Urban Forestry – Pyynikki esker

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Thursday 6th September, Day 3, part 2

Urban Forestry – Pyynikki esker (AN and JA)


The afternoon of day 4 of our trip saw us in an urban forest in Tampere. The urban forest is situated on an Esker, between two lakes, and is about 60m high.

The woodland has been in existence since the last ice age when the ice was up to 4km thick. The oldest trees are about 200 years old but with smaller girths than we would expect in Scotland. The soil is mostly gravel so trees do not grow particularly well. Although forest cover was never really lost, this forest has been used in the past for timber and cattle were also allowed to graze in the area.

Urban forest management

The objective for urban forestry in Tampere is to have a range of different ages and layers, and thinning is done in small clearings. No permission is needed to fell trees, but the intention to fell is announced in case an area is protected, and the area also closed off to the public.

Panorama of the urban forest taken from a tower built in 1929 to replace the original one built in 1888 that was burnt down in the Finnish civil war.

The woodland is not very diverse in terms of species, limited to mostly spruce, pine and birch. There is a healthy understory of rowan but rowan is not considered a “proper” tree, and is cut down here to keep the views open and to limit competition with other trees. We noticed a lack of deadwood and found out that that is not liked by the public.

Public behaviour

There was time to enjoy the best doughnuts in town

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.

Urban planning in Finland

Same as in Scotland there are potential conflicts between the built environment and nature conservation. Interestingly, if an area is protected and it is threatened by development then the case is straightforward: development should not be allowed. However if the area is not protected but special species have been identified, then the case is less straightforward and this creates conflict. Green land in between cities and towns is also under threat from housing demand, however, compared to Scotland the conflict is not as heated due to the fact that Finland has more land and less people. It would be interesting to follow how this evolves in the future as the population grows.

A little bit of graffiti in the woods

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