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Jalkanen R.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
Forests | Year: 2016

Needle pathogens of larch (Larix spp.) in the Nordic countries are under-studied. Their incidence in Finland tends to be low and local, and this may be a function of enemy release, since species of larch were introduced to the region. Here, the ecology and incidence of larch needle pathogens and the abiotic factors that also affect larch in northern Finland are reviewed. Field observations and related laboratory analyses during the past 35 years have mainly been obtained near the Kivalo Research Area within the Arctic Circle, Finnish Lapland. The relatively recent introduction of Hypodermella laricis is a primary focus. This pathogen is not only new to Nordic countries, but can cause severe outbreaks, defoliation and crown-thinning in the canopies of all ages of most planted larch species worldwide. Symptoms of H. laricis clearly differ from those of Mycosphaerella laricina; the latter has affected Larix sibirica at high latitudes for decades. The effects of Meria laricis, Lophodermium laricinum, various rust fungi, and wind and frost are also discussed. © 2016 by the authors.


Huotari N.,University of Oulu | Tillman-Sutela E.,University of Oulu | Moilanen M.,University of Oulu | Laiho R.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

The increasing use of wood fuels to replace fossil fuels in energy and heat production results in increasing amounts of waste in the form of ash. Since wood ash contains nutrients that trees need in the right proportions, except for N, it is a potentially excellent forest fertiliser. However, any harmful elements, e.g., heavy metals are also concentrated in the ash, which has raised concern about possible adverse effects that ash fertilisation could induce in the environment. A considerable body of new results has been published on ash fertilisation impacts on, e.g., heavy metal concentrations in berries and mushrooms, ground vegetation, soil microbial processes, greenhouse gas emissions and watercourses. In this review, we synthesise this information to map the environmental benefits and risks related to ash fertilisation. We pay special attention to peatland forests, N-rich ecosystems where ash may induce considerable increases in timber production, but for which a thorough evaluation of environmental impacts has been lacking. The longest monitoring periods currently span more than five decades. In well-targeted sites, ash increases tree production and/or reduces soil acidity for decades. No enrichment of heavy metals in the food webs or leaching of heavy metals to watercourses has been reported. CO2 emissions increase in the longer term (10-50years), especially from N-rich peat soils. Also, changes in plant community may be so extensive that ash application cannot be recommended where conservation of the original vegetation is required. Immobilisation of heavy metals in soil depends on the neutralising effect of ash on soil acidity. The most crucial question that remains to be answered is how long this effect lasts, and what happens thereafter. Future research should investigate further whether heavy metals may accumulate in plant roots, even if above-ground parts remain unaffected. Finally, the duration of the impact of ash fertilisation on the nutrition of peatland trees, as well as optimal schedules of repeated fertilisations for different rotations, still need to be verified. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Viitala E.-J.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
European Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2016

German foresters in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century were in many respects pioneers of modern renewable natural resource economic thought. This article examines how modern resource-based thinking emerged in German forestry and how it was shaped by prevailing political ideologies and intellectual movements. It is shown that the idea of the capital nature and value of forests was introduced in the mid-eighteenth century by Georg Heinrich Zincke, one of the earliest major German economists. His compatriots in mining and forestry took these economic principles further, presenting a few years later explicit comparisons on the profitability of different forest management regimes. These pioneering insights and calculations, published almost exactly 250 years ago, prompted further development of modern forest economic thinking. This intellectual process culminated in the discovery of the celebrated Faustmann model, perhaps the oldest formal description of natural resource use that is still theoretically valid. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Viitala E.-J.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2015

A common perception in forest and natural resource economics is that the celebrated 'Faustmann formula' was discovered in 1849 and that the 'Faustmann rule' or Faustmann-Pressler solution to the optimal forest rotation age was derived from it a decade later by Max Robert Pressler. This paper shows that the modern perspective to the valuation of forests was presented in German territorial states much earlier than has previously been thought. In 1805 a competent forest mathematician Johann Hossfeld showed explicitly how forest value can be derived under both intermittent and sustained yield management, thus discovering the Faustmann formula. The study also shows that the close intellectual and professional connections among the first German 'forest economists' seem to have played a key role in the diffusion of modern forest economic principles from Hossfeld and his contemporaries to Faustmann and Pressler, and perhaps even more generally to modern capital theory. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


The effect of wood ash (0, 6, 12, and 24 t ha-1) on the nutrient concentrations and biomass production in willows (Salix viminalis and S. x dasyclados) and birches (Betula pendula and B. pubescens) on two cutaway peats was studied in greenhouse conditions. In addition to ash, all treatments included fertilisation with nitrogen (150 kg N ha-1). The largest amount of wood ash increased the pH from 4.0 to 7.3 for Aitoneva peat and from 5.0 to 7.5 for Piipsanneva peat. Increasing the amount of ash also significantly increased extractable phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium concentrations in peat – even the smallest dose increased concentrations manifold compared to unfertilised peats. The growth of the studied species was affected by both peat type and fertilisation treatment. Unfertilised willows and willows fertilised with nitrogen died in Aitoneva peat and grew poorly in Piipsanneva peat. Biomass production of birches in unfertilised peat was low. Nitrogen fertilisation without ash did not increase growth. The best growth was recorded with the lowest dose of ash (6 t ha-1). Ash fertilisation significantly increased the foliar concentrations of phosphorus and potassium in all species studied and decreased those of calcium and magnesium. The study indicated that the original peat characteristics affect growth of seedlings even when the sites are fertilised. Wood ash proved to be a suitable fertiliser in afforestation of cutaway peatlands. © 2016, Lietuvos Misku Institutas. All rights reserved.


