Attending to biodiversity is an inherent part of forest-based companies’ operations and forestry principles. Biodiversity supports ecosystem services including air quality, climate, water purification, pollination, prevention of erosion and raw material provision. Preserving biodiversity will help adaptation to potential impacts on climate change. It is also important in maintaining the health and strength of wildlife populations.
The UPM biodiversity programme’s main focus is on integrating biodiversity protection to planning and harvesting operations in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity through forest management practices.
Specific species projects and case studies in the programme have a role in demonstrating and communicating biodiversity issues, testing how programme actions meet the needs of single species, and creating a new working culture in collaboration with stakeholders. As a big land owner, UPM promotes voluntary-based nature conservation, and protected areas are part of the biodiversity programme solutions as well.
UPM has integrated the programme into our everyday forest management through our Forestry and Wood Sourcing Rules.
Based on comparison and gap analyses between natural and commercial forests, the UPM biodiversity programme has identified six key elements that are important for forest biodiversity. Global targets have been set for each key element and the programme is implemented through country-specific actions. The key elements and targets are:
The UPM biodiversity programme recognises on one hand the differences between forestry in semi-natural forests and in plantation forestry, but on the other hand it identifies and highlights the key elements which are vital for maintaining biodiversity throughout all vegetation zones and common to all forest ecosystems on the planet.
We have set global targets for each key element. Forestry in each country is different, not just in terms of forest type but also in terms of the history of utilisation and local forest legislation. This is why the implementation of UPM's biodiversity programme is based on country-level targets and local action plans.
The vast majority of original forest biodiversity is safeguarded by UPM’s operational practices. Native tree species are the keystone of forest ecosystems, providing food and habitat for the majority of other forest species, i.e. ground vegetation, herbivores, predators and parasites. The positive impact on biodiversity is further strengthened by creating structural variation in the forests. By leaving retention trees and dead trees in the forests, favourable conditions are created for thousands of saproxylic species.
Still, a number of specialised species need a stable habitat with minimum disturbance. In total, nearly 12o,000 hectares of valuable habitats have been defined as areas set aside in UPM’s forests for such species. The protected habitats range from habitats of a fraction of a hectare to large protected areas covering a wide range of different habitats and totalling nearly 49,000. The area by country is: Finland 95,000; USA 18,000; and Uruguay 6,000 hectares.
The flagship of UPM-owned protected areas is the Griffin Forest with an area of 1,400 hectares. It is located next to the state-owned Repovesi National Park. Together they make an exceptionally large, 2,900-hectare protected area in southern Finland. UPM donated 560 hectares of forest land to the Finnish state in 2002 which made it possible to establish the Repovesi National Park. The area is being managed as a whole by the Aarnikotka Forest Administrative Committee. The administrative committee consists of representatives from UPM, Metsähallitus and the South-Eastern Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The representative from UPM acts as the chair of the administrative committee.
In 2015, several new conservation areas were established on UPM-owned land following the decisions of a number of different centres for economic development, transport and the environment. The total size of the new conserved area in 2015 was 436 hectares.
Most of the areas dedicated to preserving biodiversity do not require any human activity. These areas develop slowly over time into natural forests. Some areas, however, do benefit from human interaction.
In 2012 UPM analysed the results of the fourth survey on threatened Finnish species (The 2010 Red List of Finnish Species). As a result of this analysis, UPM was able to obtain a better understanding of which forest habitats these species live in, the groups of species they represent, the reasons that species become threatened and related risk factors.
The company also obtained a better understanding of the criteria used for the evaluation of threatened species. For instance, some of the species will remain threatened species according to the criteria for evaluation under all conditions and no matter what action is taken.
UPM is committed to preserving known threatened species in Finland. Based on the analysis performed, it will be easier for the company to define the measures required for protecting each species. UPM's GIS-system has been supplemented with information gathered by the Finnish Environmental Institute, regarding all known occurrences of threatened species. This facilitates observing and protecting these occurrences in plans concerning stands marked for harvesting.
Red List Status and number of occurrence:
UPM’s biodiversity programme was created by the company’s forest ecologists and sustainable forestry experts and external experts. The content and implementation of UPM's biodiversity programme was further developed in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) throughout 2012 and 2013. In the first year, IUCN evaluated the content and implementation of UPM's global biodiversity programme and made recommendations to develop it according to conclusions reached during the evaluation. In 2013, the collaboration continued via a project with the goal of developing forestry by integrating biodiversity into UPM’s business and customer collaboration activities.
In 2015, UPM participated in the CBD Business and Biodiversity Forum 2015 held in Helsinki. The CBD Business and Biodiversity Forum is part of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity initiative. Recognising ecosystem services offers plenty of opportunities from the bioeconomy point of view, and UPM and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) published a joint study on ecosystemservices that can be derived from forests alongside the production of wood. The study providedmore insight into the environmental impacts of wood-based products. UPM and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment also agreed on the establishment of several private conservation areas in different parts of Finland in 2015.
UPM is running several research projects and case studies in close co-operation with stakeholders aimed at developing methods of promoting biodiversity in commercially managed forests.
A number of examples of active nature management and restoration projects and activities implemented by UPM can be found in different countries. These activities are often carried out in co-operation with research and/or environmental non-governmental organisations.
Biodiversity has been one key element in UPM’s forestry and wood sourcing strategy for more than 20 years.
UPM’s aim is to maintain and increase biodiversity on UPM forest land, and to promote sustainable forestry practices in its wood sourcing operations. The biodiversity programme has identified six key elements that are important for forest biodiversity. A global target has been set for each key element and these will be implemented through country level targets and local action plans.