New figures released Friday from the National Resources Institute (Luke) indicate that more trees were cut down in Finland in 2015 than ever before in its recorded history, with 58.5 million cubic metres of roundwood removed from its forests for commercial use.
This figure was up on the previous year by 2.6 million cubic meters. It was also 12 percent higher than the average from the past decade.
A medium-sized pine tree contains more than half a cubic metre of wood, and Finnish forests contain an average of 72,000 trees per square kilometre. These figures can be used to convert the 60 million cubic metres into an equivalent of 100 million trees or 1,500 square kilometres of land area.
Most of the felling took place in the thickly forested provinces of South and North Savo and Central Finland, each of which supplied over 5 million cubic metres of wood alone.
Over 48 million from private land
Four-fifths of the harvest originated from privately-owned land. Over 10 million cubic metres were harvested from either land owned by the forest product companies of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation or land administered by the state-owned forest management authority Metsähallitus. This percentage of the total was down eight percent on the previous year.
Luke notes that Finland’s Forest Management Associations were part of the harvest’s statistics gathering efforts for the first time in 2015, and this partly explains the rise in the commercial timber figures. The state requires that all private forest owners join their local Association for regulation and conservation purposes.
Pulp and paperboard production on the upswing
The timber harvest is up due to a gradual rise in production in Finland’s forest industries. The pulp and paperboard industries are growing steadily, but volumes of paper production and sawmill operations continue to diminish.
The Finnish Forest Industries Federation for its part recently reported that in March 2016 that the forest industry was once again Finland's largest export sector, as the wood and paper industry accounted for 21.7 per cent of Finland's total exports. The representative organisation agreed that exports were boosted in particular by the increasing demand for pulp and paperboard, noting that the last time this happened in Finland was in 2010.
Finland’s MTK trade organisation representing farmers, forest owners and rural entrepreneurs says the country has more than enough wood to meet the growing demand, saying that in northern parts of the country there is even an oversupply.