TIPS & IDEAS  /  April 2021

Birches have a special place in the Finnish soulscape

Birch is a symbol of new beginnings, and in spring, when the birch clothes itself in bright green, it adds ethereal beauty to Nordic woods. The tiny, bright green leaves that burst out of buds in spring are formed as perfect little “mouse ears” and mark the which for most Finns is the signal that the warmth of summer is soon upon us.

In April, for just a few weeks, birches produce sap that is like a sweet-tasting syrup. This sap has been utilised since ancient times and the month of April has also been referred to as “Mahlakuu or “mahlan aju” which translates to the month of sap. Birch sap tapping can be dated back to the early 1500’s and is still considered today to have health benefits due to its high content of antioxidants and minerals.

Girl looks out of the window below the wooden lamp.

Spring is also when birch saplings are planted. Once the ground has thawed and warmed up to at least 8 degrees Celsius, but still holds moisture from the winter is the perfect planting time for slightly larger saplings. The moist ground allows them to rapidly establish their roots.

Once the leaf buds open, the tiny leaves grow fast, becoming bigger, thicker and darker as summer wears on. The birch’s rapid growth in the beginning allows smaller saplings to be successfully planted slightly later in the year, still giving these young trees time to get established before winter sets in. Finland’s long, long summer nights, where the sun hardly sets creates a perfect amount of sunlight for vigorous growth.

Family is planting a birch sapling.

A birch is usually ready for felling after 40 years. In parallel with harvesting the logs, new saplings are planted. This is the foundation for sustainable use of birch and enables the local ecosystems to continue to thrive. The birch used for the production of Secto Design lamps are all grown in PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified, ecologically and socially sustainable forestry from commercial forests. Once the wood arrives at Secto Design’s production, the actual manufacturing process for birch products requires less energy than the equivalent process for alternative materials, reducing the environmental burden.

Hands of a family and a tree.

Forests are the most important renewable natural resource in Finland and an important part of our national heritage. The majority of Finnish forests are owned by private owners. They own around 60% of forest land and 70% of the tree growth. Privately owned forests produce 80 % of domestically used material. It is estimated that private forest ownership will remain high as the majority of forests remain within the same family through generations.

Photo by Fredrik Bäckman & Teemu Reunila / Unlit Films and Rauno Korhonen, Säkylä.