At more than 10 million hectares mapped, details of privately-owned Finnish forests the best in the world

The data on privately-owned forests collected by the Finnish Forest Centre quite likely constitutes one of the world’s most extensive databases on forest resources. In April, the extent of data on privately-owned forest stands surpassed the 10 million-hectare mark. This represents 70 per cent of the surface area of Finland’s privately-owned forests.

The forest resources data includes information about soil, the volume and growth of wood as well as forest management needs and felling possibilities. During the current spring and early summer, the database is set to grow by more than half a million hectares, when data collected last summer with the help of laser scanning based on remote sensing will be published to forest owners in the Metsään.fi e-service.

Regarding sapling stands, the data will be supplemented later this summer by information gathered by way of field investigations, after which each forest owner will be sent a notice concerning their forest’s immediate management needs. The notice will include a map of the forest holding and a list of forest stands that allow felling or in which forestry work ought to be carried out.

The database is the result of long-term efforts. The groundwork for the extensive stand-specific data was laid with forest planning carried out as field work at the beginning of the 2000s. Now all data collected with regard to forests is updated continuously with the help of notifications and growth calculations received by the Finnish Forest Centre. Forest inventories based on remote sensing began in 2010. By 2020, all of Finland’s privately-owned forests will have been inventoried with the help of laser scanning. The remote sensing is repeated in each area at approximately 10-year intervals.

The inventory method based on laser scanning adopted five years ago has reduced the costs of forest inventories substantially. At best, the data can be gathered with a cost of five euros per hectare, whereas the collection of equivalent information by way of field work alone would cost nearly four times as much.

Increasingly efficient use of forest resources data

The forest resources data is available to all forest owners and forest industry operators. Nearly 73,300 forest owners already use the data available on their own forest, accessible in the Metsään.fi e-service of the Finnish Forest Centre. With the permission of forest owners, the Finnish Forest Centre can also make the forest resources data available to industry operators. A majority of forest industry operators have joined the service, the database of which they can make use of with the consent of any particular forest owner concerned. Industry operators have those consents now over 300,000 and those cover nearly 3 million hectares.

“We’re heading in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the data’s utilisation rate. Only about a fifth of the information available now is in the use of forest owners or operators. In the future, the Metsään.fi e-service will be a key channel for managing forest affairs,” says Jorma Jyrkilä, who is in charge of the forest data services at the Finnish Forest Centre.

Metsään.fi has been free of charge to private forest owners since 1 March 2015. It provides forest owners access to all data collected on their forest, in addition to providing them with a channel through which they can give operators consent to use the data. While the service allows forest owners to specify a management or felling site and request the selected operators to get in touch for the purposes of carrying out the work, a forest industry operator can also take the initiative and approach a forest owner with an offer concerning a timber trade or the management of a sapling stand. Up-to-date forest resources data and the easy availability of such data promote good forest management, the sufficiency of forest resources and wood’s entry into the market.

The municipality-specific forest resources data for 2015—published in table format—is available at www.metsakeskus.fi/media-aineistot (in Finnish and Swedish).

Availability of forest resources data on a map

For further information, please contact the Finnish Forest Centre:

Jorma Jyrkilä
Service Manager, Forest Data
tel. +358 29 432 5407
jorma.jyrkila(at)metsakeskus.fi

21.2.2017