According to the Board proposal, Metsähallitus will pay EUR 96 million in dividends to the State. Timber sales account for the majority of profits. The financial prosperity created by Metsähallitus is distributed in the form of wages and remuneration, taxes, procurement and dividends to various parts of society.
As a major land manager and employer, Metsähallitus has an important role to play in Northern and Eastern Finland, where its operations have a considerable impact on regional economies. In 2016, Metsähallitus employed 1,400 people, of whom nearly 90 percent worked outside the capital region. Metsähallitus also uses the services provided by private entrepreneurs, supporting entrepreneurship in rural areas and small towns in particular.
Metsähallitus purchases all timber harvesting and transport plus a major share of forest management and forest improvement services from entrepreneurs in the sector. In 2016, Metsähallitus’ pool of contractors included around 420 forestry businesses that employed 2,000 people. Tourism and recreation in nature conservation and hiking areas also provided work for entrepreneurs, both in tourism and the maintenance of sites.
National parks, hiking areas, multiple-use forests and waters managed by Metsähallitus, along with the associated services, road networks and hiking facilities, provide excellent opportunities for fishing, hunting and hiking. More than 5.7 million tourists visited national parks, hiking areas and other recreational nature conservation and hiking destinations in 2016.
The number of visits to national parks increased by seven per cent from the previous year, and the impact on the local economy of spending by visitors increased by 21 per cent. A total of 138,000 fishing and hunting licences were sold. Visitors to recreational destinations and by wilderness activities generated total revenue of more than EUR 230 million, and employment equating to 2,165 person-years of work.
The indirect financial impacts are considerable. Visitor surveys and calculations indicate that, in 2016, visitors to national parks estimated the value of beneficial health impacts to be EUR 281 million in total.
Property development, land sales, the utilisation of wind power and rock and gravel resources form part of Metsähallitus' core business alongside forestry, and account for part of its revenue.
Land use planning on state-owned land enables Metsähallitus to design plots for a range of purposes, including waterside holiday homes, residential properties as well as tourist destinations and business premises. The aim is to promote local economies and vitality in sparsely populated areas in particular. Planning is regulated by the Finnish Government’s principles for planning on Metsähallitus’ land, which emphasise the need to preserve the natural, recreational and cultural value of areas, ensure public access under everyman’s rights, and promote social responsibilities such as preserving reindeer husbandry and the Sámi culture. In 2016, major planning projects began in Northern Finland, to enable the development of the tourism centres in Ruka and Saariselkä.
Property transactions help the Finnish State’s property portfolio to meet the needs of society: land is mainly purchased to meet the Defence Forces’ requirements on strategic grounds and for forestry purposes, with priority being given to land adjacent to existing state-owned properties. Metsähallitus strives to sell only small isolated plots located far away from large state-owned forestland areas, arable land areas and co-owned forests. Water areas are very rarely sold, and usually only in connection with forestland. The average size of forest holdings sold in 2016 was only nine hectares. No holdings in excess of a hundred hectares were sold.
› The Popularity of National Parks Is Bringing Enhanced Economic Benefits
› Vallisaari Island Became a Favourite in Its First Summer
› Development of Fishing Destinations Boosts Wilderness Tourism
› Land Use Planning to Support Tourism Businesses
Photo: Juha Nyman/City of Pudasjärvi