Reconciliating stakeholder needs on the basis of sustainable use

Metsähallitus manages state-owned land and water areas on the basis of the principle of overlapping use and reconciling a broad range of different needs. The aim is to maximise the sustainable benefits of each area and to reconcile the many different needs of the stakeholders involved.

Success can only be achieved if the expertise possessed by the stakeholders is available for the planning work.


The purpose of the comprehensive planning and participation methods of Metsähallitus is to ensure that the social responsibility and general social obligations are applied in state-owned land and water areas. The areas are used and their use is planned in close coordination with regional and local stakeholders.

Natural resource planning - a tool for sustainable use

Natural resource planning is an important tool for Metsähallitus as it manages state-owned land and water areas. The planning approach involving extensive participation and based on creative cooperation is also unique when compared with the methods used by other European forestry administrations.

Natural resource plans serve as action plans guiding the work of all Metsähallitus business units in state-owned land and water areas during the planning period. The planning is carried out in cooperation with the stakeholders.

The natural resource plan for Southern Finland was approved and the planning process for Ostrobothnia was launched in 2017. The preparation of the natural resource plan for Southern Finland involved about 60 stakeholder groups representing the public authorities, business operators and associations. A total of 28 stakeholders representing the same groups have been invited to contribute to the drafting of the natural resource plan for Ostrobothnia. The work will be completed during 2018.

In addition to the stakeholders, private citizens also have an opportunity to take part in the planning process through an open questionnaire survey. A total of 103 answers were received to the questionnaire survey conducted as part of the natural resource planning for Ostrobothnia in 2017.

Landscape ecological planning helps to ensure biodiversity in multiple-use forests

Landscape ecological planning is closely connected with natural resource planning. The purpose is to safeguard habitats for species and the preservation of the especially important habitats referred to in the Forest Act and the Nature Conservation Act. Landscape ecological planning also helps to reconcile the needs pertaining to game habitats, landscape values, cultural sites and recreational use.

The quality and impact of the landscape ecological network can be improved on the basis of landscape ecological reviews by analysing any inadequacies in the network. The updating of the landscape ecological network covering the multiple-use commercial forests of Metsähallitus was started in 2017 in Kainuu and Lapland.

Events intended for stakeholders and members of the public were held in Kainuu and Lapland as part of the updating process. Feedback from the public was also collected by means of a map-based online questionnaire. Sites suggested in the feedback will be added to the geographic information system after they have been checked.

Management plans steer the sustainable use of nature reserves

Management plans are prepared for the nature reserves, wilderness areas and hiking areas managed by Metsähallitus and for the Natura 2000 sites. The purpose of the plans is to reconcile the aims pertaining to nature conservation, recreational use and other use for a period of between 10 and 15 years.

Citizens and stakeholders can have a say in the planning of the management and use of nature reserves and wilderness areas at public events and steering groups and by providing direct feedback and submitting opinions on the plans. By applying a participatory approach, Metsähallitus can obtain information and views that can be used as a basis for the planning process. It also helps to reduce disagreements between Metsähallitus and interest groups as well as between interest groups. Furthermore, a participatory approach ensures that the parties contributing to the planning process are committed to the goals and proposals laid out in the plan. In the best-case scenario, the process may result in permanent cooperation and interaction between regional actors.

The level of participation in the management plan preparatory process is determined on the basis of a stakeholder analysis and the characteristics of the area concerned. In some areas, broad-based participation, involving both public events and negotiations between the parties, is required but this is not always necessary.

The consultative committees appointed for national parks serve as permanent channels for cooperation and participation. For example, the consultative committee appointed by the Ministry of the Environment assists in the management of the Urho Kekkonen National Park. Each municipality in Northern Lapland has its own consultative committee. The management plans prepared for the nature reserves and wilderness areas in the Sámi Homeland are based on the Akwé: Kon guidelines laid out in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure the participation of the Sámi communities in the planning and impact assessment process and to find ways to reduce any negative impacts on Sámi sources of livelihood.

The management plans for the Syöte National Park as well as the Kylmäluoma and Oulujärvi hiking areas were approved during 2017.

Photo: Keijo Kallunki