Mikael and Heli, practicians of multiple use forestry
From Helsinki 100 km east you find the town of Lovisa, an area with active agriculture and forestry. One of the many tenders of the privately owned, beautiful rural landscapes in that region is Mikael Nygård (47) on his farm.
Mikael and Heli in their main room in front of the big wooden fire place
He is married to Heli, who has a full-time job outside of the farm, but despite that assists for example with planting. Her special hobby is to use twigs and other non-wood products for ornamental purposes, and also to pick blue-berries and lingon-berries. Strolling in the forest just for fun also belong to the leisure activities of the couple. The grown up daughters Anna and Jenny participated as teen-agers in planting tree seedlings, Mikael and Heli in their main room in front and now they are proud to see how their trees are growing!
The farm consists of 65 hectares arable land and over 100 hectares forest, which is above the average for Finland. Mikael took over after his father in 2000, a shift that was well planned a long time before. The local forest management association, an organization run by the forest owners themselves is close to Mikael and assists him in forestry operations and marketing the wood. In addition to being a member, he has functioned in the council of the association for two periods and also been elected board member twice. Additionally, he is active in several of the bodies of the Mickelspiltom village, taking care of road and water and other joint issues. After finishing his agricultural studies Mikael was employed by a forest entrepreneur to transport and harvest wood. This was a very useful investment in technological know-how. Now Mikael has own equipment suitable for thinning operations, while he outsources final cuttings to the local forest management association. He is also frequently asked by neighbors to assist them in thinning, although time does not allow him to accept all requests. “There is a strong tradition on our farm to practice active forest management ourselves, but regeneration cuttings are more efficient to do with heavier equipment than I have, says Mikael. I use natural regeneration when the soil and other conditions allow us to do so, which does not occur that often. Another principle that I have is to enhance biodiversity. There are no monocultures in our forest. Most of them consist of several tree species, and I like to keep it that way, also in order to reduce the risk of various calamities.”Mikael has had some problems with bark beetles in the old spruce stands. He is regularly monitoring the situation and has professional help to identify affected stands by the local forest management association. He harvests all the dead and dying spruces and has them sawn to be used at the farm, e.g. for building sheds for his tractors and other equipment. “
In this pile of sawn goods, you can find Scots pine, Norway spruce (also from “bark beetle trees”), black alder and aspen. Mikael and Heli find good use at their farm for all of these various species and dimensions, that mostly are less attractive at the wood market.
Despite the risk for insect and fungi attacks and some other challenges, we have a very positive attitude regarding the future of forestry. I am convinced that forest bio-economy will remain one of our main economic pillars in the future. Hence, one main, well accepted principle among us forest owners, to nurture and improve what our predecessors handed over to us, will continue to be most important for keeping our forestry sustainable, he concludes.”