Finnish initiative leading the way
A FEW years ago a woodland preservation programme was introduced in southern Finland, based on voluntary initiatives by forest owners and aimed at preserving bio-diversity.
Under this programme, landowners can offer their woodland for protection, and it is then assessed on the basis of what kind of living environment the trees provide and which are the important elements for preserving bio-diversity. If the forest is selected for protection, the state reimburses the owner's costs and economic losses from reduced timber production and the preservation of the natural environment.
This type of initiative is increasingly popular in many EU countries and could perhaps be introduced here as a means of retaining our poorer broadleaf plantations as havens of bio-diversity, while at the same time enabling owners to manage and maintain them economically.
Mr Markku Nissinen, environment manager of the Western Finland Forest Owners' Association, said that protecting forest bio-diversity and natural values has become an interesting alternative to traditional forestry.