UPM and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) have been developing a method for assessing ecosystem services derived alongside the production of wood-based products.
The pilot study focused on the environmental impacts resulting from the growth of trees used for the production of one tonne of pulp.
The study included indicators that relate to the most important global environmental issues, such as renewable natural resources, climate change, clean water and biodiversity. All in all, the benefits derived from forests are highly diverse, extending from products that can be collected to recreational enjoyment.
The forest area from which pulpwood is sourced yields multiple benefits besides just wood raw material. For example, the trees purify over eight million litres of water and absorb over 4,000 kg of carbon dioxide.
“Companies should include the evaluation of natural ecosystem services in their management systems, and develop this into a responsible and productive business. Our research marks one step forward, as indicators or methods for measuring ecosystem services are not yet agreed upon anywhere in a commensurable fashion,” says Petteri Vihervaara, Senior Research Scientist specialising in ecosystem services, SYKE.
Forest renewal also secures the long-term survival of species that inhabit areas used for wood production. Hundreds of species, such as moss, lichen and insects, depend on trees used in pulp production.
Sustainable forestry creates thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. Furthermore, forests are used for recreational purposes and have a strong positive impact on health.