A Series of Finnish Forestry Blogs
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A Series of Finnish Forestry Blogs

​ 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 […]

Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland
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Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland

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.

A Capercaillie’s Home & Finnish Blogs
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A Capercaillie’s Home & Finnish Blogs

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.

Finnish Forests, Hunting & Capercaillie
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Finnish Forests, Hunting & Capercaillie

“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.”

Thanks and Acknowledgements
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Thanks and Acknowledgements

This is a joint report written by Ian Bray (Scottish Natural Heritage), Georgie Brown (Galbraith), Estelle Gill (Scottish Natural Heritage), Michelle Henley (Scottish Wildlife Trust), Andrew James (Historic Environment Scotland), Gwen Raes (The Woodland Trust), Adam Samson (Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park).

Forest Management in Finland
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Forest Management in Finland

An impressive 87% of the land area of Finland is forest, comprising 66% productive (over 20m ha) and 11% old growth (mostly, but not all, protected).  Approximately 24% of the forest belongs to the state, while the remainder is privately owned.  60% of the forests are family owned. The reason for this high proportion of […]

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