Anne Ruuttula-Vasari: Barons Should Not Be Trusted:  Especially Not Lumber Barons

Swedish text here
This is a short presentation of one of the participating projects in the nordic project Cultural Processes in Nordic Woodland Communities

Two-thirds of Finland is covered by forest;  one quarter of Finlands land area is state-owned. These areas are managed by The National Board of Forestry (Metsähallitus, today The Forest and Park Service). The National Board of Forestry was created in 1851 to control Finland's state-owned forests. It was made permanent in May 1859, and Finland was divided into inspectorates, which were further subdivided into management districts. The areas were (and are) situated in eastern and northern part of Finland. The state-owned lands and waters covered and cover about twelve million hectares. The management district was headed by a forest officer, who was responsible for its supervision and management. The management districts were divided into wardens' districts, and each warden's district was controlled by a forest warden.
 Problems emerged due to illegal settlement in the forests of Northern Finland, and the central government tried to gain control over this region and to ensure that the settlers would not recklessly fell the forests. Persons settling in the state forests and paying land rent were called crown forest crofters.
 The local rural population was accustomed to exploiting the state-owned forests freely prior to the introduction of this system of forest administration.  In their capacity as representatives of the state, the new officials, i. e.  the forest officers, therefore often found themselves in a difficult position because the local people failed to understand a number of new policies.  They wondered, for instance, why the government would not allow them to graze their animals (cows, reindeers) freely in the forests or to collect timber for personal use without official permission.
 The traditional, rural livelihoods - tar-burning, slash-and-burn cultivation, livestock rearing in the state forests, and the illegal use of state-owned timber - even led to legal proceedings in many cases. This article will look particularly at the prohibited pilfering of timber in the Tornionjoki valley.

Anne Ruuttula-Vasari
E-mail: Telephone: +358 981 5533318
Address: Historian Laitos, PL 111, Oulun Yliopisto, FIN-90571 OULU
Another address: Niemelantie 1, FIN-85410 Sievi
This page was updated on July 11, 2000