Report: Researchers surprised at range of species in Finnish commercial forests – see lengthy list

24.5.2024 / Article
Most species on the Red List were only found on one or two sites. The most common were the polypores Sidera lenis and Rhodofomes roseus (pictured), found on more than ten sites. Photo: Anna Kauppi

Finnish commercial forests are unexpectedly rich in species, according to a unique report by Metsähallitus.

A new report by Metsähallitus records over seven thousand observations on various species, of which 1,700 concerned occurrences of threatened species. A total of 133 species were found, 101 among them  being endangered or near-threatened. The report focused on commercial forests and surveyed species of lichens, polypores and mosses inhabiting live and decayed trees.

’Overall, the result was a positive surprise. We found a great number of species, and each was observed more often than expected. We gained new information on the species and their occurrences in commercial forests,’ says Tuomas Kallio, Species Specialist at Metsähallitus.

The report was published at a webinar by Metsähallitus on 15 May. The range of species found  is in general use as an indicator of the nature and protection values of forests. According to Kallio, these species form an essential share of forest species, which has been assumed to have deteriorated in consequence of forest use.

As the authority managing state forests in Finland, Metsähallitus surveyed the occurrence of threatened species on 230 sites in Lapland, Kainuu and Finnish Lakeland during the two years preceding 2023,

’There have been no extensive surveys of threatened species in commercial forests. Data of this type is important when assessing which species can be maintained in commercial forests and also the success of nature management,’ Kallio says.

Essential part of forest species included

According to Kallio, endangered and other species included in the so-called Red List can be found in many types of forests, even in ordinary commercial forests.

Commercial forests do not constitute what is called a species vacuum. With the help of nature management, it is possible to maintain suitable environments in commercial forests and provide support to protected areas.

’Commercial forests do not constitute what is called a species vacuum. With the help of nature management, it is possible to maintain suitable environments in commercial forests and provide support to protected areas. For particular species to occur in commercial forests, it is important that the forests contain characteristics necessary for each species, such as decayed wood, aged trees and broadleaves,’ Kallio says.

Kallio explains that most species on the Red List occur in many places, even though the number of individuals is small in the majority of cases.

’Not all the species are particularly demanding, so they may thrive in many types of forests. For some of the demanding species, the occurrences are clearly more frequent in old-growth forests, and it’s only fairly infrequently that they can be found in commercial forests.’

Survey sites chosen at random

The sites surveyed were forest compartments chosen at random. Over half of them (64 percent) were below 80 years of age and about one fifth (22 percent) between the ages of 20  and 80. Fourteen percent of the sites were over 120 years of age.

’Most sites were what we call normal commercial forests, meaning that they have the usual history of regeneration and thinning,’ Kallio says.

According to Kallio, the species surveyed can be found in any forest regardless of age, but the number of species was found to increase with the age of the dominant trees on a site.

Species can only thrive in forests with characteristics important for them, such as decayed wood, aged trees and broadleaves. Tuomas Kallio / Metsähallitus. Monikäyttömetsien lajistoselvitys 2023 [Report on species in multiple-use forests], Metsähallitus
’The nature sites in commercial forests contained a wide range of species, with a great significance for the protection of biodiversity. The nature sites contained more species and species of a more demanding kind than sites in ordinary commercial forests.’

The nature sites in commercial forests contained a wide range of species, with a great significance for the protection of biodiversity. The nature sites contained more species and species of a more demanding kind than sites in ordinary commercial forests.

The majority of observations concerned epiphytic lichen living on tree stems and branches. Fewer observations were made on species inhabiting decayed wood. A positive surprise was the presence  of aged trees and broadleaves.

’In general, decayed wood is scarce in commercial forests, and so there were fewer observations on species inhabiting deadwood than of species inhabiting the stems and branches of living trees. Endangered polypores, for example, were only found on a few sites,’ Kallio says.

Lessons for forest management

The report inspires Tuomas Kallio to reiterate that one of the things to pay attention to with fellings is the number and type of retention trees.

’It’s particularly important to spare aged trees. Broadleaves must be spared at all stages of forest management, unnecessary clearing should be avoided, and sparing existing decayed wood is a cost-effective method of increasing forest biodiversity,’ Kallio lists.

