In planned areas, the use of forests and decision-making related to forests must consider not only forest legislation but also plan markings and regulations that are contained in the land use plans and that govern the land use under the land use and construction legislation. The markings and regulations also affect the legal tasks of the Finnish Forest Centre.
Land use planning and the tasks of the Finnish Forest Centre
The management and use of forests are regulated by the Forest Act. Land use planning and construction guidance and supervision are governed by the Land Use and Building Act. Land use planning affects, among other things, the Finnish Forest Centre's legislative tasks as the monitor of forest legislation and the financier of forest and nature management work. It also has an impact on the forest industry in the planned areas.
The Finnish Forest Centre audits the implementation of forest and nature management work done by forest owners and forest professionals and the legitimate use of public financial support. Among other things, our work is based on the Forest Act, the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry (kemera), the Forest Damages Prevention Act and the Game Animal Damages Act.
The enforcement of the Forest Act is primarily based on the control of forest use notifications. The notification must be submitted to the Finnish Forest Centre ten days before the start of fellings. In connection with the forest use notification and the review of kemera applications, we also survey the planning situation in the area, that is, whether the Forest Act is applied in the area. To check the land use plans, they must be up-to-date and available either on the Finnish Environment Institute's Liiteri service or on the website of the regional council or municipality.
Where is the Forest Act in force?
The Forest Act applies to areas in the regional land use plan that are not designated as protected areas. In the area of the legally binding general plan, the Forest Act applies to areas designated for agriculture, forestry, and recreational use. In the detailed plan area, the Forest Act is only valid in areas designated for forestry.
In the planned areas where the Forest Act applies, land use plans that are based on the Land Use and Building Act with their markings and regulations and the Forest Act apply in parallel. Landowners in such areas must comply with both planning regulations and the Forest Act. In addition to the Forest Act, the provisions of the Antiquities Act, the Nature Conservation Act and the Water Act must be observed in forest management and forest use.
The Forest Act does not apply to protected areas established under the Nature Conservation Act, areas acquired by the state for nature conservation purposes or other state-owned areas managed in accordance with the protection decision of Metsähallitus or the state land management authority. In addition to the above-mentioned legislation, the use of forests is also regulated by many other laws.
Forest use and notifications to authorities
When the Forest Act does not apply, the Finnish Forest Centre forwards the forest use notification to the competent authority of the area and informs the forest owner. However, there is no obligation in these areas to submit a forest use notification to the Finnish Forest Centre.
In the areas of general and detailed plan where the Forest Act does not apply, the municipality and landowner concerned shall be informed about the forest use notification. In the area of regional land use plan where the Forest Act does not apply, the regional council and the landowner shall be informed.
The Finnish Forest Centre notifies the ELY Centre of the received forest use notification if the processing area or part thereof covered by the notification is located in or in the vicinity of the species of special concern, a protected habitat or Natura 2000 area referred to in the Nature Conservation Act.
The effects of land use planning on the use of forests and the tasks of the Finnish Forest Centre
Land use planning impacts the application of the Forest Act. If the Forest Act does not apply in the area, a forest use notification in accordance with the Forest Act is not required for the use of forests. According to the Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry (kemera) the Finnish Forest Centre cannot grant financial support in these areas. Kemera subsidies are granted, among other things, to support forest growth, maintain the forestry road network and safeguard forest biodiversity.
For this work, we need up-to-date information on the legitimate land use plans in the region. It would serve the tasks of the Finnish Forest Centre if all legitimate information on land use plans could be downloaded up-to-date from the Finnish Environment Institute's Liiteri service.
The Finnish Forest Centre’s involvement in land use planning
Section 25 of the Forest Act stipulates that, with regard to the planned areas and areas to be planned, the Finnish Forest Centre must cooperate sufficiently with municipalities to coordinate the objectives of the Forest Act and the Land Use and Construction Act.
When the area to be planned contains a forest, the Finnish Forest Centre should be involved in the planning process and invited to participate in the official negotiations of the regional land use plans and general plans. In addition, we hope to receive requests from regional councils and municipalities for opinions on regional land use plans and general plans.
The Finnish Forest Centre hopes for active cooperation with land use planners throughout the planning process. In its information system, the Finnish Forest Centre has the contact information of forest owners as well as comprehensive forest information. To support the planning process, a planner can request information that is useful, for example, in nature surveys, reaching forest owners, and assessing the effects of the land use plans. In the Finnish Forest Centre, the business managers are responsible for participating in the planning in their region.