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Forest regulation

In addition to the Forest Act, the use of forests is regulated by the following acts, among others:  

Forest Damages Prevention Act

The Forest Damages Prevention Act is intended, among other things, to limit the risk of insect and fungal damage to tree stands from timber stocks and storm damage.  

The law restricts the summer storage of coniferous timber in and around the forest to keep the number of forest pests low. The obligations apply to wood owners.  

In addition to harvested timber, damaged conifers must be removed from the forests, that is, conifers damaged by, for example, wind or snow, from which insects causing forest damage can spread. 

Obligations under the Forest Damages Prevention Act:  

1. Fresh timber must be removed by the deadline  

Coniferous timber harvested between the beginning of September of the previous year and the end of May of the current year must be removed from the place of harvesting or interim storage in July-August. The removal obligation varies depending on whether it is in Southern (A), Central (B) or Northern (C) Finland. Pine timber should be removed earlier than spruce timber. The time limits and zones specified in the Forest Damages Prevention Act are indicated in the map below. 

Damaged coniferous timber must also be removed from the forest if its amount exceeds the limits specified in the Forest Damages Prevention Act. The deadlines therefore apply, for example, to heavy spruce felled by the wind if the amount of wood is more than 10 cubic meters per hectare and to pines if the amount of wood is more than 20 cubic meters per hectare. 

In addition, spruce timber harvested in Area A in June-August of the current year must be removed within 30 days of felling. The obligation to remove timber and damaged wood applies to timber with a base diameter of more than 10 centimeters, regardless of the intended use. 

The regulations for pine do not apply to an individual stack of timber or energy wood up to 50 solid cubic meters at the place of harvesting or in an interim storage facility. A stack is considered individual if it is located at least 200 meters from other similar stacks. 

The removal obligation does not apply to a stack of timber, where more than half of the volume is pine or spruce timber with a base diameter of more than 10 centimeters. The removal obligation does not apply to already dead wood or rotting wood either. 

If you, as the owner of the timber, are unable to remove the timber as required by the Forest Damages Prevention Act, take one or more of the following measures to prevent the spread of the forest pests: 

  • Cover timber (pine timber should be covered before the flocking of common pine shoot beetles and spruce timber before the flocking of European spruce bark beetles). 
  • Irrigate the timber for at least eight weeks using at least 50 millimeters of water per day, starting no later than four weeks before the deadlines for timber removal indicated in the said paragraph of the Act. 
  • Transport away the surface layer of the stacked pine timber before the flocking of common pine shoot beetles. 
  • Bark the timber.  
  • Treat the timber with an approved pest control agent at the latest when the pests start to flock.  
  • Place pine timber far enough away from the stand of the same tree species.  
  • Cover the surface layer of the pine timber stack with a layer of hardwood before the flocking of common pine shoot beetles.   
  • Cover the surface layer of the spruce stack with a layer of hardwood or pine with a base diameter of less than 10 centimeters and which has not barked before the flocking of European spruce bark beetles.  
  • Ensure by other means that insects causing forest damage will not significantly spread from the timber.  

Other means can be, for example, the removal of the surface layer of a spruce stack as such or chipped in area C at the earliest after the attack of pests and before the deadlines for the removal of timber set out in § 3 subsection 2 of the Forest Damages Prevention Act. The surface layer must be removed to a width of 50 cm. In areas A and B, the removal of the surface layer is a sufficient measure if it is repeated within 30 days of the first removal. 

2. Remove damaged trees from storm damage areas

As an owner, harvest any damaged trees and windthrow from stands and interim storage facilities before the above-mentioned regional deadlines. Remove damaged spruce trees with a base diameter of more than 10 cm exceeding 10 cubic meters per hectare and barked pine trees with a base diameter of more than 10 cm exceeding 20 cubic meters per hectare.  

3. Self-monitoring  

The Forest Damages Prevention Act obliges professional forestry operators, that is, professional loggers and wood suppliers, to carry out self-monitoring. The aim of self-monitoring is to ensure that the obligations of the Forest Damages Prevention Act are met, and that fresh timber is transported away from the harvesting site or interim storage by the deadlines. To fulfill the self-monitoring obligation, the operator must draw up a self-monitoring plan and appoint a responsible person. A professional forestry operator is obliged to make a self-monitoring report (in Finnish) to the Finnish Forest Centre if there is a danger that compliance with the law might be hindered. 

