As part of its Forest Action forest responsibility programme, UPM has published a new forest habitat programme aimed at increasing biodiversity in UPM's own forests in Finland. Other aims of habitat restoration include restoration of hydrology and increased carbon sequestration.
The programme includes both habitat restoration and nature management measures which can increase biodiversity and support nature's own processes. Restorative measures will return altered habitats back to their natural state, for example by restoring drained peatlands. Nature management measures, such as increasing the share of broad-leaved trees, bring the structural features of commercial forests closer to those of natural forests.
"The focal forest habitats include different kinds of peatlands, small water bodies, groves, sunlit esker slopes, and burnt environments. We set habitat-specific targets for our forests for 2030 and monitor the effects of the measures at the management and restoration sites", explains Tuomas Kara, Senior Environmental Manager at UPM Forest.
"Under the launched programme, we will restore a minimum of 3000 hectares of peatland habitats and carry out a management plan in at least 100 other sites. One of the first sites--for which planning has already started--is the restoration of around 170 hectares of the Sulkueenneva bog in Virrat. We want to do our part in halting the nature loss and in a way benefit the nature which continues to benefit us, both as the forest industry and as a society", Kara continues.
Geospatial data analysis and local knowledge gathered from UPM's forestry experts have helped to identify more than 20,000 hectares of potential management and restoration sites. In the longer term, UPM will continue to implement the measures identified in the programme on these sites. We are gathering experience in this programme to educate our own personnel. In addition, business and personal incentives have been set for UPM employees to achieve the targets.
"We are open to proposals regarding new sites and co-operations. We want to increase our expertise in this area as well", says Kara.
In 2018, UPM published its targets for improving biodiversity in its forests. To achieve the goal, nine different indicators have been set to measure progress towards the target. One of the indicators is habitat restoration, which will be developed further as part of the new programme. UPM has also linked the pricing mechanism of its standby credit to forest biodiversity and climate objectives.