Regenerative forestry

Our goal is to ensure that Finnish forest assets transfer in a more vibrant, diverse and climate resilient condition from one generation and owner to the next. Regenerative forestry means boosting economic growth and natural assets side by side.

On this page, we present the principles of regenerative forestry.

The forest economy produces naturally occurring tree species

Spruce, pine, silver birch, white birch and aspen, which spread to Finland after the ice age, are grown as industrial trees.

In their natural habitats and areas of distribution, trees live in interaction with other species. Each tree species has a significant amount of other species that are either directly or indirectly dependent on it. As the tree ages, the species that are dependent on individual trees change.

Using naturally occurring tree species in the forest industry sets a high baseline for the presence of species that would naturally occur in the area.

Target species: Associated species of spruce, pine, birch and aspen: decay organisms of wood forest litter, species living on tree trunks, species that feed on tree leaves, root fungi and other associated fungi species.

Increasing the diversity of tree species in forests

Aiming for mixed forests with multiple tree species promotes the diversity of tree species in forests. Mixed cultivation of spruce and pine and increasing the share of birch in coniferous forests are among our actions and goals for suitable forest types.

The approximately 25 tree species that do not belong to our most common tree species are completely excluded from our wood purchasing. This includes aspen with a diameter breast height of more than 40 centimetres. Tree species completely excluded from all commercial use include great sallow, grey alder, black alder, bird cherry, rowan and deciduous trees.

Target species: Associated species specialising in tree species. Birds, mammals and other species that favour mixed forests. 

Increasing the number of old trees

Trees that are older than their normal regeneration age are considered old trees. They will not be harvested, and the number of old trees in a forest will naturally increase over time through retention trees. Since they have mainly been in commercial use in the past, there will also be more old trees in valuable habitats, littoral forests and protected sites. Increasing the number of old trees applies to all tree species. Old trees will eventually provide decaying wood to the forest.

Target species: Species occurring in old living trees, species living in the decaying parts of living trees.

Increasing the diversity and amount of decaying wood

Different species are dependent on different types of decaying wood. The decaying wood assets of commercial forests include sawn stumps, crown wood (logging residue), natural decaying wood of a low diameter, the decaying parts of living trees and various types of decaying trunk wood.

The amount of decaying trunk wood is being increased through various measures. Sawn stumps will not be used as energy wood. The energy use of crown wood will include leaving some of the logging residue in the forest.

On the broader landscape perspective, the goal is to increase the diversity of decaying wood, achieve a natural diversity of decaying wood types, and create concentrations of decaying wood. Protection sites excluded from forest management have mainly been in commercial use in the past. The goal for these sites is to increase the amount of natural decaying wood over time.

Target species: Species dependent on various types of trees and decaying wood, and their associated species. 

Increasing the structural diversity of forest stands

The structural characteristics of forest stands include the stratification and density variations of trees. Retention trees, both individually and in groups, as well as protective thickets will increase the structural diversity of forests. The diversification of forest management methods and continuous cover management methods increase the diversity of forest structures and microclimate conditions at the stand level, increasing the combinations of characteristics required by various species.

Target species: The diversity of forests’ structural characteristics benefits birds, mammals and other species in the habitat, species found in sheltered places and species that benefit from microclimate variations, and different resource combinations in their habitat.

Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry

Maintaining diversity in the age structure of forests

The diversity in the age composition of forests will be maintained for forests of all ages. Diversity in the age composition of forests is a fundamental requirement for the continuity of wood supply.

Target species: Species adapted to various forest development stages such as clearings, young stands, thinning stands, forests of regeneration age and older forests in protection sites.

Protecting valuable habitats

Valuable habitats are key biotopes with conditions that differ from the rest of forest nature. Key biotopes are excluded from forest management, or the management measures are carried out on the terms of the occurring species. Examples of valuable habitats include sites with flowing water or springs, stony ground or rock and forests below cliffs.

Target species: The protection of valuable habitats protects species that have adapted to living in the conditions of these habitats. Protection sites protect species adapted to habitats that remain undisturbed for long periods of time. The trees and decaying wood of protection sites support the protection of the associated species of trees.

Protecting littoral forests

Littoral forests on the border of water and land ecosystems are excluded from forest management. The trees and other species occurring in littoral forests vary based on different forest types. Littoral forests are typically mixed forests with both deciduous trees and coniferous trees. Black alder is a typical tree found along shorelines.

Littoral forests are also important for the protection of waterbodies, so they have an impact on the quality of water and the species in the area.

Target species: Species adapted to shoreline habitats. Species using shorelines as spreading routes.

Developing the management and water protection of peatlands

The goal of forestry in peatlands is to protect natural sites in bogs and to maintain the water economy and water quality of water ecosystems in order to protect the species in them. Bogs suited for active or passive restoration will be selected on a case-by-case basis. Continuous cover forestry is chosen as the management model for sites that it is suited for.