4. Control of Annosum root rot   

In connection with intermediate and regeneration fellings on mineral soils and peatlands, loggers must take measures to control the Annosum root rot in the risk areas between the beginning of May and the end of November.  

The risk areas indicated in the Forest Act are situated in the Southern (green area) and Central Finland (orange area). See the map below. 

The Annosum root rot must be prevented if, before felling, the forest growing on the mineral soil in the risk area contains pine or spruce or both more than 50% of the volume of the tree stand. On peatlands, prevention measures must be carried out on sites with spruce constituting more than 50% of the volume of the stand before felling.  

Acceptable prevention methods include stump treatment with an approved plant protection product, switching to growing of deciduous tree species after regeneration fellings, or any other measure having an equivalent effect. 

The lifting of stumps or the controlled burning of the regeneration area are not acceptable control methods. Stump treatment must be carried out in such a way that all conifer stumps with a diameter of more than 10 cm are treated.  

Annosum root rot control is not required if one of the following conditions is met:  

  • the thermal growing season has not started,  
  • the temperature on the day of the felling is below 0 degrees Celsius,  
  • there is a uniform snow cover on the ground,  
  • the lowest temperature in the forest area to be felled has been below -10 degrees Celsius in the three weeks prior to felling. 

The purchase and application of Annosum root rot control chemicals requires a degree in plant protection. You can complete the degree in plant protection by taking an exam either in connection with the course or online after self-study. The degree is subject to a fee and the certificate is valid for five years. 

In forest damage areas, the Forest Act is applied normally, and forest use notifications must be made accordingly. The forest use notification must also indicate the area of forest damage as the purpose of felling, and the additional information must indicate the cause of the damage.

Game Animal Damages Act

The Game Animal Damages Act provides, among other things, for compensation for forest damage caused by cervids to private landowners. State resources can be used to compensate for economic losses resulting from a significant reduction in the value of seedlings or older stands, the necessary additional restocking and afforestation of the affected area, and a significant reduction in the value of forest reproductive material. The determination and calculation of the compensation is regulated in more detail by a decree. 

Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry

The Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry provides for forest management work in private forests, for which it is possible to receive state support. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry directs the use of the financial support. The project-specific support is determined by the type of work and the location of the forest. The support is taxable and is applied for from the Finnish Forest Centre. The support may be granted to private landowners indicated in the Act.  

The state support can be used for measures to ensure the sustainability of timber production and forest biodiversity. In addition, the support can be granted to forest nature management projects, dealing with, for example, the management and restoration work of landscapes and habitats of special importance. 

Forest Management Association Act

The Forest Management Association Act regulates the tasks and administration of forest management associations. The task of forest management associations is to provide their members with services related to forest ownership and forestry. The Forest Management Association Act was extensively amended in 2015, after which membership in the association has been voluntary, and the Finnish Forest Centre has no longer had any tasks related to the supervision of the associations.  

Nature Conservation Act

The Nature Conservation Act regulates, among other things, different types of nature reserves, protected habitats, landscape areas and protected nesting trees. The Nature Conservation Act also provides for the protection of endangered and threatened species, in particular species of special concern, and for species protection based on EU regulations. The sites specifically important for the conservation of protected species and indicated by the authorities must be protected. The EU Habitats Directive prohibits the destruction and impairment of breeding and resting places of strictly protected animal species, such as the flying squirrel. 

Private Roads Act

The Private Roads Act concerns all private roads to which others than just the property owner has access. A road that is intended primarily for transportation required by forestry is called a forest road. The current Private Roads Act entered into force in 2019. In the reform, the key principles of the previous similar act have remained largely unchanged. In connection with the reform, the municipal road boards have been abolished and their tasks have been transferred to other actors. 

Other laws affecting forest use

The use of forests is also affected by, for example, the Land Use and Building Act and the Water Act.  

The Land Use and Building Act provides for a control system for the use of territories. Land use plans may also include restrictions on forest use.  

The Water Act provides for drainage and the related notification and delivery procedures. The Water Act also contains provisions for the protection of certain aquatic habitats. Protected aquatic habitats, the endangerment of which is prohibited, include springs, ponds of up to one hectare and rills located outside the province of Lapland.