It’s particularly important to spare aged trees. Broadleaves must be spared at all stages of forest management, unnecessary clearing should be avoided, and sparing existing decayed wood is a cost-effective method of increasing forest biodiversity.

The survey was a project of Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd, with the practical work undertaken by species specialists at Metsähallitus together with external species specialists. The project recently received the Environmental and Innovation Award of Metsähallitus.

Read more: Bronze birch borer could kill all European birches – Chilling experience: ’Even total destruction seen’

Read more:  Amount of wood in Finnish forests increased

These species were found:

Acolium inquinans

Acolium karelicum

Agyrium rufum

Common witch’s-hair lichen –  Alectoria sarmentosa

Arthonia incarnata

Arthonia vinosa

Arthopyrenia analepta

Arthothelium scandinavicum

Bryoria fremontii

Boreal button lichen – Buellia disciformis

Common button lichen – Buellia erubescens

Calicium adspersum

Calicium denigratum

Calicium salicinum

Carbonicola anthracophila

Carbonicola myrmecina

Catinaria atropurpurea

Catinaria neuschildii

Chaenotheca brachypoda

Chaenotheca chlorella

Chaenotheca gracilenta

Chaenotheca gracillima

Chaenotheca laevigata

Chaenotheca sphaerocephala

Chaenotheca stemonea

Chaenotheca subroscida

Chaenothecopsis

Chaenothecopsis epithallina

Chaenothecopsis fennica

Chaenothecopsis nana

Cladonia norvegica

Fence-rail cup lichen – Cladonia parasitica

Collema furfuraceum

Evernia divaricata

Evernia mesomorpha

Fuscopannaria praetermissa

Hertelidea botryosa

Japewia subaurifera

Japewia tornoënsis

Lecanora cadubriae

Lepra opthalmiza

Leptogium saturninum

Lobaria pulmonaria

Textured lungwort – Lobaria scrobiculata

Lopadium disciforme

Micarea hedlundii

Microcalicium ahlneri

Microcalicium disseminatum

Naetrocymbe punctiformis

Nephroma bellum

Nephroma parile

Pimpled kidney lichen – Nephroma resupinatum

Ochrolechia pallescens

Parmeliella triptophylla

Veinless pelt lichen – Peltigera malacea

Peltigera membranacea

Scaly dog pelt lichen – Peltigera praetextata

Pertusaria carneopallida

Peltigera cf. membranacea

Gray moss-shingle – Protopannaria pezizoides

Pseudographis pinicola

Pycnora xanthococca

Ramalina sinensis

Ramboldia elabens

Rinodina cinereovirens

Rostania occultata var. occultata

Sclerophora coniophaea

Usnea cf. fulvoreagens

Usnea glabrescens

Usnea perplexans

Xylographa trunciseda

Amylocystis lapponica

Anomoporia kamtschatica

Anthoporia albobrunnea

Antrodia mellita

Antrodia piceata

Antrodia pulvinascens

Aporpium canescens

Asterodon ferruginosus

Camarops tubulina

Chaetoderma luna

Crustoderma dryinum

Cystostereum murrayi

Dichomitus squalens

Diplomitoporus crustulinus

Fomitopsis rosea

Gloeophyllum carbonarium

Gloeophyllum protractum

Gloiodon strigosus

Hydnellum gracilipes

Leptoporus mollis

Leptopotus erubescens

Meruliopsis albostraminea

Meruliopsis taxicola

Odonticium romellii

Oligoporus sericeomollis

Onnia leporina

Perenniporia subacida

Phellinus abietis

Phellinus ferrugineofuscus

Phellinus lundellii

Phellinus nigrolimitatus

Pine conk – Phellinus pini

Phellinus viticola

Phellodon secretus

Phlebia centrifuga

Postia calvenda

Postia lateritia

Postia parva

Pseudomerulius aureus

Punctularia strigozonata

Pycnoporellus fulgens

Rhodonia placenta

Sidera lenis

Sistotremastrum suecicum

Skeletocutis brevispora

Skeletocutis chrysella

Skeletocutis odora

Skeletocutis stellae

Steccherinum collabens

Trichaptum laricinum

Frizzled crisp-moss – Tortella tortuosa

Source: Monikäyttömetsien lajistoselvitys 2023 [Report on species in multiple-use forests]. Metsähallituksen Metsätalouden julkaisuja 77.

Tero Karjalainen | English translation: Heli Mäntyranta

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