Healthy and vital forests
The assessment of the sustainability of Finnish forests is done using a collection of pan-European indicators. In some contexts, additions national indicators are applied, or the pan-European indicators are altered to correspond better to national conditions, which can be different because of the geographical or climatic indicators or geobotanical reasons.
The six pan-European criteria for sustainable forestry are:
- Maintenance and appropriate enhancement of forest resources and their contribution to global carbon cycles
- Maintenance of forest ecosystems’ health and vitality.
- Maintenance and encouragement of productive functions of forest (wood and non-wood)
- Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of biological diversity in forest ecosystems
- Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of protective functions in forest management (notably soil and water)
- Maintenance of other socio-economic functions and conditions
Finnish sawmill companies only use legally acquired wood in their production, and practically all round wood utilized has domestic origin corresponding the FLEGT rules.
According to the EU’s FLEGT action plan, the legality of wood is determined by the legislation related to forest management, wood harvesting and wood trade of the country where the wood is harvested.
Knowing the origin of the raw material is a prerequisite for the sustainable use of forests.
Sustainable forest management means the managed utilization of forests in ecologically, socially, economically and culturally sustainable way.
In Finland the forest is growing almost 110 Mio cubic meter of wood per annum and the total harvesting is only about 70 Mio cubic meter. Finland has been practicing sustainable forest management for a long time. Destruction of forests was prohibited by the very first Forest Act in 1886. Forest owner must ensure that a new forest is established to replace the one felled.
To mitigate the climate change, it is important to reduce greenhouse gas emission and store more carbon. Well managed forests do both. Sawmills store the carbon absorbed by growing trees in sawn wood. Further processed wood products can act as carbon sinks even for hundreds of years.
The volume of wood in Finnish forest is about 2.4 billion m³. The forests’ carbon sequestration store is 960 million tonnes.
Finnish forest is growing every year clearly more than it is harvested, this way it is binding constantly more carbon than it is emitting.
Finland is one of the world’s most wooded countries and the most wooded country in Europe: 71.6% of Finland’s area is forest. The volume of wood in Finnish forests is increasing every year. For a long time, the annual growth of standing wood has outstripped the amount that has been felled. Finland has 2.9 million ha of forest that is protected and in restricted forestry use, i.e. 13% of the entire area of forests (both high- and low-productivity forest).
Through forest certification, efforts are being made to ensure that forestry is practiced in an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable way. In practice, a forest certificate is written proof granted by an impartial third party that the forest is managed and used sustainably in accordance with certain criteria set out in the certificate.