Natural resources in a key role
The aim of Metsähallitus is to act in a manner that slows down climate change. Forests, renewable natural resources and renewable energy play an important role as alternatives to fossils as such.
Forests bind atmospheric carbon dioxide as they grow. When forest growth exceeds harvesting volumes, forests act as carbon sinks. The commercial forests managed by Metsähallitus play a major role as carbon sinks: their annual growth is 11 million cubic metres and about six million cubic metres is felled each year.
Protected areas where no fellings take place serve as important carbon sinks where carbon is stored for long periods in both the trees and the soil. Old growth forests are in balance with regard to carbon sequestration: growing trees continue to bind carbon at a slow rate, while at the same time, carbon is also slowly released as trees are decomposing. Virgin mires are also important as slowly growing carbon sinks. No new drainage ditches have been built on mires in state-owned lands after 1994.
Wood construction has climate impacts
Some of the harvested timber will continue to act as a carbon sink in wooden buildings and in other long-lasting products after processing. The substantial built property managed by Metsähallitus, which comprises almost 3,600 buildings, is almost exclusively made of wood. In accordance with its strategy, Metsähallitus aims to use more wood in projects where there are good technological and economic grounds for it.
Increasingly climate-wise forest management
In 2017, Metsähallitus launched Climate Smart Forestry project on the role of forest management in the mitigating of climate change. The purpose of the project is to examine how forest management can best promote carbon sequestration and storage in forests.
In the project, each of the ten million tree stands in commercial multiple-use forests receives carbon classification, which describes its importance in terms of carbon sequestration and storage. Following this, recommendations are drawn up for the stand regarding the application of the forest management guidelines.
With Climate Smart Forestry project, the activities can be geared more effectively towards mitigating climate change.
Using the carbon classification, forest management can be geared more effectively towards slowing down climate change. In areas with rapid forest growth and intensive carbon sequestration, the focus will be on forest yield. In areas with slower forest growth and at sites with special characteristics, the emphasis will be on forests as carbon sinks.
The reforms prepared as part of the project will be introduced during 2018.
Energy from wind
In addition to carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also important in the process of slowing down climate change. The aim of Metsähallitus is to increase renewable energy production in state-owned lands in a responsible manner and in accordance with other land use needs and environmental values. Metsähallitus is not a partner in wind power business but it cooperates with wind energy operators.
Two new wind farms were opened in state-owned lands in 2017. Loiste Energia and Taaleri opened the Kivivaara-Peuravaara wind farm in Suomussalmi and Suomen Hyötytuuli opened the Annankangas wind farm in Raahe.
There are now 86 wind power plants operating in state-owned lands and about 90 sites have been designated for the purpose. The energy generated by the existing wind power plants would be enough to heat about 40,000 electrically heated detached homes each year.
Photo: Ann-Britt Pada