Old-growth Forest Reserves
Especially in the southern half of Finland there are few old-growth forests, which are in their natural state. There are, however, many commercial forests. Ten percent of the species which have been found in Finland and been evaluated were found to be threatened. Almost half of the threatened species were so because of forestry operations. Because there is such a large number on forest species on the threatened list, it is imperative to protect the remaining old-growth forests in order to preserve working ecosystems and nature’s diversity.
Old-growth forests are coniferous forests that have remained in their natural state. Typical features of these forests are trees of different ages, an abundance of decaying trees and a continual chain of small changes. There are often old deciduous trees in these forests as well.
In 1994 a total of 92 old-forest reserves were established by statute on state-owned lands. Their combined area measures 100 sq.km. and they are all located in Southern Finland.
In 1996 the government made a decision in principle to protect old-growth forests. On state-owned lands in Northern Finland new reserves are to be established and old ones are to be extended on an area covering 293,6 sq.km. On privately-owned lands in Kuusamo and Southern Finland new areas are to be established and old ones extended on a further 220 sq.km. These reserves will be established by buying or trading land or by giving land owners monetary compensation.
Areas included in the old-growth forest conservation programme are to be named nature reserves in accordance to the Nature Conservation Act. There are also some old-growth forest areas in Finland’s Natura 2000 network, which are not related to any nature conservation programmes. Additionally there are small old-growth forest islets that are preserved by Metsähallitus within commercial forests.
Entering and walking in old-growth forest reserves are permitted as Everyman’s Rights but camping and lighting campfires are forbidden in the conservation regulations for these reserves.