“We want to preserve and improve the biodiversity in UPM’s own forests in Finland. With this target and through our actions, we seek to open up new opportunities for different land use practises that promote the preservation of natural resources or habitats”, says Timo Lehesvirta, Sustainable Forestry Lead, Forest Global, UPM.
UPM has carried out its biodiversity protection programme in the company’s forests for over 20 years. Thanks to the programme, the ratios of tree species have diversified and the amount of deadwood, which is valuable to many forest species, is increasing.
Natural variation in forests has been improved through thickets for game, by protecting valuable habitats and buffer zones next to water, and by leaving retention trees and tree groups on harvesting sites.
Some species are specialised to grow in conditions that differ from the surrounding forest environment. There are 45,000 protected habitats in UPM forests, and the programme protects all of them.
Biodiversity must be preserved
Biodiversity helps to protect water resources, promote multiple forest uses and ensure the growth of forests that act as carbon sinks to mitigate climate change.
UPM’s biodiversity programme is based on an analysis of the essential differences between natural and commercial forests. “With this new target our goal is to develop more accurate monitoring and verification methods to help us better evaluate and improve the state of nature,” Lehesvirta confirms.
The key performance indicators for the programme are variation in the forests’ successional stages, the number and type of set-asides, diversity of tree species, variation in forest structure, and deadwood, which provides a habitat to as many as one fifth of forest species.
The biodiversity programme will be carried out according to the annual plan, and the operations and results will be reported transparently. An independent group of researchers will monitor the progress and impacts of the programme. The target was presented at the Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Egypt in November.
Biodiversity has deteriorated significantly globally due to land use changes. Stopping this change and turning the direction is a key target for mankind.
“The indicators used by UPM are strongly aligned with the UN’s Aichi-biodiversity targets. We will closely monitor the progress of UPM’s biodiversity programme,” says Liisa Rohweder, the Secretary General of WWF Finland.
UPM owns 512,000 hectares of forest in Finland. Managing these forests sustainably is essential to ensure the supply of wood.
“Preserving biodiversity creates a sustainable basis for the new opportunities in bioeconomy as we move beyond fossils and towards using renewable natural resources,” Lehesvirta states.
Text: Vesa Puoskari