Hario M.,Natural Resources Institute Finland | Rintala J.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
Waterbirds | Year: 2016

After an increase from the 1930s through the mid-1990s, the populations of the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), the Lesser Black-backed Gull (L. fuscus fuscus), and the Great Black-backed Gull (L. marinus) in Finland are currently declining at rates of 0.5%, 2.7%, and 1.5% per annum, respectively. Although now declining in numbers, the Herring Gull is still the dominant gull species on Finnish coasts. The nominate Lesser Black-backed Gull, formerly the most abundant large gull in the Baltic Sea, is now considered endangered over its entire range. The Great Black-backed Gull has largely followed the trajectories of the other two species, but in much lower numbers. The decline of the Lesser Black-backed Gull may have been caused by severe reproductive failures due to pollutants and predation, while the factors behind the declines of the other two species are largely unknown.


Salmi P.,Natural Resources Institute Finland
Sociologia Ruralis | Year: 2015

In many European areas, recent transitions in rural development can be described as a shift from an emphasis on food production to a diversity of new forms of natural resource utilisation. This shift towards post-productivism is characteristic to many coastal areas, where commercial fisheries try to adapt their strategies with other activities, interests and ideologies, such as the protection of biodiversity, leisure use and tourism. This article analyses opportunities and governance arrangements that support commercial fishers' adaptation within a post-productivist setting, focusing on the Archipelago Sea region in southwest Finland. Relying on interview, survey and documentary material, the case-study recognises new forms of multifunctional activities that enhance the viability and resilience of coastal communities and also deliver benefits to the environmental and leisure sectors. © 2015 European Society for Rural Sociology.


News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: phys.org

The bulk of the protein on our plates originates in Brazil, because the protein fodder consumed by food-producing animals consists mostly of soy grown there. If the vision proposed by the ScenoProt project, coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), becomes reality, by 2030 our food production will no longer be dependent on a handful of large Brazilian companies. "This project seeks to increase Finland's self-sufficiency in protein production from the current less-than-twenty to sixty per cent. A similar change must take place in the whole of Europe, as soy cultivation destroys rain forest in Brazil, accelerating the climate change," says Principal Research Scientist Anne Pihlanto of Luke. New foodstuffs pave the way to a healthier diet Efforts are taken to increase self-sufficiency in protein protection by developing foodstuffs in which protein originates in new sources, such as insects and mushrooms, and by processing vegetable raw materials to form more usable products. By 2030, we will be in better health because we will consume less meat and more vegetables. "Foodstuffs developed in the course of the project will be turned into products, making them well-known brands that are attractive to consumers," Pihlanto says. Consumers are engaged in the planning of foodstuffs The ScenoProt project will span six years, with the protein production problem being investigated from a number of perspectives. The research conducted at Luke is related to plant production, animal nutrition, processing technology and food healthiness, as well as to the bearing capacity of nature. Futurologists at the University of Turku are investigating various ways of achieving the objectives set for the year 2030. The University of Jyväskylä is testing the practical options with a number of companies. Dutch TNO is the best expert concerning the economic aspects associated with the breeding of insects, while the University of Helsinki is involved in the research focused on the various health impacts. In addition, a company called Makery will bring their expertise in product planning and consumer surveys to the project. Consumers will be engaged in the planning of prototypes for new types of foodstuffs within the scope of the project. The marketing potential of new foodstuffs both on the domestic and export markets will be surveyed. Explore further: Products of biotechnological origin using vegetable and fruit by-products generated by the industry


