AGROFORESTRY in FINLAND
Even though agroforestry is often not immediately associated with cool climatic zones, it has a long tradition in Finland too. Examples include reindeer husbandry, the collection of non-wood forest products such as berries, mushrooms and wild herbs, and grazing of wood pastures. Farming in northern climates is challenging but there would be opportunities to generate additional income, enhance delivery of ecosystem services and increase climate-resilience through new combinations of traditional and novel agroforestry practices.
Forest and wood pasture grazing was still common in Finland in the 1930s, but disappeared almost completely since the 1950s with the intensification of agriculture and forestry. In Finland, there were still about 2 million hectares of forest and wood pastures in the 1950s. Since then, the area of wood pastures (In Finnish: hakamaita) has decreased to about 1900-3300 ha and the area of forest pastures (In Finnish: metsälaitumia) to about 5000-9000 ha. The quality of the remaining woody traditional biotopes has deteriorated considerably due to eutrophication and forestry operations. However, the maintenance of traditional biotopes, their landscape values and delivered ecosystem services provide opportunities for entrepreneurship and development of modern silvopastoral systems. Government support is until now the main source of income for farms managing rural biotopes important for biodiversity and traditional rural landscapes by grazing. Nevertheless, there would be a range of opportunities to develop additional sources of side-or main income such as e.g. ecotourism, therapy and well-being services (Greencare), wild berry and mushroom cultivation, honey production, bioenergy production and direct sales of pasture meat.
Over the last couple of years, agroforestry has gained interest from Finnish farmers. Cultivation of mushrooms (e.g. chaga, shiitake, oyster mushroom) has gained popularity and is a promising way of generating additional income from farmland forest and producing food in an ecological way. Some farmers have established new alley cropping areas with fruit trees, willow, alder, walnut and hazel. Due to climate change, the usually wet summers have become more dry in northern climates too, which makes alley cropping a very interesting option for limiting drought damage and erosion problems in Finland too.
AGROFORESTRY ASSOCIATIONS in FINLAND
At present, in Finland there is no national agroforestry association. The Finnish Agroforestry Network is an informal network coordinated by the Baltic Sea Action Group. It’s main aim is to exchange knowledge on agroforestry and the network organises excursions, field visits, trainings, network meetings and information events a couple of times per year.
AGROFORESTRY POLICIES in FINLAND
In Finland, there are support measures for establishing buffer strips and riparian buffers, maintenance of traditional rural biotopes and natural pastures, rearing of local breeds, honey production, apiculture, and free-range livestock (cows, sheep, goats, pigs, turkey’s, geese, duck, hens and broilers).
RELEVANT FINNISH AGROFORESTRY WEBSITES
- The Viikki Tropical Resources Institute of the University of Helsinki carries out agroforestry research in the tropics
- Finnish Regional Agroforestry Innovation Network (part of AFINET project)
- Finnish Agroforestry Network
- Finnish Reindeer Herders’ association
- The Grazing Bank – Laidunpankki - facilitates contacts between animal owners and land owners
TAKE A LOOK AT AGROFORESTRY in FINLAND
Traditional rural landscape near Somero