Family forest owners may apply for a renovation subsidy for their forestry roads. What is not generally known is that the subsidy could be targeted to just a section of the road that is in poor condition.
Mr Jari Yli-Talonen, Executive Director of the Päijät-Häme forest management association, doubts that forest owners are aware of the possibility to apply for financing for only a section of the road. He believes that spreading this information would lower the threshold of starting improvement work, as the cost would then be lower.
According to Yli-Talonen, renovating even just a short road section in poor condition would help logging operations, especially in springtime.
“We have a serious shortage of sites that can be accessed even during the spring thaw”, says Yli-Talonen.
The volume of road renovation work and consequently the condition of roads has plummeted in recent years. Last year, the Forestry Experts’ Association Meto estimated that a third of the forestry roads would require urgent measures. There are about 120,000 km of forestry roads in Finland.
For example, only ten kilometres of forestry roads in the area of the Päijät-Häme association have been improved each year. The association’s road expert Mr Jyrki Mäkiranta says the need for a major overhaul is for ten times as many kilometres.
“Those who work with logging have seen the need of improvements. Moreover, all the machines used in the forest are getting heavier at the same pace as the roads are deteriorating. ”
Good road – better timber prices
Mäkiranta points out that the poor condition of road affects the price of timber. Since forestry companies are obliged to repair the damage to the road resulting caused by logging, they will take this into account in their price offer.
Renovation is first and foremost designed to improve the bearing capacity of the forestry road. Just patching a few metres can only be called a stopgap measure.
The Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry allows applications for subsidies to renovate a forestry road, but also to build a completely new road. The Act stipulates that a new road project must cover at least 500 metres. Mäkiranta says that in Päijät-Häme, for example, the estimated cost of constructing a new forestry road is EUR 20 per metre. Road renovation costs start at EUR 15 per metre.
The subsidy is granted by the Finnish Forest Centre. They, too, support the idea of repairing shorter sections of road.
“It would certainly be preferable if it sparks greater enthusiasm for improvements. It would also focus the funding on the right places”, says Mr Aki Hostikka, Finance and Audit Services Manager at the Centre.
“The condition of roads is a key issue for the timber supply. If it were possible to repair the weak spots only, we would save private and public money.”