Published 27.5.2024

Primary and old-growth and forests: Metsähallitus inventories sites reported by the Luonnonmetsäryhmä primary forest team

A person in forest measuring dead wood.
The data of the destinations to be inventoried are measured and recorded in the field. Photo: Päivi Lazarov/Metsähallitus.

Metsähallitus has begun surveying destinations reported by voluntary ecological surveyors. The data are recorded in a system and will be later compared with national criteria.

The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have not yet published national criteria for old-growth and primary forests. Under the EU Biodiversity Strategy, Finland is committed to protecting old-growth and primary forests and, for state-owned land, this applies to forests managed by Metsähallitus.

“The field season is very short in Finland. The inventory experts had to start surveying the field so that we could carefully inspect the destinations to support decision-making. The EU expects the survey of old-growth forests on state-owned lands to be carried out by mid-2025,” says Jussi Kumpula, Managing Director of Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd.

Destination-specific data are recorded in map files, and they will be compared to national criteria once published. The inventory experts will measure, for example, the age of trees and the volume of standing and fallen decaying trees. The prevalence of snags and deadwood trees will be investigated. Possible tracks of past forest management methods, such as stumps, ditches and trails, will also be sought visually. The inspections carried out by the inventory experts are based on the Commission guidelines for defining EU primary and old-growth forests.

Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd has recruited 36 fixed-term forest specialists for inventory tasks. The inventory experts will evaluate forests that may meet the protection criteria in the field during this year’s and next year’s field seasons. The area to be inventoried covers up to hundreds of thousands of hectares, with a focus on Lapland, where finding destinations that meet the criteria is most likely.

The forest specialists were trained and introduced to the systems to be used in May. The field inventories were launched with measurements of destination data provided by voluntary ecological surveyors.

“With the exception of Lapland, field inspections have already been carried out everywhere in Finland,” Jussi Kumpula explains and continues: “I hope that the national criteria will soon be approved so that we can compare the measurement results with them and finalise the inventory.”

An external assessor will review the results of the first field season’s inventory. The results will be communicated in late 2024.

The goal is to protect the sites that meet the national criteria as nature reserves or as part of Metsähallitus’s landscape ecological network. The new nature sites found in the inventory that are in line with Metsähallitus’s Environmental Guide will also be excluded from forestry operations.

Further information:

Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd., Managing Director Jussi Kumpula, tel. +358 400 388 614, jussi.kumpula(at)

Further information online:

Information about the inventory project carried out by Metsähallitus

Commission guidelines for defining, mapping, monitoring and strictly protecting EU primary and old-growth forests