Sustainable forestry at the core of joint production model for ecosystem services

Recognising and valuing ecosystem services as part of the expanding value chain for forest-based products offers plenty of opportunities from the bioeconomy point of view.

Ecosystem services add value

Ecosystem services mean the material products and immaterial services and processes provided and maintained by nature’s biological systems, or ecosystems. 

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.

Joint production model for ecosystem services

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:


  • produce wood raw material for a multitude of purposes,
  • protect biodiversity,
  • hold and circulate water, and ensure the high quality of surface water and groundwater,
  • prevent soil erosion,
  • act as carbon sinks,
  • clean the air and produce oxygen,
  • protect us from storm damage,
  • produce food – berries, mushrooms and game. In the Nordic countries, forest crops such as berries and mushrooms can be freely harvested by everyone,
  • offer recreational possibilities and improve mental well-being.
  • act as a buffer against desertification.

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.

Managing ecosystem services on UPM land – case examples

UPM applies advanced GIS, which enable us to protect natural values in the forests we operate and manage.

The company’s land areas include 22,500 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 75,000-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.

July 24, 2017

Point of view: Sustainability indicators for nature use must be developed

The urban see them through the window of a plane. The brave dare to wander beyond the asphalt and embrace the age-old truth with all of their senses: Finland is covered in forest. So what does this mean?