Forest owners have several different opportunities to manage and use their forests. However, when making decisions, it must be remembered to consider, among other things, the Forest Act, which stipulates for measures related to the management and use of forests. If the forest is covered by forest certification, the use of the forest is also guided by the certification criteria.
In addition to the Forest Act, the use of forests can be affected by a number of other laws.
The Forest Act and the regeneration obligation
The regeneration obligation under the Forest Act is an important part of sustainable forestry. The Forest Act does not oblige forest owners to fell their forests. Instead, the law sets minimum requirements for how felling, harvesting, and regeneration should be carried out. Sufficient tree stands capable of growth must be preserved in the forest during intermediate fellings. Regeneration fellings impose an obligation to produce seedling stands. In addition, the law restricts the processing of the objects listed in it as valuable for forest biodiversity, that is, the so-called habitats of special importance. The Forest Act applies to almost all Finnish forests, with the exception of the areas mentioned in section 2 of the Act.
The forest owner must ensure that a forest use notification is filed to the Finnish Forest Centre at least 10 days before the felling. The notification is usually prepared by the planning officer marking the stand for harvesting or by the wood buyer, who sends the notification to the Finnish Forest Centre.
In the protected forest area of Lapland, the use of forests is regulated in more detail in order to prevent the forest border from lowering.
Forest owners’ rights
As a forest owner, you can choose how you manage your forest and what kind of goals you want to promote in your forest. Meeting the minimum requirements of the law does not yet guarantee a financially good outcome or a forest rich in natural values. As a forest owner, you can, within the limits of the law, carry out fellings and forest management measures or protective measures on the property. You can also choose whether to participate in forest certification.
You can find practical guidelines for forest management and use, for example, in the Tapio’s Best Practice Guidelines for Forestry. They are also the basis of the advisory work in the Finnish Forest Centre. Forest management recommendations are not binding on the forest owner, but they are advice on good forest management. The aim of the recommendations is higher forest yields than the minimum level stipulated in the Forest Act and greater certainty about the preservation of forest biodiversity. The recommendations are based on long-term research data and practical forest management experience.
Forest owners also have the right to know what information about them can be found in the Finnish Forest Centre’s forest information system. Most of the information can be seen in the electronic Metsään.fi service provided by the Finnish Forest Centre. Most of the Finnish Forest Centre’s documents concerning forest owners are public, and information is also disclosed to third parties, subject to certain restrictions related to the protection of personal data.
Notifications and applications
The main notifications and applications related to forest use and forest management submitted to the Finnish Forest Centre are based on the Forest Act and the Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry (Kemera).
Forest use notification
The forest use notification is to be made at least 10 days before the planned felling or measures taken in a habitat of special importance. The notified felling or other measure must start no later than three years after the submission of the forest use notification. For example, there is no need to report the felling for household needs or the felling of small stands with an average diameter of up to 13 cm, unless the fellings are carried out in a habitat of special importance.
The forest use notification is free of charge if it is made at least 10 days before the start of the measure. An exception to the deadline can be applied for with a form (the price is € 80 + billing and postage costs). The easiest way to make a forest use notification is in the Metsään.fi service and with the same notification you can also request an extension to the deadline.
- Forest use notification form (in Finnish)
- Application for an extension of the deadline for the forest use notification (in Finnish)
In addition to or instead of making a forest use notification, felling may require a municipal landscape work permit in accordance with the Land Use and Building Act. Measures that change the landscape, such as felling trees, may be subject to a permit in the master plan and town plan areas and in the areas for which these plans are drawn up.
Measures that do not require a forest use notification must be notified to the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) if the measures are carried out in or near a site belonging to the Natura 2000 network and is likely to significantly impair the area's natural values. More detailed instructions on how to make a notification and how to fill in its content can be found in the online service of Finland’s Environmental Administration (in Finnish).
The state finances measures to increase forest growth and maintain the forestry road network. Funding is also available for voluntary forest nature management work and conservation of nature sites. Support may also be granted for afforestation of such non-productive lands suitable for silviculture which do not belong to the categories of forestry lands or non-agricultural lands.