University of Oulu

Puutavarayhtiöiden maanhankinta ja -omistus Pohjois-Suomessa vuosina 1885 - 1939

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Author: Karjalainen, Tapio1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.9 MB)
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Language: Finnish
Published: 2000
Publish Date: 2000-04-26
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Esitetään Oulun yliopiston humanistisen tiedekunnan suostumuksella julkisesti tarkastettavaksi Linnanmaan Kuusamonsalissa (YB 210), 3. kesäkuuta 2000 klo 12.
Reviewer: Professor Jorma Ahvenainen
Docent Karl-Erik Michelsen


The aim of this work was to determine the extent of land ownership by companies in Northern Finland over the period 1885-1939, what companies acquired land, what prices they paid for it and the reasons for them doing this. Attention is also paid to the general and regional causes of these sales of land. The perspective adopted is largely that of the industrial sector, so that the economic and social repercussions are deemed to lie beyond the scope of this work, and even the immediate consequences of the purchases of land are touched on only in passing.

The timber companies were most active in acquiring land in 1900-1920, over which period their holdings increased more than 6-fold (from 79 690 ha to 513 450 ha). In 1915 the companies owned 3.6% of the total surface area of Northern Finland, 8.8% of the private land and 5.7% of the total number of farm or forest properties. The land holdings of the timber companies decreased from 1920 onwards and became established at around 450 000 ha in the 1930s. This took place through the companies releasing land for settlement purposes, either voluntarily or under the Land Restoration Law of 1925, seeking in this way to rid themselves of land that was of no use to them. The chief focus of purchases of land by the timber companies in Northern Finland was in Kainuu, where they owned a total of 292 820 ha at the peak in this trend, in 1920. Over the period 1915-1939 about 60% of the land owned by such companies in Northern Finland was situated in Kainuu, and even by 1915 they had acquired about 27% of all the privately-owned land in the region.

The main reason for the timber companies' interest in purchasing land was the expansion in sawn timber production, which meant that the volume of timber required for this purpose increased from 2.6 million stems in 1870 to 34 million by 1910. At the same time the pulp and paper industries were also stepping up production. There was a fear that Finland's forest reserves would be exhausted by this level of utilization. At the time of this great expansion in the forest industries the peasant farming population of Finland were still living at a more or less subsistence level. Productivity in agriculture was low, poverty and years of crop failure tried the limits of human endurance, and there were few opportunities for the farmers of Northern Finland to gain anything in the way of an income. One possible means of raising some cash was by selling timber from one's forest or undertaking lumbering work, and another was to sell one's whole farm to a timber company. Gradually a situation arose in which the peasant farmers became anxious to sell forest land and the industry was eager to buy it. The most prominent landowners were the trading houses of Oulu. Their land ownership was transferred in 1912 to Ab Uleå Oy, whose landed property was over 200 000 ha at its peak. Another prominent landowner was Puutavara Osakeyhtiö Kemi with its 75 000 ha of land. From 1925 onwards the companies' land ownership was concentrated in the hands of three major owners owing to selling and buying of land between the companies. Kajaanin Puutavara Osakeyhtiö owned 223 000 ha, Puutavara Osakeyhtiö Kemi 84 000 ha and Kymmene Ab 36 600 ha.

The companies cannot be accused of having been dishonest in their buying of land. A market price was formed to woodland, and this price determined the value of the forests. The state also exercised some influence on the market price by selling its own forests.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. B, Humaniora
ISSN-E: 1796-2218
ISBN: 951-42-5624-7
ISBN Print: 951-42-5623-9
Issue: 36
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2000. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.