Target species: Species in bog and water ecosystems.

Programme for the protection of species in herb-rich forests

There are species that exclusively occur in herb-rich forests. Fresh and moist herb-rich forests that are low in water resources are home to their own set of species. Each concentration of herb-rich forests around Finland has its own unique characteristics in terms of species. The management and protection programme for herb-rich forests defines the goals and measures to safeguard the various types of species that occur in herb-rich forests.

Target species: Different types of species dependent on herb-rich forests.

Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry

Programme for the protection of species in sunlit environments of eskers

The sunlit environments of eskers provide unique habitats for a number of species. These species are protected through various measures which are planned on a site-by-site basis. Measures are also implemented for individual species in esker habitats.

Target species: Species adapted to the sunlit environments of ridges.

Programme for the protection of species dependent on burned forest areas

Forest fires are a natural phenomenon, and some species have adapted to the habitats created in burned areas. Charred wood and burned forest litter provide habitats for species specialised in these growth sites. The planned creation of burned forest areas promotes the living conditions for species dependent on them.

Target species: Species adapted to burned forest areas. Other species dependent on decaying wood.

Projects for individual species support the general goals

Projects for individual species are carried out for species selected on a discretionary basis. Projects for individual species support the goals through the protection of forests’ structural characteristics and habitats.

Target species: Species selected for separate projects.


Developing the biodiversity network and promoting connectivity

The natural biodiversity network consists of the network of protection sites and the habitats and resources required by their species in areas outside the protection sites. Planning on the regional and forest stand levels in parallel supports the possibilities of species to thrive and move to new areas.

Target species: Forest species in general, species and groups of species of special importance for connectivity.

Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry
Regenerative forestry

Timeline for goals: reaction times of structural characteristics and species

In practice, safeguarding biodiversity means protecting existing natural values as well as maintaining and starting processes that are important to species. Although we can influence which of these processes important to species are active in a habitat and to what extent, we cannot change the natural timeline for these processes. That is why changes in the ratios of tree species, the amount of decaying wood and structural characteristics of the forest happen slowly and gradually.

Different species and groups of species react to changes in the forest with a delay and at their own pace. In other words, forest management methods in the last century will continue to influence the changes in species in this century. Similarly, the measures in use now and to be developed in the near future will affect the species across different time windows. The goals regarding species can be roughly divided into different time periods, such as the conditions of species in 2030, 2050, 2100 and later.


Regenerative forestry and ecosystem services

As a forest company, Metsä Group considers the production of wood an essential benefit provided by nature: an ecosystem service. The goal of regenerative forestry is to manage the wide variety of ecosystem services and the synergies between various benefits in a more comprehensive way. Finnish forests produce a diverse variety of material and immaterial services. Depending on the service, they may have local, regional, national or global impacts. Several ecosystem services are critical for Finland’s security of supply. The carbon sink impact of forests is important in the mitigation of climate change and international climate policy.

The goal of regenerative forestry is to develop forestry so that the various ecosystem services can be measured and that wood is produced as part of a developing multi-objective production model based on ecosystem services.

Verification for products and the management of value chains

The goal of regenerative forestry is to develop next-generation sustainability verification methods and standards with stakeholders. In addition to verifying operating methods and restrictions on use, the goal is to also measure operational impacts and transmit the measured data across the value chain and to the products to guide sustainable consumption.

In addition to the state and development of natural biodiversity, the production of ecosystem services will also be measured as comprehensively as possible.


Indicators and monitoring system

Key indicators of natural biodiversity include the ratios of tree species, the amount of decaying wood and the age structure of forests. It is important that the indicators are the same for all operators and are based on scientific data. For the sake of the status and development of natural biodiversity, it is important to centralise this data so that it can be utilised by both the public and private sectors.

The monitoring system must utilise current inventory and monitoring data. To produce sufficiently comprehensive and reliable data on the natural state of forests, we need both new technology and species inventories carried out in the field.

Research and operational development

Metsä Group is committed to the continuous development of its operations. The regenerative forestry strategy supports the industry’s shared biodiversity roadmap for safeguarding biodiversity.

We will actively seek partners for our research and operational development tasks to enable a sustainability transition based on scientific data. A multidisciplinary approach and the developing cooperation between different fields of research are the foundation for integrating sustainability in our economy.

Communication and stakeholders

We will actively and transparently communicate on the actions and results of regenerative forestry. We will call for experts among our stakeholders to develop our operations together, and we want to be a preferred partner in various sectors during this societal sustainability transition. Our goal is a socially and economically sustainable systemic change to turn the development of the state of nature in a positive direction.