Dead trees make up an important part of the forest ecosystem. They don’t just die and disappear, in fact they can sometimes stay standing ‘dead’ for hundreds of years! And in this time, they provide habitat for a rich community of different bacteria, fungi, insects and invertebrates, which in turn allows birds such as woodpeckers, and capercaillies who bring their young to feed on the insects found burrowing and living on the wood. Standing dead trees should make up 10-20% of any healthy forest ecosystem.
Humans too, have found some uses for these dead standing trees, which in Finland are often called kelo, or if you are a forest ecologist, they are called snags. The wood is prized for its hardness and for its silver-grey weathered surface, qualities which lend it very well to furniture making and even whole log cabins.
The best snag if you want to make a fire to cook on or keep warm is from the pine tree because it contains high levels of flammable resin that become concentrated in the wood as the tree dries out. These tar stumps smell wonderful and one always feel lucky to find one in the forest.