for FSC wood.”

No need to compromise on financial yield

“For us, higher demand is not all that important,” says Mikko Partanen. “What we value most is safeguarding diverse nature values. However, it does not mean we need to compromise a whole lot on the forests’ financial yield – something that other forest owners might also find interesting. This new certification scheme guides us in the direction we want. The recently protected sites do not have any considerable financial significance.”

The brothers’ grandfather joined Metsäliitto Cooperative in the late 1940s, and since then, the membership has been transferred from generation to generation. “Matias and I have been forest owners for six years or so, and we consider it our responsibility to keep the forests in good condition, paying special attention to nature management. In the long term, we believe it is the best solution instead of maximising profit alone.”

This article was originally published in issue 1/2022 of Metsä Group’s Viesti magazine.
Text: Sirkku Vanhatalo
Photo: Seppo Samuli
Logo licence of Metsäliitto Cooperative’s FSC group certificate: FSC-C111942