PEFC Cerfication is the Key Promoter of Biodiversity in Commercial Forests

Director General Esa Härmälä, Metsähallitus:

PEFC Certification is the Key Promoter of Biodiversity in Commercial Forests

The PEFC certification has increased the biodiversity and natural value of the Finnish commercial forests during the last decades more than any other single factor, states Esa Härmälä, Director General of Metsähallitus.

Thanks to the preparations that involved a full spectrum of stakeholders, the PEFC certification scheme succeeded in engaging a wide range of forest owners – now over 90% of the Finnish forests are PEFC certified.  What comes to state-owned forests, Härmälä points out the environmental policy of Metsähallitus: “Metsähallitus created its highly appreciated Environmental Guide in collaboration with the WWF, and, largely thanks to the certification, the Guide is very advanced”, says Härmälä. Härmälä commented on the significance of the PEFC certification in a seminar on the PEFC’s effects on Friday.

PEFC has become the leading certification method for environmental quality and land area, both internationally and in Finland. Metsähallitus has participated in the PEFC certification since 1999, and currently 4.3 million hectares of Metsähallitus’s forests are covered by the certification.

The effects of the PEFC certification were assessed by an independent consulting company Gaia Consulting Oy, and the results indicate that the certification has rapidly improved the quality of forest management, with significant positive effects on the preservation of biodiversity in forests.

According to the assessment, the single most effective measure promoting biodiversity is retention trees required by the PEFC standard. Their effect is especially noteworthy among beetle species. While the Finnish legislation does not require that forest owners leave retention trees during timber harvesting, the PEFC certification does require 5–10 retention trees per hectare. Metsähallitus has opted for even more retention trees –16 trees per hectare. Another significant PEFC action that improves biodiversity is the preservation of valuable nature destinations to a much greater extent than required by legislation.

“Forest certification is a truly significant factor promoting increased biodiversity in the Finnish forests – in contrast with many other ecosystems”, says Härmälä. Härmälä hopes that environmental organisations would participate in the development of the PEFC system.

Buffer zones across water bodies have a positive effect on both biodiversity and water protection. In the future, landscape management should perhaps be included in the management of shoreline forests at suitable sites.

The greatest challenge faced by the PEFC system is international recognition and credibility in the market areas. The majority of state forests in Europe are PEFC certified, but it takes a lot of effort before the certification gets the recognition it deserves on the international market. This requires co-operation among all bioeconomy organisations, combined with clear messages promoting bioeconomy based on sustainable forestry. Metsähallitus is strongly committed to the development of the PEFC system.

More information about PEFC Certification:

Published 08/05/2015

Dr. Pentti Hyttinen

Vice-President of EUSTAFOR, CEO Metsähallitus (Finland)

    Antti Otsamo

    Development and Environment Manager
    • +358 (40) 719 7734

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