In total, UPM owns nearly 1 million hectares of forestry land in Finland, Uruguay and the USA (Minnesota). The biggest estate is in Finland, and is roughly 640,000 hectares, followed by Uruguay (254,000) and the United States (75,000 hectares).
Moreover, UPM manages other owners’ forests as an asset management service, almost 900,000 hectares.
The majority of UPM's forests are mixed forests. Biogeographically, UPM’s forests in Finland are managed semi-natural boreal forests, while those in the USA are managed semi-natural northern temperate woodlands. In both countries, all UPM forestry is based on using only native tree species. The forests in Uruguay are plantation forests which have been established on formerly degraded land areas using non-native eucalyptus tree species.
Company forests are strategically important in a number of ways. They are a source of wood to the UPM mills (17% in 2016) but their role extends far beyond this. UPM’s forests and nurseries (one in Finland, two in Uruguay) play a key role in developing modern and sustainable forest management practices. The main current focus areas are tree breeding, silvicultural practices, regeneration, biodiversity, ecosystem services and forestry-related social issues. Furthermore, the company forests enable hands-on training for employees and contractors, and serve as experimental forests in R&D projects.
Forestry operations are governed by UPM’s Forestry and Wood Sourcing Rules and managed based on a hierarchical approach with respect to regulations, starting from legislation, the environmental management system, and forest certification schemes (see the table below).
All of UPM’s forests are certified. In Finland, all of the forests are certified by the PEFC™ (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and partly by the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council), and in the USA (Minnesota) by the PEFC under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®). In Uruguay, the eucalyptus plantations are certified in accordance with both the FSC and the PEFC.
Important operational guidelines stem from UPM’s global biodiversity programme, which includes instructions, for example, regarding forestry operations in different types of aquatic ecosystems, such as springs, streams and ponds.
UPM’s central planning and management tool is the Geographic Information System (GIS), a geo-referenced database covering natural resources, including forests and water. All essential data and information is stored in the system, including information about existing statutory protection areas, habitats of high biodiversity and other sensitive areas. The GIS is continuously updated after operations have been carried out or when new information is acquired; for example, identification of threatened species, important biotopes or protection areas.
Forestal Oriental, UPM’s eucalyptus plantation forestry company in Uruguay, is the centre of expertise for UPM’s plantation operations. UPM has two modern and technologically advanced nurseries in Uruguay, which specialise in Eucalyptus dunnii with an annual production capacity of over 20 million cuttings.
Forestal Oriental owns approximately 254,000 hectares of land, of which approximately 60% is planted with eucalyptus. The rest of the land is used for cattle grazing and forestry-related infrastructure or is protected and not used for plantation operations.
The annual harvest of pulp wood in these areas currently covers over 60% of the demand for wood raw material at the UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill. The rest is purchased from external suppliers who have been working in close co-operation with the company for several years.
UPM is an active partner in the New Generation Plantations Platform initiative. NGP was set up by WWF in 2007. The NGP platform is a place to learn about better plantation management through real world experiences, and influence others to follow good examples. NGP brings together leading plantation companies and some government agencies that manage and regulate plantations. NGP started with the premise that well-managed plantations in the right places can help conserve biodiversity and meet human needs, while contributing to sustainable economic growth and local livelihoods. The NGP participants maintain that plantations should:
UPM’s staff, contractors and suppliers are well educated and qualified with a degree in forestry or in another equivalent field. They have an extensive knowledge of, for example, forest planning, soil and water protection, biodiversity, landscape management, wildlife control, cultural heritage and archaeology, meeting the various needs of different countries. Training is an ongoing process, as new issues arise and R&D proceeds.
Moreover, in Finland, all field staff and the majority of the logging contractors take the Forestry Sector Nature Care examination, arranged by Tapio Forestry Development Centre since 1996.
UPM’s own forests play an important role in developing best modern forestry practices and sustainable solutions. The company’s research partners include the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute and Helsinki University.
As one of the world’s largest forest owners and wood users, biodiversity is among UPM’s main drivers when developing sustainable forest management practices. The aim of UPM’s global biodiversity programme is to maintain and increase biodiversity in UPM’s own forests and along the wood supply, and to promote best practices in sustainable forestry.
UPM has been planting eucalyptus in Uruguay for a quarter century. Cultivating eucalyptus for pulp production is a task that requires commitment and long-term R&D.