Metsä Group achieved its target purchase volume for the first part of the year as planned. The purchase volume increased year-on-year mainly due to the increased demand for wood at the Kemi bioproduct mill. Our purchasing operations will remain active, and our focus this autumn will be on thinning sites available for summer harvesting, birch logs and roundwood from delivery sales.
In the spring and summer, a slowdown was seen in the forest industry’s end-product market. This reduced Metsä Group’s wood deliveries and, to some extent, harvesting volumes. However, the long-term employment outlook for our harvesting and transport contractors looks reasonable, following the start-up of the Kemi mill. The Baltic wood market is balanced. The roadside prices for overbark wood are currently lower in the Baltics than in Finland.
In Finland, we reduced the diameter of harvested pulpwood from six to five centimetres in new and old standing and delivery sales. The new diameter has been in use since 17 August. The change applies to both wood-grade and log-priced trade and will remain in force for a fixed term until the end of the year.
The volume of roundwood from a typical felling site will increase by a few per cent, with a positive impact on forest owners’ income from wood trade. Now is a good time to carry out thinning trade and take advantage of the fixed-term reduction in diameter.
More than 2,100 new members have joined Metsäliitto Cooperative this year, indicating that we are doing the right thing. Our record customer satisfaction is another indication of this. Our services are in good demand, and their sales have increased from last year.
The voluntary Metsä Group Plus forest management model adopted in June has proved popular. The model pays more attention to biodiversity and forest nature than current certification systems, and forest owners receive a bonus for employing it.
In practice, the adoption of the Metsä Group Plus model can be seen in more retention trees, high biodiversity stumps and protective thickets on felling sites, and in wider buffer zones around waterbodies. Burnt retention trees are another visible feature. I warmly recommend the new operating model.
The new Government Programme contains several positive items: forest use will not be restricted; appropriate and timely forest management will be emphasised; proactive influencing in EU matters will be intensified; protection measures will be clearly focused; and the protection of property will be strengthened. The EU Deforestation Regulation, which came into force in June, mainly implies an additional reporting obligation in Finland but does not influence forest management.
Climate change increases the risk of forest damage, meaning we must continue to improve our preparations for damage. Our application identifying forest damage in near real time has now been launched through Metsäverkko. I encourage everyone to acquaint themselves with the new map layer.
On the whole, I believe Finland needs a national climate change adaptation strategy for forests. Preparations and research have been carried out, but we must leave no stone unturned to avoid the kind of forest damage seen in Central Europe and Canada and to ensure Finnish forests remain vibrant 50 years into the future.
Sustainability lies at the heart of everything we do, and we are now launching a competition for our owner-members to find new ideas for diversifying the use of commercial forests, as well as for improving their biodiversity, climate resilience, vitality and water protection. Please contribute your ideas!