By Claire Glaister, Institute of Chartered Foresters 61 degrees latitude: A house of 100 trees An intrepid group of seven left Scotland to head to the land of lakes and trees; a country with a scale of forestry which, to a forester, comes close to Utopia. The week-long Erasmus+ study tour, hosted by Tampere […]
The government use revenue from hunting licences to compensate landowners on any damage to productive tree crops by deer browsing – if this is indeed correct it is a very different system to what we have in Scotland.
Despite the presence of bears and wolves we learned that hunting is essential to managing a sustainable deer population, which was contrary to my perception at the start of the trip. Tapio said there are around 300 wolves in Finland, but 10,000 would be needed to meet equilibrium. It would not be possible for the number of wolves to coexist with the current human population of Finland – so hunting of deer by humans will always be required.
We also learned that in the Lapland area accounting for 36% of the country no bears, wolves or lynx were tolerated and were shot on sight to protect the reindeer. Unlike Scotland there are no ‘professional’ hunters, as hunting is too popular of an activity. However, Tapio foresees such jobs might exist in the future as the country continues to urbanise and less people live in rural areas.
This film shows the other side of the Erasmus course – the friendships formed and the cultural barriers toppled.
What beguiled me on this trip was that it was evident from every Finnish person I spoke too that they had a deep respect for nature. This included the hunters. Even the predators were an important part of their mythology. For instance, people used to collect the first droppings that a bear produced after hibernation and kept them in a pouch to wear so that they would have the strength of a bear all year. Another indication of this respect was the almost total lack of litter found in natural places which can be a real problem in Scotland. Our student guides just didn’t understand why you would leave rubbish behind. Solo walks in the forest were common and important to people of all ages. My impression was that the Finnish culture still maintained a real connection with nature whilst some urbanisation in Scotland may have severed this connection.
“We have around 500,000 capercaillie in Finland ” said Tapio Vähä-Jaakkola, our host at a local hunting club, as our jaws dropped. My colleagues Chris and Molly from RSPB work on capercaillie and the population in Scotland is in a pretty sorry state, having dropped to around 2000, from an estimated 20,000 in the 1970s. Capercaillie populations are healthy enough for Finns to hunt tens of thousands of them a year. “Most of the capercaillie hunting takes place in Northern Finland”, Tapio said later. In the 10,000 hectares of forest controlled by the Metsästysseura Haukka Ry hunting club, they hadn’t shot capercaillie for many years “Last year we calculated that there were enough capercaillie for us to hunt two.”
Sunday 9th September, Day 6 Ecology of mires and peatlands in Finnish forestry and Forest industry and Local development.(SB) On Sunday we met Senior Lecturer Pirjo Puustjärvi at the University of Applied Sciences having given Miia the day off! Natural regeneration on the bog We were off to see the bog and mire habitats of […]
Following our exciting excursions into the culture of Tampere we drove to collect Eveliina and spend an evening at Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park which in ways paralleled the frenetic and the calm of Tampere. Our first stop was at a viewing platform where within moments we all had our binoculars trained on a marsh harrier. When Eveliina succeeded in dragging us away from this platform we walked to the viewing tower to await the cranes…
Environmental protection is a relatively new concept in Finland with the ministry for environment being formed in 1982 following decades of escalating protests but as with many countries the probable driving force to actual change can be linked to the economic value of forestry being threatened when international players such as Greenpeace and the WWF stepped into boycott Finish timber.
Finns consider forests as urban parks. The area we visited is well used, with a café and plenty of runners and walkers around. The woodland is managed by the City of Tampere municipality and it is managed for the people who use it. The City of Tampere municipality have a land use plan, and as part of that the local development is managed, as well as operations such as the assessment of the effect of tree cutting. We noted plenty of litter bins but hardly any littering on the ground. There is little bit of graffiti and no dog poo bags left in the woods! Our Scottish urban site managers have been very impressed by the lack of litter compared to Scotland.
While we were there we sat in on a class with children who had additional support needs. The class were learning about Finland’s Everyman’s Right, the code for the outdoors and something the Finnish people are very proud of. Eva, our host, said that this is the basis for outdoor education in Finland; to learn to respect the countryside from the first explorations into it.