Grounds for transfer of land
Metsähallitus both purchases and sells land annually. Over the past twenty years, the amount of state-owned land has grown by approximately 450,000 hectares.
Currently, the amount is over nine million hectares of land (2017). The amount has increased due to a number of reasons. The control of state-owned land, especially forest holdings from actors such as the Finnish Defence Forces, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, and Senate Properties, has been centralised under Metsähallitus. In addition, the environmental administration has bought nature reserves directly and transferred them to Metsähallitus’ administration.
Provisions on transferring state-owned real estate and leasing land assets are laid down in the Act on the Right to Transfer State Real Estate. Metsähallitus has the right to transfer state-owned properties under its control by selling, exchanging or renting them, if the transfer is deemed financially expedient.
The government’s real estate strategy outlines how and under what conditions the state’s fixed assets can be transferred. The strategy also applies to Metsähallitus’ transfer of land. In accordance with the strategy, the development possibilities of the property must be investigated and, if possible, implemented before the transfer.
Metsähallitus aims to lease its sites for different types of business use as much as possible. The duration of Metsähallitus’ rental contract depends on the nature of the contract and the lessee’s business operations or purpose of use. The contracts are usually long and take into account, for example, the changes in pricing and possible environmental responsibilities.
Transfers, leases and transfers of rights to use related to real estate assets are priced on a commercial basis. The consistency of pricing is ensured, for example, by means of common instructions. When necessary, sites can also be priced with the help of third-party pricing and assessment experts.
In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry appointed Jarmo Ratia as the rapporteur to assess the land leasing between Lapland’s tourism centres and Metsähallitus. The need for a report arose when some of Metsähallitus’ old lease agreements were about to expire and there were divergent views on the pricing of the new contracts.
Ratia suggested three solutions:
- More third-party expertise should be used to assess the market prices for each area.
- The return requirement for property should be defined more flexibly than currently.
- Metsähallitus’ role as a regional developer should be clarified.
Since then, there has been more price estimates by third parties, and the role of Metsähallitus as a regional developer has been outlined in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s and the Ministry of the Environment’s ownership policy decisions concerning Metsähallitus.
- Act on the Right to Transfer State Real Estate (finlex.fi)
- Government Real Estate Strategy (pdf)
- Ownership policy decisions concerning Metsähallitus for 2020–2024