UPM-Kymmene is pleased that the group working on forest certification standards has arrived at a decision in its demanding task. "Naturally it's regrettable that the Nature League (Luonto-Liitto) withdrew from the project at the last moment. As a result, Finland now has a set of standards, in other words minimum requirements for the sustainable management and use of the Finnish forests that also meet the requirements of the FSC, except the membership of the said organization. So we can now begin constructing and testing a certification system proper," says Chief Forester Pekka Tiililä. "UPM-Kymmene is prepared to commit itself to the system as soon as this is technically possible." Tiililä nevertheless points out that building up the certification system will take time. "But it should be ready in about 1998." The decision on regional group certification made in Finland means that once the system becomes operative, all the private forests, state forests and company forests in a certain area will, if the criteria are met, be certified together at the same time. This is the quickest way. Tiililä reckons that some of the forests will be ready for certification in the course of 1998. "This means that the first certified wood consignments could perhaps be delivered to the mills at the end of 1998, naturally on condition that the forests receive certification. Who will actually decide on the certification has not yet been decided." Certifying all the forests in Finland will, of course, take time, so it may well be a couple of years before a significant proportion of the wood used by the UPM-Kymmene mills is certified. The UPM-Kymmene Forest Division is at present engaged on two major projects concerning the Group's own forests: the drawing up of a biodiversity strategy and the mapping of key biotopes. "A group of Finnish and Swedish scientists is taking part in drawing up the biodiversity strategy and their work is scheduled for completion this summer," Pekka Tiililä reports. "By contrast, the mapping of the key biotopes is a much bigger project that will take more time and require far more work and money. We've been working on a system for identifying these valuable biotopes for a couple of years now, so we will be well equipped to carry it out efficiently." Again, outside experts are being consulted on this project. All the Group's forests are to be surveyed, and all the areas due for harvesting while the survey is in progress will naturally be inspected for their biotopes before logging begins. The UPM-Kymmene Forest Division has been evaluating its environment know-how by means of audits carried out in three years. These audits have been directed primarily at the Group's own forests, but last year audits were also carried out in private forests logged by the Forest Division. "The quality of our forest management has, according to these audits, been at least satisfactory. Over 70% of our loggings were classified as good or excellent. Slightly better allowance had been made for nature values in our own forests than in the private forests," Chief Forester Tiililä reports. "The results of these environment audits are being used in developing our operations and, of course, in our efforts to get our own forests certified."