Megatrends are shaping our operating environment
Many global megatrends, such as climate change, digitalisation and urbanisation, are also having an impact on Metsähallitus and its operating environment. For example, by the year 2030, the total population of Finnish cities will be 400,000 higher than now and one Finn in four will be over 65.
The renewal process is continuing
The updating of Metsähallitus’ steering system, which started in 2016 as the new act on Metsähallitus entered into force, continued during 2017. The aim of the reforms is to ensure that Metsähallitus can be managed and developed more efficiently as a single organisation.
Under the new rules of procedure, adopted in early 2017, the Laatumaa business unit was renamed Metsähallitus Property Development and the public administration services were divided into National Parks Finland and Wildlife Service Finland, which is responsible for wilderness permits and supervision.
In accordance with the new ownership policy, Metsähallitus streamlined its operations by divesting its forest tree sapling business. Fin Forelia Oy, a Metsähallitus subsidiary, was sold in June 2017. As part of the efficiency measures, tasks were also reduced in Metsähallitus, especially in the Group administration.
Better economic situation boosted the demand for services
The improvement of the overall economic situation boosted the demand for Metsähallitus’ services during 2017. Even though roundwood sales were slightly below 2016 levels, Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd posted excellent operating results for 2017. Growth in tourism and interest in outdoor activities also boosted the demand for the services of Parks & Wildlife Finland and made the plots offered by Metsähallitus Property Development increasingly attractive.
The demand for wilderness permits remained strong, and in fact in many areas, permit applications had to be rejected because of sustainability considerations. As anticipated, 2017 was a year of building in wind power, with two new wind farms opened on state-owned land.
Close cooperation with Sámi communities in the Sámi Homeland
The operations of Metsähallitus in the Sámi Homeland during 2017 were in accordance with the natural resource plan, except for harvesting volumes, which were below planned levels. The agreement between Metsähallitus, the Sámi Parliament, Skolt Village Meetings and the reindeer herding cooperatives in the Sámi Homeland on cooperation procedures and the consideration of reindeer herding, was observed. A special area plan was prepared for the Juutua-Tuulispää recreational forest in cooperation with local users and the Akwé: Kon working group appointed by the Sámi Parliament.
Close cooperation with the Reindeer Herders’ Association and individual reindeer herding cooperatives continued and cooperation negotiations were held with both parties. All timber harvesting, land development and road construction plans as well as hiking trail agreements were sent to reindeer herding cooperatives for review and, if necessary, they were discussed with the parties concerned and changes were made to them. According to the feedback received, all agreements between the parties have been observed in the cooperation between Metsähallitus and reindeer herding cooperatives.
Recognition on many forums
In 2017, Metsähallitus received recognition on many forums for the development of recreational and tourist facilities, for the preservation of cultural heritage and for its work in the forestry sector.
- Metsähallitus received a World Travel & Tourism Council prize for the responsible development of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and cooperation with the local community.
- The Blue Feat, the longest biking trail in the Hossa National Park, was added to the list of EPIC routes of IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) as the first cycling trail in the Nordic area.
- The Association of Finnish Travel Agents (AFTA) awarded its prize for the most memorable travel experience to the national parks of Metsähallitus. The award ceremony took place at the annual Finnish Travel Gala.
- The Vallisaari Island off Helsinki was chosen as the domestic tourist destination of the year by the Finnish Guild of Travel Journalists.
- The Bio Era truck and the Bio Era Tour received a Finnish Forest Association prize for a major contribution to Finland’s forest sector. The roadshow, organised in cooperation with the Finnish forest cluster, was directed at young people.
- The cultural heritage survey project carried out in state-owned multiple-use forests between 2010 and 2015 received a Special Mention of Europa Nostra, an organisation working to protect Europe’s cultural heritage. Special Mentions are given to projects making an outstanding contribution to the preservation and enhancement of Europe’s cultural heritage.
Feedback on forest management and fishing arrangements
Forest management practices on islands and in hiking areas such as Lammasjärvi in Kuhmo, Paljakka in Puolanka and on the islands of Lake Oulujärvi were a frequent topic in the feedback received by Metsähallitus from its stakeholders during 2017. The new Fishing Act also had an impact on the fishing opportunities of residents in Northern Lapland and it increased the workload of Metsähallitus in the region. The negotiations aimed at ensuring the coexistence of forestry business and reindeer husbandry in the Sámi Homeland also continued during the year.
The losses arising from a raw timber cartel were reviewed by the Helsinki Court of Appeal during 2017. As a timber supplier, Metsähallitus is seeking compensations from UPM Kymmene Oy, Metsäliitto Cooperative and Stora Enso Oyj in a case involving claims for damages. The main hearing was concluded in January 2018. The Helsinki Court of Appeal will make its decision before the end of 2018.
The disagreements between Metsähallitus, MH-Kivi Oy and Morenia Oy arising from a company acquisition carried out in 2013 were reviewed by a court of arbitration during 2017. The court of arbitration has already decided in favour of Metsähallitus twice in the case, accepting its views and demands. The decisions made by the court of arbitration are legally valid but the appeals against them are still pending.
Photo: Ilkka Immonen