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UPM begins the transplantation of threatened species in a unique biodiversity project

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This spring, UPM will begin a transplantation project of rare and threatened wood-inhabiting fungi in co-operation with Natural Resources Institute Finland and the University of Helsinki. The aim of the project is to accelerate the reintroduction of species inhabiting deadwood to forests by planting these fungi to deadwood concentrations in the company forests. The project advances UPM’s target to improve the biodiversity of the company forests in Finland. Increasing deadwood is a key method for achieving this target.

"This is a completely new and a globally unique way to protect biodiversity", says Timo Lehesvirta, Sustainable Forestry Lead at UPM. Volume of decaying wood is the biggest difference affecting to forest species between sites reserved for wood production and natural forests. A quarter, i.e. approximately 5000, of forest species in Finland live on deadwood. Most of them are fungi and insect species. "The mycelia of fungi are grown in petri dishes. The mycelia are transplanted onto wooden pegs planted during the growing season to naturally developed deadwood and to deadwood made for the project", says Timo Lehesvirta.

"From a researcher’s point of view, new scientific knowledge on threatened species and fungal communities and practical nature conservation work are combined in a great way in this project. It’s rewarding to cooperate with a forestry company. We are looking forward to this project to proceed. The results obtained during the preliminary study are promising," says Reijo Penttilä, Project Manager and Research Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland.

The plantations consist of mycelia from more than 20 fungi species in total. Planted species include Amylocystis lapponica, Antrodia crassa and Haploporus odorus. The aim is to make the mycelia grow in deadwood trunks and later produce fruitbodies that release spores that start to germinate on new deadwood trunks. The spreading of mycelia in the trunk as well as accompanying species will be monitored with DNA analyses, and the incidences of fruitbodies with forest inventories.

"The polypores being transplanted in this project have become threatened, because suitable habitats - forests with high deadwood volumes - are rare. WWF aims to stop biodiversity loss of forests. We find this project interesting from that point of view", says Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General at WWF Finland.

"It is great to be part of creating completely new ways of protecting the biodiversity of forest nature. Measurements indicate that the amount of deadwood is increasing in UPM’s forests. Innovations, signs of positive effects and active collaboration with the most talented experts provide motivation for developing our operations to reach a common goal", concludes Timo Lehesvirta.

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