News Article | November 17, 2015
Site: phys.org

A seal sock allows a seal to breathe on the surface while it is trapped inside a trap net. Credit: Mervi Kunnasranta Understanding the differences in the behaviour of different seal species can help in the choice of the most effective measures to mitigate the seal-fishery conflict and in the sustainable management of seal stocks. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland provides novel and detailed information of the movements of ringed seals and grey seals in the Baltic Sea. The PhD thesis of Sari Oksanen, MSc, discovered that Baltic ringed seals range over large areas during the open water season, while most grey seals remain on smaller areas near their terrestrial resting sites. Differences in behaviour call for different management approaches The stocks of the Baltic grey and ringed seals collapsed during the 20th century and in the 1970s, both stocks consisted of only circa 5,000 seals. The populations have been recovering since the 1990s. At the same time, the losses caused by seals to coastal fisheries and fish farming have increased. The differences in the behaviour of the seal species influence the effectiveness of the measures to mitigate the seal-fishery conflict and sustainable management of seal stocks. Only male grey seals were observed to visit pontoon traps, and grey seals made trips between their terrestrial resting sites and foraging areas. Their foraging areas were situated to river estuaries and other shallow coastal areas, which are also important for coastal fishery. The observed fidelity to given foraging areas suggests that removing individual seals away from fishing gear could be one method to mitigate the damage caused by grey seals. Such removal would focus on those individuals that repeatedly visit the vicinity of fishing gear. Ringed seals, on the other hand, did not exhibit similar fidelity, but they ranged over larger areas and had several spatially distinct foraging areas. This suggests that removing ringed seals away from fishing gear may not be effective in reducing losses caused by them. Therefore, the development of fishing gear and fishing practices could provide more effective mitigation measures. Although ringed seals move over wide areas during the open water season, especially adults are quite sedentary in the breeding season in the winter. In contrast, grey seals left their open-water home ranges during ice formation and occupied areas with little ice-cover. Therefore, although the extent of overall movement was similar in both species, their seasonal patterns of movement differed. The other side of the coin in the seal-fishery conflict is the by-catch mortality of seals in fishing gear. A device to reduce seal by-catch in trap nets, a so-called seal sock, was tested. The sock enables a seal to have access to breathe on the surface while it is trapped inside a trap net. The sock proved to be an effective way of reducing ringed seal mortality in trap nets, but it did not work as well with grey seals. Reducing incidental by-catch is one method to develop sustainable fisheries, as is also required by the MSC certificate granted to fisheries and fish. Although both of the seal stocks have been increasing in recent decades, climate change, for example, can pose new threats. The breeding success of the ringed seal, in particular, is very dependent on sufficient snow and ice. Furthermore, information on the movements of seals can also be used in protecting important seal habitats. The movements of Baltic seals were investigated with GPS satellite telemetry in cooperation with Natural Resources Institute Finland. The findings were originally published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Movement Ecology, and PLOS ONE. The doctoral dissertation, entitled Spatial ecology of the grey seal and ringed seal in the Baltic Sea - seeking solutions to the coexistence of seals and fisheries, is available for download at http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1894-9/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1894-9.pdf Explore further: Gray seals consume as much fish as the fishing industry catches More information: Sari M. Oksanen et al. A Novel Tool to Mitigate By-Catch Mortality of Baltic Seals in Coastal Fyke Net Fishery, PLOS ONE (2015). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127510


News Article | December 3, 2015
Site: phys.org

In 2013, the European Commission restricted the use of neonicotinoid products, banning them in the seed treatment of crops favoured by bees, such as oilseed and turnip rape. Neonicotinoids are neurotoxins used as active ingredients in pesticides. The decision was based on the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) risk assessment, according to which neonicotinoid use on crops attractive to bees is harmful to bees and other pollinators. Finland objected to the Commission's decision. Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira launched the Neomehi project to examine the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees in the cultivation of spring oilseed crops. The suspected risks of their detrimental effects were observed in more southerly farming conditions. The research conducted in Finland yielded different results from the studies on which the Commission based its decision. "Neonicotinoid seed treatment seems to have no immediate impact on bee survival in Finland," says Luke researcher Jarmo Ketola, who headed the soon-to-be-completed project. The Neomehi project studied the impact of seed treatments of turnip rape on bees under field conditions during the growing and winter seasons. Neonicotinoid spraying was performed on part of the trial fields in both summers when the plants were in flower. Crop growth and the numbers of flying pollinators were monitored, and the success of test bee hives was assessed. Additionally, residues in plants, bees, pollen and nectar were analysed. The results show that residues of neonicotinoids migrate to bee hives in pollen and nectar. "The residue levels in the samples collected from the hives were so low that acute harm to bees is unlikely. However, risks associated with reproduction and orientation behaviour cannot be ruled out," says Evira senior researcher Kati Hakala. Entrepreneur Lauri Ruottinen, who provided bee care research services for the project, agrees. "Neonicotinoid treatments did not cause acute harm to bee hives during the study. The trial design does not, however, eliminate other factors that may cause changes in the number of adult bees," he notes. There are currently no alternatives to neonicotinoids. Small beetles, such as flea beetles, interfere with the growth of oilseed and turnip rape seedlings in the spring, and can lower the quality and quantity of the crop. In Finland, it is feared that the pesticide ban will affect the crop certainty of oilseed plants and reduce farmers' willingness to grow them. "This would jeopardise the use of oilseed and turnip rape as domestic raw material in vegetable oil, food and fuel, and as a source of protein in farm animal feed. Flowering oilseed and turnip rape are also important food sources for bees, and if their cultivation is reduced, so will the benefits of crop rotation," explains researcher Jarmo Ketola. The area under oilseed crops has decreased in recent years, but not dramatically, since the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) has granted special authorisation for the use of seed treatment products both last year and this year. Special authorisation has also been granted for 2016. EFSA is currently analysing new research data on the use of neonicotinoid products. It is not yet known when the European Commission will review its 2013 decision to restrict the use of these products. Explore further: Sussex bee scientists question value of neonics ban

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