UPM supports Luke Finland, University of Helsinki study to explore novel way to boost populations of wood-decaying fungi; increasing the rare fungi will create new habitats for species living on decaying wood, thus promoting forest biodiversity

Sample article from our Forestry & Timberland

May 22, 2023 (press release) –

UPM supports a study of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the University of Helsinki to explore a novel way to boost populations of wood-decaying fungi. Increasing the rare fungi will create new habitats for species living on decaying wood, and thus promote forest biodiversity. UPM aims to increase awareness of biodiversity and this unique study by launching a campaign where tiny billboards call the smallest creatures of the forest to settle down in an environment where biodiversity is enhanced.

With the campaign UPM wants to show that even the small things can have an impact in the fight against global biodiversity loss.

“Roughly a quarter of species in Finnish forests depend on decaying wood. Therefore, one of the most purposeful actions on our Forest Action Programme’s biodiversity action plan is to double the amount of decaying wood in our own forests in Finland,” says Sami Oksa, Director, Global Forest Affairs.

“Endangered animal and plant species are near and dear to many, but quite little attention is paid to fungi and other small organisms. If we can make life better for them, the effects will be felt throughout the entire forest ecosystem,” Oksa continues.

Can tiny wooden pegs boost populations of endangered fungi?

UPM has offered its forests in Janakkala, Finland for the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the University of Helsinki, to put this unique study in action.

“We have planted mycelia of endangered species of wood-decaying fungi, such as Antrodia piceata or Perenniporia tenuis, on small wooden pegs. The pegs are then inserted into holes drilled in specific trees, some recently felled, and others naturally fallen. We monitor these trees to see if the mycelia manage to grow and spread, eventually producing fruit bodies and spores themselves,” explains Reijo Penttilä, a researcher from Luke in charge of the project.

The Luke-led research project is one of the first of its kind and examines transplantation to boost populations of wood-decaying fungi. A pilot experiment, concluded in 2016 in the University of Helsinki, showed promising signs of the method’s viability.

“Seven years after transplantation, three of the seven species planted had already produced fruit bodies, indicating that the method could promote further spread,” Penttilä tells.

“The study we’re conducting now is much more extensive, it’s the broadest of its kind in the world. We expect to see initial results later this year.”

UPM has a long-standing research collaboration with both the Luke and the University of Helsinki.

Strong visibility for an important theme together with Arla Finland, STARK Finland and Clear Channel

UPM challenges also other brands with biodiversity high on their sustainability agenda to join in by donating to biodiversity research. Arla Finland and the hardware retailer STARK Finland have joined the campaign by donating money for the Helsinki University biodiversity research.

“Construction affects the environment significantly, which is why Stark wants to champion sustainable building and support biodiversity by funding research. Decreasing our environmental load without forgetting the effects of our value chain and doing our part to curb biodiversity loss are important parts of our sustainability agenda. Through research, we can learn how to best support biodiversity”, says Anne Koskinen, Head of Sustainability at STARK Finland.

“The ecosystem services provided by nature form the basis for all food production, which is why supporting biodiversity is important for Arla. We want to continue to produce dairy products that support a nutritious, sustainable diet. This requires a diversity of even the smallest species from fungi to insects too. By participating in the campaign, we hope to increase awareness of the importance of biodiversity. The campaign also complements the work we do at Arla’s dairy farms in Finland to strengthen biodiversity”, states Saara Azbel, Head of Sustainability at Arla Finland.

The campaign is featured in outdoor advertisements displayed by Clear Channel in the Helsinki metropolitan area until around mid-June. To support the important biodiversity work highlighted by the campaign, Clear Channel has launched a brand-new advertising format that seeks to boost biodiversity. By donating to the University of Helsinki’s biodiversity research, brands can purchase campaign materials with their message featured on the campaign’s tiny billboards. The result is a new form of advertising that directly funds biodiversity research – marrying business interests with environmental targets.

In addition, UPM wants to showcase the campaign at Verla, the UNESCO World Heritage site in Kouvola, Finland. The wooden pegs with signs are placed along a popular forest trail of Verla during the summer.

“We welcome all to visit Verla during this summer. Not only to see and feel the billboards, but to enjoy the beautiful nature and the unique history of Verla,” Oksa concludes.

Read more: UPM Forest Action Programme

For further information please contact:
Sami Oksa, Director, UPM Global Forest Affairs, tel. +358 40 560 3474

UPM, Media Relations
Mon-Fri 9:00-16:00 EET
tel. +358 40 588 3284

We deliver renewable and responsible solutions and innovate for a future beyond fossils across six business areas: UPM Fibres, UPM Energy, UPM Raflatac, UPM Specialty Papers, UPM Communication Papers and UPM Plywood. As the industry leader in responsibility, we are committed to the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the science-based targets to mitigate climate change. We employ 17,200 people worldwide and our annual sales are approximately EUR 11.7 billion. Our shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. UPM Biofore – Beyond fossils. www.upm.com

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