Metsä Group and forest owners planted 270 million seedlings in Finnish forests between 2010 and 2020. This summer, the figure will increase by more than 35 million seedlings. Metsä Group supplies forest owners with native tree species that occur naturally in Finland.
Under the Finnish Forest Act, a new forest must always be established after felling. This can be done through natural regeneration, or by sowing seeds or planting seedlings. Planting is the fastest and surest way to create a new forest. To secure biodiversity, individual trees from the previous generation are always left in the forest.
“We supply forest owners with species that occur naturally in Finland – pine, spruce and silver birch – for use in forest regeneration. This helps preserve forest nature in the state to which our native species have adapted,” says Teppo Oijala, Metsä Group’s Forest Manager.
In the decade between 2010 and 2020, Metsä Group supplied forest owners with a total of 270 million seedlings and 9,000 kilograms of pine seeds.
“Nine thousand kilograms contains more than a billion seeds, which have grown into hundreds of millions of seedlings. After seedling stand management, around 60 million of these ultimately grow into pine trees in our forests,” Oijala estimates.
This year, forest owners have acquired more than 35 million seedlings and one thousand kilograms of pine seeds through us. Forest owners themselves plant around half the seedlings they acquire through Metsä Group, and the rest are planted by Metsä Group’s contract entrepreneurs.
“We always supply seedlings of the highest quality possible,” Oijala says.
“The use of bred seed materials increases the growth of trees by 10–30% compared to that of naturally generated trees. Breeding has also improved the quality of pine in particular, resulting in straighter and more slender branches. Sawn timber made of trees like this is also of higher quality. Moreover, the bred seeds originate in our natural forests, too.”
Spruce and pine are the most popular forest species for regeneration purposes. They produce the greatest volume of logs, and therefore generate the greatest economic value for forest owners. In addition, pine and spruce are the natural species in the final stage of succession in Finnish forests: pine in poor and spruce in fertile areas.
In fertile areas, silver birch is also a good option. Domesticated silver birch grows very quickly and is particularly well suited to areas suffering from root rot.
“Metsä Group offers mixed cultivation of pine and spruce as an option for regeneration. This means sowing or planting pine amid spruce seedlings. This is an especially good option in areas suffering from elk damage and in stands with varying fertility,” Oijala explains.
Depending on the tree species and the forest owner’s goals, the number of seedlings planted per hectare ranges from 1,600 to 2,200. In addition, tens of thousands of birch and other seedlings come up naturally in a new forest.
The development of a diverse and resilient mixed forest can be secured through active forest management, and at later stages, with felling that supports the growth and range of tree species. In connection with seedling management and thinning, a suitable mixture of conifer and deciduous trees is left in the forest.
Metsä Group aims to secure rapid regeneration after felling. The goal is not to miss a single growing season. This offers many benefits.
“It helps seedlings reach good growth before the emergence of grass and bushes that hamper growth. The sooner we have a vigorous new seedling stand in place, the faster and better the new growing stock can sequester carbon from the atmosphere.”