Twenty Years of Biodiversity Cooperation between Finland and Hunan Province, China

The twenty-year-long biodiversity cooperation between Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland and the Forest Department of Hunan Province, China was celebrated on 29 May 2015 at Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, close to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.

The celebrations were participated by a high-level ten-member delegation from the Hunan Province. The delegation was headed by Mr. Sun Jinlong, Deputy Secretary, Communist Party of China, Hunan Provincial Committee. The Forest Department of Hunan Province was represented by Mr. Deng Sanlong, Director General and his staff members.

The Finnish host of the celebrations was Dr Rauno Väisänen of Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland. The Hunanese delegation also met Mr Esa Härmälä, Director-General of Metsähallitus.

A video greeting of Mr Zhang Xincheng, President of IUCN, the International Union for Nature Conservation, welcomed “the Finnish–Hunanese cooperation as an exemplary model in the conservation of biodiversity between Western countries and China”. Mr Zhang is the Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Eco-Forum Global.

Worlds Apart, yet Similar in Many Ways

The issues in biodiversity conservation are often similar in different parts of the world. International cooperation offers opportunities to compare practical solutions and best practices and to learn from each other.

The first stages of the Finnish–Hunanese cooperation were made possible by the financing through the EUROPARC Federation Partnership and Exchange Programme. The focus in the Finnish–Hunanese cooperation has been threefold: knowledge and technology, economic welfare, and scientific research.

Within this framework a Biodiversity Action Plan for Hunan Province was published, based on the many-sided inventory work done jointly by Finns and Hunanese. Another concrete result of the Finnish–Hunanese cooperation is the Hunan Forest and Wetland Biodiversity Education Centre in Changsha. The cooperation programme also included staff exchange and training. Nearly one hundred people have been involved in the cooperation programme so far.

By signing an updated Agreement on Nature Conservation Cooperation, the parties secure the future of the Finnish–Hunanese biodiversity cooperation.

A publication “20 Years of Biodiversity Conservation: Institutional Partnership between Metsähallitus of Finland and Forestry Department of Hunan Province, People’s Republic of China” by Dr. Rauno Väisänen was published on 29 May 2015.

Finnish National Parks Welcome More Chinese Tourists

For the growing numbers of Chinese tourists in Finland, the Parks & Wildlife Finland nature tourism project developed the services for Chinese-speaking tourists in Finland. The one-year project focused on the services and marketing of the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia and Nuuksio National Park in Southern Finland as well as Oulanka, Lemmenjoki and Urho Kekkonen National Parks and at the Nature Centre Siida in Northern Finland and Lapland. A Chinese-language website for nature tourists was opened at nationalparks.fi/zh.

Additional Information:
Publication “20 Years of Biodiversity Conservation”  (julkaisut.metsa.fi)

Chinese-language information for nature tourists:

PEFC Cerfication is the Key Promoter of Biodiversity in Commercial Forests

Director General Esa Härmälä, Metsähallitus:

PEFC Certification is the Key Promoter of Biodiversity in Commercial Forests

The PEFC certification has increased the biodiversity and natural value of the Finnish commercial forests during the last decades more than any other single factor, states Esa Härmälä, Director General of Metsähallitus.

Thanks to the preparations that involved a full spectrum of stakeholders, the PEFC certification scheme succeeded in engaging a wide range of forest owners – now over 90% of the Finnish forests are PEFC certified.  What comes to state-owned forests, Härmälä points out the environmental policy of Metsähallitus: “Metsähallitus created its highly appreciated Environmental Guide in collaboration with the WWF, and, largely thanks to the certification, the Guide is very advanced”, says Härmälä. Härmälä commented on the significance of the PEFC certification in a seminar on the PEFC’s effects on Friday.

PEFC has become the leading certification method for environmental quality and land area, both internationally and in Finland. Metsähallitus has participated in the PEFC certification since 1999, and currently 4.3 million hectares of Metsähallitus’s forests are covered by the certification.

The effects of the PEFC certification were assessed by an independent consulting company Gaia Consulting Oy, and the results indicate that the certification has rapidly improved the quality of forest management, with significant positive effects on the preservation of biodiversity in forests.

According to the assessment, the single most effective measure promoting biodiversity is retention trees required by the PEFC standard. Their effect is especially noteworthy among beetle species. While the Finnish legislation does not require that forest owners leave retention trees during timber harvesting, the PEFC certification does require 5–10 retention trees per hectare. Metsähallitus has opted for even more retention trees –16 trees per hectare. Another significant PEFC action that improves biodiversity is the preservation of valuable nature destinations to a much greater extent than required by legislation.

“Forest certification is a truly significant factor promoting increased biodiversity in the Finnish forests – in contrast with many other ecosystems”, says Härmälä. Härmälä hopes that environmental organisations would participate in the development of the PEFC system.

Buffer zones across water bodies have a positive effect on both biodiversity and water protection. In the future, landscape management should perhaps be included in the management of shoreline forests at suitable sites.

The greatest challenge faced by the PEFC system is international recognition and credibility in the market areas. The majority of state forests in Europe are PEFC certified, but it takes a lot of effort before the certification gets the recognition it deserves on the international market. This requires co-operation among all bioeconomy organisations, combined with clear messages promoting bioeconomy based on sustainable forestry. Metsähallitus is strongly committed to the development of the PEFC system.

More information about PEFC Certification:

European state forest managers meet in Lapland

Metsähallitus will manage the annual conference of the European State Forest Association EUSTAFOR on 11–12 June 2015. The conference to be held in Rovaniemi will be attended by more than a hundred representatives of the top management and experts of the 29 member organisations of EUSTAFOR.
EUSTAFOR’s members represent more than one third of forests and fellings in the EU.

The theme of the two-day European State Forest Conference 2015 will be “The Bioeconomy Grows in Forests”. The speakers of the first day will include Heikki Vappula, Executive Vice President, UPM Biorefining, Olli Rehn, the former European Commissioner for Enlargement, and Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, and Pekka Kauppi, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, the University of Helsinki.

The theme will be deepened at one of the three parallel seminars in the afternoon. Niklas von Weymarn, VP, Research Business Development, Metsä Fibre, will speak about the new products and business partnerships of Metsä Group’s new bioproduct mill to be built in Äänekoski. Jyrki Kangas, Professor of Forest Bioeconomy at the University of Eastern Finland, will focus on the impact of bioeconomy on the management and use of forests.

Another parallel seminar in the afternoon will discuss the reputation and conflict management of European state forest organisations. Managing the pressures placed on state-owned lands requires good and efficient communication, whether between the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise (Bayerischen Staatsforsten) and Greenpeace, or to include local stakeholders in decision making in the Finnish Lapland. The third parallel seminar will deal with current European game issues from the point of view of both Central European and Finnish hunting traditions.

In the afternoon, participants interested in customer service and guidance provided by Nature Centres and Science Centres will have an opportunity to visit the Pilke Science Centre and the Visitor Centre Naava by Pyhätunturi Fell. On the second day of the conference, the participants will familiarise themselves with Metsähallitus’ multiple-use forest management and have an opportunity to experience the Finnish early summer wildlife and midnight sun during a whole-day trip.