High stumps and retention trees support forest nature's biodiversity

​​Forest owners and the forest industry work daily for supporting the Finnish forest nature. One of the most visible examples of Metsä Group's efforts are retention trees and high stumps, left at felling sites in the context of regeneration felling which is important for sustainable bioeconomy and forest nature biodiversity.

janne-soimasuo.jpg"On one of my field trips last spring, I came across a regeneration area felled two years ago containing two high stumps made from sturdy aspens. Usually the area around aspens, particularly felled aspens, is dominated by its root sprouts. Around these two high stumps roughly five metres tall, however, there was not a lot of root sprouts to be seen, " describes Janne Soimasuo (in the photo), Environmental Manager, Metsä Group's Sustainability and Corporate Affairs.

What is a high stump?

High stumps are one voluntary way of considering forests' environmental values in the forest industry. They have often been called ugly and unnecessary. Nevertheless, high stumps provide us with decaying standing wood that do not usually appear in forests as a result of windfall. The humidity of a decaying standing stump varies at different heights, thereby providing the species living in the dead tree with very diverse conditions. With the consent of the forest owner, Metsä Group leaves two high stumps that are several metres tall in every hectare subject to intermediate and regeneration felling. As they gradually decay, these high stumps provide a home to many different species, from fungi to birds of various sizes.

Forest certification expects leaving decaying and retention trees

In Finland, the renewed PEFC criteria took effect at the beginning of this year. Their up-to-datedness is reviewed periodically and the criteria adjusted according to increased knowledge or needs. In this review, the minimum amount of retention trees increased. What is new in terms of the retention tree issue is that the criteria also applies to intermediate felling. It is therefore important to retain old trees, tree species mixture and decaying wood in the operations carried out even in growing stocks, to secure the continuous presence of decaying wood. Certification is the very thing with which we demonstrate to the customers that our raw material comes from well-managed forests, in which the forest's other values are also taken into account.

"When planning and carrying out forest operations, the good quality of the work is also important for those of us doing it. Not once during my career have I come across a forest professional who claimed that they had chosen our industry to have the chance to destroy biodiversity. Rather, the most common motives seem to have been a nature-related hobby begun in childhood and the enjoyment of the outdoors. This starting point also provides a natural basis for the exercise of sustainable forest industry. The continuous development and improvement of methods must nevertheless be kept in mind at all times," concludes Soimasuo.

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