North Karelia (NK) Living Lab, Finland

Responsible institution: UEF, FFC, EFI, BITCOMP

Responsible person: Frank Berninger

Contact e-mail:

Other persons (contacts): Blas Mola (; Tahamina Khanam (;



Forest management goals in the LL: The North Karelia Living Lab focuses on sustainable forest management practices and biodiversity enhancement, integrating silvicultural activities and ecosystem resilience strategies.

Goals of the project: The goals include fostering socio-economic sustainability, enhancing biodiversity, improving ecosystem resilience with a focus on small private forest owners.

Restoration scientific challenges: Challenges include adapting to climate change impacts, integrating conservation and production goals, and enhancing forest resilience.

Potential upscaling: Silvicultural approaches can be scaled up to similar regions in Southern and Central Finland.

Nature Contribution to People: Forestry in North Karelia provides over 6 000 jobs and over 2 billion € in annual turnover. However, forests have, also, a large cultural importance through hiking, berry picking or hunting.


Living Lab information:

Area size: In 2019, protected forest land in NK covered 93,700 hectares (6.3%). Including poorly productive forest land, it totaled 123,700 hectares (7.6% of total land; LUKE statistics, 2022b).

Current forest/vegetation type: Conifers leading the NK’s most of the forest area. Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Mixed Scots pine-birch forest i.e., Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris, Siberian spruce are the main tree species.

Current management: The Finnish Forest Centre (FFC), also known as "Metsäkeskus," serves as a crucial entity in forest governance, actively promoting the forestry sector and providing guidance to landowners. Forest owners’ rights, Forest Damages Prevention Act, Animal Damages Act, Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry, Nature Conservation Act, Private Roads Act and other laws affecting forest use is governed by FFC (Metsäkeskus 2022). In contrast, Metsähallitus, established by decree in 1921, is tasked with managing, overseeing, and promoting Finnish forestry. However, its responsibilities do not extend to private forestry areas.

Silvicultural and forest improvement activities in the NK region include clearing regeneration areas, patch scarification, disc trenching, mounding, prescribed burning, seeding, planting, grass suppression, tending seedling stands, improving young stands, pruning, initial clearings of felling areas, root-rot disease prevention, forest fertilisation, planning and maintenance of ditch networks and forest roads.

Between 2002 and 2014, activities such as patch scarification, planting, improving young stands, and maintaining forest roads became the main investment focus for non-industrial private forests. This trend extended across all forest types, with a notable emphasis on basic improvement of forest roads (LUKE statistics, 2022a).

Key-stakeholders: The North Karelia region is a hub for forest activities, with diverse actors contributing to shaping the industry. Key participants include forest machinery and wood logistics companies like JohnDeere, Wood Hub, and Kesla. Packaging mills are UPM, StoraEnso, Enocell, Kaivospuu, and Binderholz, along with numerous sawmills, are dispersed throughout the NK region. Major wood construction companies like Rakennus toimisto K. Tervo Oy also play significant roles.

Moreover, various networking, digitalization, and wood research hubs are active in the region, including the ERIAFF network, Bitcomp, Arbonaut, Green Hub, Wood Joensuu, Bioregions Facility, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), and European Forest Institute (EFI). These entities contribute to research, innovation, and collaboration in the forestry sector.

Ownership: In NK, commercial woodland comprises 96% of the total area, with private, state, and company ownership accounting for 55%, 24%, and 21%, respectively. Natural and old forests are scarce, primarily consisting of monoculture forests (Briers et al., 2021). The average forest estate size of the Finnish private owner is about 30 ha, and the average age group of the owner is about 60 (MTK 2014).

Socio-economic opportunities & challenges: Climate change might have considerable impacts on the dynamics of the managed boreal forests. Due to climate change the major abiotic and biotic risks in the Northern boreal forests are  snow loading, heatwaves and droughts, windstorms, forest fires, pathogens of trees and major insect pests (Venäläinen 2020). In Northern Finland, Norway spruce and Birch are more vulnerable, while Scots pine is less so compared to other regions (Ikonen 2020). The wind and snow damage risk in the North is lower and higher, respectively, due to its geographical position (Ikonen 2020). Despite these vulnerabilities, forest growth projections for the region are notably higher compared to other regions in Finland (Venäläinen 2020).

Expected impact on local communities: The earnings from NK’s biosphere reserve sites (i.e., Ruunaa, Koli, Patvinsuo, and Petkeljärvi) significantly contribute to income generation and employment opportunities. In 2019, the earnings from these four sites amounted to 25.5 million euros, providing direct employment for 204 individuals per year (Metsähallitus 2019). Additionally, in 2017, the forestry and fisheries sector contributed approximately 6% to the domestic production of the NK region, creating around 2.5% of employment opportunities (Metsäkeskus, 2020). Furthermore, in 2018, the gross interest of total earnings reached about 211 million euros, with private forest owners accounting for 76% of these earnings (Metsäkeskus, 2020).

Data collection:

  • Soil microbiome in rhizotrons and DNA metabarcoding.
  • Survey of mammals using wildlife cameras
  • Tree and understory plant inventories.
  • Near real time monitoring of forest damages and their validation
  • Modelling of abiotic and biotic damages.



Modification date: 05 June 2024 | Publication date: 20 September 2023 | By: Ammar SHIHAN