Metsä Group has announced its plans to boost biodiversity on its land areas in Kemi, Finland. Covering more than 650 hectares, the designated site encompasses Metsä Group’s mill area and other areas in the Kemi urban environment. The Group’s operations in Kemi include a bioproduct mill, currently under construction, and a paperboard mill. The company aims to increase regional biodiversity at all its mill locations across Europe, which number more than 20.
The goal is to modify land use on the Metsä Group Kemi site to improve the state of nature in the industrial environment. The special features of local nature will be taken into account in the project, and the living conditions of endangered species will be improved. Biodiversity in the area will be increased experimentally and by adopting new operating methods.
For example, more than 12 hectares of meadows and sunlit habitats will be added to the Kemi mill area. Only local vegetation will be used in establishing open habitats, and these habitats will be made suitable for endangered species. Various other approaches to increasing the biodiversity of industrial environments will also be tested on the mill site.
The biodiversity plans will also extend outside the mill site to land areas owned by Metsä Group that belong to the Kemi built environment. Residents use these areas for recreational purposes. New ways to increase biodiversity are being developed collaboratively with the town of Kemi.
“Improving the state of nature is one of the goals of Metsä Group’s regenerative forestry approach, and the Kemi pilot project will expand its scope from the forest to the mill area and urban environments. Their biodiversity can also be improved if you have the will and competence and if things are done together. This could be a course adopted industry-wide,” says Ilkka Hämälä, Metsä Group’s President and CEO.
Metsä Group’s collaborative network will grow as the project progresses. One of the key partners is the Villi Vyöhyke association, a leading expert in the biodiversity of the built environment.
“Metsä Group is showing courage, as well as an impressive and high ambition in protecting biodiversity in Kemi. The scope of the new nature targets is exceptionally wide and varied, encompassing the built environment as part of regenerative land use. Metsä Group is a big operator, which gives our actions greater leverage for a wider cultural change towards the international mainstream of biodiversity protection,” says Jere Nieminen, Chair of Villi Vyöhyke.
“Metsä Group’s initiative is important for the town of Kemi. Together, we can develop and strengthen the pioneering role that the Sea Lapland region plays in protecting our nature. The coexistence of industry and nature benefits all of us,” says Matti Ruotsalainen, Mayor of Kemi.
The Kemi pilot project is now underway. The various measures concerning other Metsä Group mills will be carried out gradually over the next few years, using the operating models developed in Kemi.
Metsä Group intends to make the mill areas’ biodiversity plans part of the environmental reporting of mills. In the next few years, the company also plans to collaborate with its stakeholders to develop the plans for the built environment into internationally approved criteria and standards.