For many Finns, finding a Christmas tree means looking no further than their own forest or that of a family member. The search for the right tree starts already in the autumn and as Christmas nears, often the whole family will head out to the forest, saw in hand. The outing ends with a freshly cut spruce being carried home. With forests making up roughly 75 per cent of Finland’s land area, there is certainly room for spruce trees to grow.
In Finland’s history, the forest has been the lifeblood of many generations, bringing families a livelihood as a source of saw logs, food and shelter. Nowadays, family-owned forests represent 53 per cent of Finland’s forested areas, with the rest owned by the state and companies. It’s no wonder Finns refer to their forests as green gold. In Koskisen’s procurement area, nearly all of the forests are privately owned and more than 90 per cent of the wood we procure comes from family-owned forests.
If all of Finland’s 5.5 million inhabitants were to be placed equally in the nation’s forests, 16 Finns would fit comfortably within one square kilometre (1000 x 1000 m). Every Finn would have 250 x 250 metres of forest at their disposal. That kind of forest area is the ideal place to find a suitable Christmas tree, not to mention unwind from the daily grind. We mustn’t forget, however, that cutting down a Christmas tree is not part of Finland’s ‘Everyman’s Right’ principle, like picking mushrooms and berries and roaming freely in the forest are.
Finns take care of their forests well and with great devotion. A well-cared-for forest grows practically right in front of your eyes and is a beautiful sight to behold. It also offers a home for animals. Finnish forests grow at an annual rate of 104 million cubic metres, some 65 million cubic metres of which is harvested for logs, fibre and energy. The largest timber users are the wood products industry and the pulp & paper industry, which annually use 26 million and 38 million cubic metres of timber respectively.
Since the 1970s, Finland’s forests have grown at a faster rate than the amount of trees that have been harvested. Finnish forests thus grow larger and larger every year. For more information, visit the website of the Finnish Forest Association.
As forests grow they sequester carbon dioxide, and efficient forest management and forest regeneration contribute to that growth and, in turn, increase our globally vital carbon sinks.
When feeling emotional, Finns refer to their forest as a church. Christmas is the perfect time to venture into “the forest church” and see the rugged spruces reaching for the starry sky.