Current issue: 55(3)
Under compilation: 55(4)
Snow damage to forests in Southern Finland in November 1991 was examined in relation to meteorological conditions. The combined effect of different factors proved to be necessary for severe damage. First, the snow load, in terms of precipitation, should exceed a certain limit. The limit can be set for weak or moderate damage at about 40 mm and for very severe damage at about 60 mm. Second, temperature at the time of precipitation should be above 0°C, which enables the slightly wet snow to attach to twigs during the subsequent period with temperature below 0°C. On the other hand, temperatures exceeding 0.6°C prohibit damage by permitting the snow load to fall from the branches. Wind speed exceeding 9 ms-1, as observed 15 m above ground, were strong enough to dislodge the snow which is not attached, and thus reduce the damage. There are few statistics either of snow damage or of the relation between the snow damage and precipitation. However, there is causal connection between snow damage and heavy snowfalls. Therefore, the regions with a high frequency of heavy snowfalls, as indicated by orographical features and occurrence of thick snow cover, were investigated.
Abundant snowfalls and thick snow cover influence forest ecology mainly in two ways. Snow loading increases the number of damaged stems, which increases the amount of decay in stems, in its turn important for many animals. Second, the ground remains unfrozen under the snow cover, which is of crucial importance for many perennial species of ground vegetation. These winter phenomena also have influenced the early Finnish culture as man in his everyday life in the wilderness was in close contact with nature. In this paper, ecological interactions between snow conditions, forest flora, fauna and early culture are discussed mainly with reference to the province of Uusimaa in Southern Finland.