The Development of Forestry
Metsähallitus has sold wood for different needs since the very beginning of its operations, for a while mainly at auction. In the beginning of the 1900s Metsähallitus sold, among other things, railway cross-ties and firewood to the national railway board, as well as timber to sawmills. Metsähallitus also established its own sawmills, which in 1932, however, were ceded to Veitsiluoto Oy, which the state had a majority holding in. The focus of the forest industry gradually switched from sawmilling to paper and board production, which, in turn, led to an increase in the use of pulpwood.
Before WWII forest management began to garner more and more attention. The regeneration of felling areas, initially through sowing and later by transplantation, became common in the early 1930s. The first mire drainings were carried out as early as in the 1910s, in order to expand the area of productive forestland, and after the development of mechanical ditching methods in the 1960s and 70s, mires were drained at a furious pace.
During WWII, Metsähallitus had the uncharacteristic task of producing, among other things, charcoal and chopped firewood for wood-gas modified vehicles. Following the war, extensive fellings were carried out on Metsähallitus’ lands in order to pay for war reparations as well as to remunerate the men returning from battle. A significant amount of Metsähallitus’ lands were also given up for resettlement purposes.
In the 1950s fellings and transportation conditions were intensely developed, and as the demand for wood products grew, fellings reached even farther into the countryside. In the 60s and 70s efficient wood production received a significant amount of attention, in addition to intensive soil cultivation, sapling stand improvement and fertilisation. At the same time, forestry was mechanised; trucks, forest tractors and chainsaws were taken into use. The 80s saw the arrival of harvesters and various information systems used as forestry tools, which in the next decade became a part of everyday forestry operations. In 2003, harvesters were used in around 95 percent of fellings. With the increase in mechanisation, the tasks of foresters have broadened from carrying out fellings to conducting forest management work and different planning tasks.
Large-scale public debate about the state of forests and nature protection was sparked up in the 1980s, and fellings carried out in the wilderness areas of Kessi and Talaskangas led to conflict between conservationists and forest industry representatives. The predominant mindset of wood production did, indeed, change in the 1990s, focusing more on multiple objectives and the ecologically, socially and economically sustainable use of forests. With the help of, for example, Metsähallitus’ Environmental Guidelines to Practical Forest Management, the management of environmental matters became a part of everyday forestry. Metsähallitus’ environmental system based on the ISO 14001 standard was certified in 1998, and has further increased the monitoring and continuous development of activities. At the start of the 21st century, all of Metsähallitus’ commercial forests were included in the PEFC forest certification scheme.
From 1997 to 2000, comprehensive natural resource plans, which are renewed regularly, were drawn up for all state-owned land and water areas. The participatory, co-operative and open practices that were drawn up at Metsähallitus in the 1990s are complied with in the natural resource planning process.