BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND VALUE CREATION
Sustainable forest use The sustainable use of forests must account for all three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic. Sustainable forest use creates wellbeing, mitigates climate change, maintains biodiversity and prevents deforestation. Wood fibre – the renewa- ble raw material provided by forests – is an important alternative to fossil raw materials, and forest industry products play a significant role in the national economy of Metsä Board’s home market: the forest industry generates roughly a fifth of Finland’s export income from goods. Metsä Board’s mills are located in Finland and Sweden, which are Europe’s most forested countries. Forests cover approximately 75% of Finland’s and 69% of Sweden’s surface area. In both countries, at least half of the forests are owned privately, by ordinary families, meaning that forests are a source of income for many people. This is why it is important for forest owners that their forests remain viable for future generations. The volume of wood in Finnish and Swedish forests has increased in recent decades: the annual growth of forests surpasses the volume of felling and natural removal of trees. In 2016–2021, forest felling in Finland accounted for an average of 91% of the country’s felling potential. However, the rate varied in different regions. In Northern Finland, 76% of the estimated felling potential was used, compared to 96% in Southern and Central Finland (Source: Natural Resources Institute Finland). In both Finland and Sweden, the law states that a forest must always be regenerated after final felling. Forestry does not cause deforestation in our wood supply area. Instead, deforestation in our wood supply area in Finland and Sweden is caused by other types of land use, such as infrastructure construction. The targets of Metsä Group’s wood supply and forest services extending until the end of 2030 will help us increase the amount of carbon stored in the forests and long-lived wood products and promote the biodiversity of forests. • In commercial forests: Our ecological sustainability programme focuses on increasing the carbon sinks of forests, as well as improving forest biodiversity and water protection related to forestry work. • Outside commercial forests: Through its nature programme, Metsä Group provides financial support every year to develop- ment projects with a regional impact that promote biodiversity and improve the condition of waterbodies. At the end of 2022, the programme encompassed 16 projects, for which a total of EUR 600.000 had been granted in subsidies. Promoting biodiversity We ensure the sustainable origin of wood and promote biodiversity by using only traceable certified or controlled wood. Our goal is to increase our share of certified wood fibre from 83% at present to 90% by the end of 2030 (p. 54–57).
Metsä Group’s key measures to increase biodiversity: • We leave rare broadleaved trees in the forest: Since June 2022, we only accept pine, spruce and birch, as well as aspen with a diameter of less than 40 centimetres, in Finland. The tree species excluded from our wood supply account for three per cent of the volume of Finland’s growing stock, but these rare species are significant in view of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change. • We increase the amount of decaying wood in forests: Decaying wood is increased by retaining dead trees, leaving retention trees preferably in groups, and making high biodiversity stumps during thinning and regeneration felling. High biodiversity stumps are made by cutting a tree trunk at a height of 2–4 metres and leaving the upright stump to decay in the forest. Decaying wood is important for many birds, insects and fungi, some of which are threatened species. • Mixed forests help us improve the biodiversity of forests and their resilience against storms and insect damage, for example. Metsä Group offers forest owners a forest renewal service in which both spruce and pine are planted in the same area. Broadleaved trees, such as birch, which spreads to stands naturally, must also be retained in forests. • In line with our policy, we recommend nature management measures in herb-rich forests and voluntary protection of the best sites. We thus direct nature management measures to where they have the greatest impact on biodiversity: herb-rich forests account for only 1–2% of the surface area of Finland’s forests, but they are the primary home for approximately 45% of threatened forest-dwelling species. In 2021–2022, Metsä Group surveyed the species living in high biodi- versity stumps. The results confirmed that high biodiversity stumps increased the number of species dependent on decaying wood in the forest. Compared to felled stumps, they were home to a significantly larger number of species. Moreover, all the discriminating species detected in the study were found in high biodiversity stumps. These included previously threatened beetle species, whose situation has since improved.
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