Planting is the starting point for new forest growth.
Forest regeneration is the cornerstone of responsible forest use. After final felling, new forest growth must be ensured. The establishment of new, high-quality forest stands is the most important investment in forestry. It is a key factor in supporting multiple ecosystem services enabled by trees and the basis for future income from wood sales.
Nowadays, planting seedlings is the most common forest cultivation method in Finland. Seedlings, because they already have some growth, are able to compete better with other vegetation. Seedlings that have been bred have better chances of survival. Planted seedlings must be genetically adapted to local climate conditions.
All the main tree species of Finland – Spruce (Picea abies), Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Birch (Betula pendula) can be planted. For Pine, natural regeneration and sowing are also commonly used. Planting is the main cultivation method for Spruce.
To ensure successful planting, preparing the soil properly is of utmost importance. Seedlings are planted in spots that can provide them with suitable growing conditions. This gives them the best possibilities for putting out roots, helps protect them from pests and provides the right moisture conditions for growth.
The time for planting is during springtime and early summer, when the growing season has already started but other vegetation have not yet reached their full size. Another possibility is to plant in the autumn when temperatures are still favorable and the growth of other vegetation has ended. Planting is still mostly done manually, even though mechanized planting has been in use for a long time. Mechanized planting is best suited to soils that are easily planted, i.e., not too rocky or steeply sloped.
Conifer seedlings are treated with pesticide to fight a bark beetle called Large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis), the biggest biotic risk for young seedling stands. Because of the chemical treatment, seedlings must be handled with caution. The seedlings and planting equipment must be kept away from water systems and workers handling seedlings must wear protective gloves. The treated seedlings themselves are not hazardous for the environment when stored and planted according to instructions.
In thinning, growing space for best trees is created.