Forest Restoration Is Needed for Biodiversity
The objective of habitat restoration is to speed up the recovery of a former commercial forest to a natural state. Restoration creates characteristics of a natural forest that are lacking or absent, such as dead and decaying wood, charred wood, deciduous trees and variation in the structure of the forest. The goal is to initiate natural sequences of events, like the formation of decaying wood and the diversification of the age and species distribution of the trees. Habitat restoration also improves the living conditions of rare and threatened species.
Habitat restoration is particularly necessary in protected areas where the forests have a long history of forestry use. With habitat restoration, the full conservational potential of areas reserved for nature conservation can be reached faster.
Only a Small Fraction of the Forests Are Being Restored
It has been estimated that the forest area on mineral soil that needs to be restored in the protected areas in Finland is ca. 29,000 hectares. In addition, many extensions which are to be joined to existing protected areas are in need of habitat restoration. During the period 2003 - 2012, 16500 hectares of forest are to be restored in the protected areas administered by Metsähallitus.
The areas to be restored are situated in southern Finland, the western part of the Province of Oulu and the south-western part of Lapland. They are restored as a part of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO). The need for habitat restoration of forests will diminish in the future, because natural processes that create habitats needed by endangered species begin to take place.
The European Union Supports Forest Restoration in Finland
The objective of the European Union’s Habitats Directive is to secure biodiversity within the EU. Boreal natural forests are one of Finland’s seven forest habitat types, and they have been classified in the directive as particularly important habitats.
Several projects have received EU Life Nature funding for the habitat restoration of forests. The most extensive of the projects was the ”Restoration of Boreal Forest and Forest-Covered Mires” ("Forest Life"), in which around 5,000 hectares of former commercial forests belonging to Natura 2000 areas were restored. The project was part of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (the METSO project). The Restoration of Boreal Forest and Forest-Covered Mires Life project lasted until the end of 2007, and it is was carried out by Metsähallitus in co-operation with the University of Joensuu, the Karelia Brigade, WWF Finland and UPM-Kymmene.
- Restoration of Boreal Forest and Forest-Covered Mires (Forest Life)
- Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO (www.metsonpolku.fi)
- Ecological restoration and management in boreal forests - best practices from Finland (julkaisut.metsa.fi)
- Fire and Forest - The International Forest Fire Symposium in Kajaani 2007. Series A 175 (julkaisut.metsa.fi)