Ecosystem services mean the material products and immaterial services and processes provided and maintained by nature’s biological systems, or ecosystems.
Although the term itself is fairly new, its meaning is very familiar to us. Forests provide societies with many beneficial ecosystem services: they capture carbon from the atmosphere, produce oxygen, maintain biodiversity, prevent erosion and offer recreational possibilities. Wood and wood fibres are important capital goods. In addition, forests provide mushrooms, berries, herbs and game.
UPM’s land use and forestry planning is based on the comprehensive evaluation and preservation of ecosystem services. UPM maintains and enhances ecosystem services in its operations through effective wood production, preserving water quality and quantity, building up forest carbon sinks and safeguarding biodiversity.
Ecosystem services are commonly divided into four categories: provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural services. All of these elements and functions can be found in forest ecosystems, too:
Sustainable forestry and the responsible use of timber are at the core of the joint production model for ecosystem services. Recognising and valuing ecosystem services as part of the expanding value chain for wood-based products offers plenty of opportunities from the bioeconomy point of view.
UPM applies advanced GIS, which enable us to protect natural values in the forests we operate and manage.
The company’s land areas include 30,000 hectares of important groundwater areas in Finland. Site preparation, fertilising and stump removal are restricted in these areas in order to guarantee the quality of the groundwater to prevent any operations which might adversely affect the groundwater.
Attending to the regulation of ecosystem services like flood protection, erosion prevention and water filtering provided by forests is an inherent part of sustainable forestry practices. Furthermore, the values of, for example, photosynthesis or insect pollination are immeasurable.
The traditional Finnish legal concept known as everyman's right allows people to pick wild berries and mushrooms in all UPM forests. Hunting rights are based on hunting contracts with local hunting clubs.
The ecosystem services provided by forests played an important role when the UPM Blandin paper mill and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agreed on the conservation easement of the company's 76,000-hectare forest area in northern Minnesota in 2010. According to the conservation easement, the land must not be fragmented or parcelised, and watercourses, wetlands, streams and rivers must be left intact. UPM Blandin can fulfil its conservation easement obligations by continuing to practise forestry in compliance with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). SFI is part of the PEFC™ forest certification system.
In this study, the carbon sink effect, water protection and the sustainability of native forest species were analysed in detail.
Have you ever thought about the many ways we benefit from forests? Take a moment to think about it. The first things that come to mind will probably have a personal meaning to you. Now think about all the ways forests benefit society and the environment in general.