Only through a diverse gene family can Finnish trees survive in changing environmental conditions, such as climate change. In the popular recreational area of Mäntänvuori, there is a gene reserve forest where the genetic resources of spruce are preserved. Spruce seeds are harvested from the forest for the first time in a cooperation project between Finsilva Oyj and The Natural Resources Institute Finland.
A total amount of 25 Mäntänvuori spruces are being felled in October-November in order to collect cones and their seeds which are then stored in the seed bank of The Natural Resources Institute Finland. Spruces in the area are valuable because of their inherent diversity, as the trees are naturally born, i.e. they are not planted or sown.
At the seed bank, the spruce seeds of Mäntänvuori will survive for tens of years and will be used to rebuild the area's stand when needed, for example, after a storm or a forest fire. Seeds can also be used in forest genetic research to represent the natural spruce origin in the area. In addition, preservation ensures that the diverse genetic heritage of Finnish trees is preserved. Inherited biodiversity is a prerequisite for species' ability to adapt to environmental changes, such as climate change.
- Over the millennia, tree species in Finland have adapted to certain areas. For example, if the forest in Mäntänvuori was to be destroyed, it would not be possible to plant seeds collected from Rovaniemi. It has not adapted to the climate of Mäntänvuori, says Leena Yrjänä, Forestry Specialist at The Natural Resources Institute Finland.
For the first time, the seeds of Mäntänvuori are collected
The purpose of the seed bank is to serve as an emergency repository for genes, but the most important method of preservation is the gene reserve forest itself. In the gene reserve forest, the genus of a tree species is protected under natural conditions, in its original habitat.
The Mäntänvuori area has been a gene reserve forest for spruce since 1995, but for the first time seeds are being collected. After harvesting the cones, the seeds are shelled, dried in a mild heat and finally cooled to -18 degrees Celsius and stored in the seed bank of Forest Trees Genetic Reserve Project at The Natural Resources Institute Finland.
- Spruce blooms in southern Finland are at best around every ten years. Now the long-awaited cone harvest is maturing, so we can collect seeds for storage, Yrjänä says.
The majority, about three-quarters, of Finland's gene reserve forests are state-owned. One of the few private sector owners is Finsilva Oyj which owns the Mäntänvuori reserve forest.
"Finsilva Oyj is engaged in diverse forestry and wants to safeguard and promote the health and sustainability of forests also by maintaining diverse genetic resources," says Harri Viitaniemi, Managing Director of Finsilva Oyj.
- Collecting spruce seeds is important. This ensures that valuable and local seed material is also available in future. The aim is to preserve the Mäntänvuori area as a versatile recreational and protected forest area for the people.
For further information:
Harri Viitaniemi, Managing Director, Finsilva Oyj
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 370 6902
Leena Yrjänä, Forestry Specialist, The Natural Resources Institute Finland
email@example.com, tel. +358 295 325 240