Climate Smart Forestry
In 2017, Metsähallitus launched Climate Smart Forestry project on the role of forest management in the mitigating of climate change. The purpose of the project was to examine how forest management can best promote carbon sequestration and storage in forests.
In the project, each of the ten million forest compartments in commercial multiple-use forests receives carbon classification, which describes its importance in terms of carbon sequestration and storage. Following this, recommendations are drawn up for the stand regarding the application of the forest management guidelines.
Using the carbon classification, forest management can be geared more effectively towards slowing down climate change. In areas with rapid forest growth and intensive carbon sequestration, the focus will be on forest yield. In areas with slower forest growth and at sites with special characteristics, the emphasis will be on forests as carbon sinks.
How does forests mitigate climate change?
Forests work as carbon sink. Forests bind atmospheric carbon dioxide in photosynthesis as they grow. The commercial forests managed by Metsähallitus play a major role as carbon sinks: their annual growth is 11 million cubic metres and about six million cubic metres is felled each year.
Forests are important carbon storage. When forest growth exceeds harvesting volumes, forests act as carbon storage. In protected areas and areat of restricted forestry use where no fellings take place, carbon is stored for long periods in both the trees and the soil. Old growth forests are in balance with regard to carbon sequestration: growing trees continue to bind carbon at a slow rate, while at the same time, carbon is also slowly released as trees are decomposing.
Forests, renewable natural resources and renewable energy play an important role as alternatives to fossils as such. Some of the harvested timber will continue to act as a carbon sink in wooden buildings and in other long-lasting products after processing.
Climate classification of forest compartments
Diagram. Number of forestry areas by category in forestry land, total 5,1 ha (Includes forest land, low-productivity land, non-productive land, restricted forestry sites and nature sites.)
Range of methods for climate-friendly forest management
In addition to carbon sequestration and storage, the significance and impacts of different actions were examined for soil carbon, business, biodiversity, water protection, recreational use, game, and reindeer husbandry. A more detailed picture of the most important impacts of the measures was created using long-term felling calculations.
Carbon classification is a new tool, which is used together with Metsähallitus’ forest management instructions and Metsähallitus’ environmental guidelines. Ech category has it's own targets and recommnedations for forest management and use. Methods used for carbon sequatration include operations such as fertilisation, regeneration using selectively bred seeds and seedlings, regeneration of underproductive forests and afforestation. Methods used for carbon storage are improving forest density, prolonging the rotation period, restricting forestry due to other forms of use and forest management to enhance coverage.
Carbon balance in forestry areas
We are increasing carbon storage in state-owned forests.
Carbon balance in tree biomass has been growing in spite of increasing amount of wood raw material which has also been harvested. Annual growth the commercial forests managed by Metsähallitus is 11 million cubic metres and about six million cubic metres is felled each year. Carbon balance growth shows that Metsähallitus’ forest management instructions support consideration of carbon sequestration and storing. Focusing on carbon sequestration does not conflict with a good forest result.
Development will be achieved by applying the forest management instructions with climate emphases and by further improving the level of forest management. The Climate Smart Forestry is part of Metsähallitus' corporate responsibility programme and the work for climate change mitigation will be continuing.
Development of carbon classification will continue. In the future soil carbon will be taken into account alongside forest carbon. We are actively following the process of reseach in this field.
Carbon in tree biomass in Finnish state-owned forestry land (forest and low-productivity land)
Metsähallitus develops forest management model that mitigate climate change (News release 5.4.2018)
Metsähallitus categorised state-owned commercial forests to combat climate change – the world’s first climate-wise forest classification (Finnish Forest Association 5.4.2018)