Preserving and enhancing biodiversity

For over two decades UPM has systematically developed methods of biodiversity maintenance in commercial forests. UPM’s biodiversity programme aims to maintain and increase biodiversity in forests as well as promote best practices in sustainable forestry and wood sourcing.

Biodiversity programme guides everyday forest operations

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.

UPM Responsible Fibre

Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have.

UPM global biodiversity programme

UPM’s aim is to maintain and increase biodiversity on UPM forest land, and to promote sustainable forestry practices in its wood sourcing operations.

Global biodiversity targets take root

UPM’s global biodiversity targets guide company forestry operations worldwide.

Local co-operation with BirdLife

UPM is partnering with BirdLife as part of its global biodiversity programme.

Six key elements with global targets on biodiversity

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:

​Key element​Target
Native tree species (Native tree species are species growing in their natural distribution area.) ​Target is to maintain and increase proportion of native tree species and their natural composition.
Deadwood (Deadwood means all decaying material of native tree species, either on the ground or standing.) ​Target is to manage deadwood quality and quantity to enhance biodiversity.
Valuable habitats (Valuable habitats are biotopes which are identified to be valuable for biodiversity​Target is to protect valuable habitats and manage them for their biodiversity value.
Forest structure (Forest structure means variation of vertical layers of vegetation at stand level and successional stages at landscape level.)​Target is to manage variation in forest structure at landscape and stand level.
Water resources (Fresh water is important for drinking water, agriculture and industry. Water resources include large-scale wetlands and open water bodies that contribute to water quality and quantity.)​Target is to maintain open water bodies and wetlands.
Natural forests (Natural forests are defined as having no human impact.) ​Target is to implement plan for remnants of natural forests. 


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. 

Valuable habitats are preserved

Still, a number of specialised species need a stable habitat with minimum disturbance. In total, over 135,000 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 over 45,000. The area by country is: Finland 85,000; USA 18,000; and Uruguay nearly 32,000 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 2017 UPM sold an area of size 56 hectares to the state of Finland for conservation.

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.

Threatened species under special control 

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:

  •  LC – Least Concern: 707
  • NT – Near Threatened: 19,672
  • VU – Vulnerable: 14,349
  • EN – Endangered: 3,524
  • CR – Critically Endangered: 370
  • Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus): 74

Close co-operation with stakeholders

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.

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 ecosystem
services that can be derived from forests alongside the production of wood. The study provided
more insight into the environmental impacts of wood-based products.

Biodiversity enhanced through projects

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.

For example, in 2015 UPM, WWF Finland, Finnish Environment Institute and Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland published a guide to help forest owners and forestry professionals support the conservation of the white-backed woodpecker. TheWhite-Backed Woodpecker and Forestry Guide in Finnish promotes the living conditions of the endangered white-backed woodpecker in commercial forests. During the last 20 years, the population of the white-backed woodpecker has multiplied thanks to the conservation and management activities of its natural habitat. Today there are approximately 250 pairs of white-backed woodpeckers nesting in our forests. Read more on UPM press release 15 June 2015.

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.

Protecting life in forests

​Preserving and enhancing biodiversity in forests is part of our everyday duties. Nature management in commercial forests is an effective tool in promoting the biodiversity of forest nature.

May 22, 2017

Protecting biodiversity in Uruguay

Thanks to its rich flora and fauna UPM’s forestry site Esteros y Algarrobales del Rio Uruguay (Mafalda) is a very special area in Uruguay. As the land owner UPM is actively promoting the protection of wildlife living on the site.

March 10, 2017

Artificial snags and controlled burning attract beetles

Experienced entomologist Erkki Laurinharju knows that beetle traps sometimes remain empty in commercial forests, but in UPM’s Harviala forests this has never happened during the 12 years of the current research project. In fact, Laurinharju has found a great variety of beetles there, up to a third of Finland’s 3,700 beetle species. Some of these are endangered.