Nature protection and biodiversity - Drivers and pressures (Finland)
- Nature and biodiversity
Most key biodiversity related drivers in Finland relate to natural resource use. Population density is generally so low that direct impacts of population, infrastructure and urban sprawl remain mostly local. However, these may pose a threat to some habitat types that are more restricted in area. Shores and esker habitats, for example, have been preferred building sites for towns and cities, roads and railways as well as summer houses and have therefore been greatly altered.
Most important drivers and pressures pertain to forestry and agriculture. The total volume of forest resource use has been high and mostly growing. Total roundwood removals peaked in 2007. The use of intensive forestry measures, such as clear cuttings, soil preparation and artificial regeneration have all remained on a high level. However, some measures such as soil preparation practices have become less detrimental for biodiversity in recent years.
The number of active farms was nearly 130 000 in 1990 and only 64 000 in 2009. Simultaneously with this steep decline, the average size of farms has nearly doubled. The increase in the average farm size has generally lead to more intensive farming practices and to a decrease in the area of field margins and other extensively used agricultural areas. Both of these factors have had a negative effect on biodiversity. Another important threat to farmland biodiversity has been the cessation of traditional farming practices such as mowing of meadows or grazing in natural pastures. On the positive side, pressures related to fertilizer and pesticide use show decreasing trends.
Although first-time draining of mires was given up in early 2000s the impact of previous draining operations along with peat extraction and ditch clearing continue to compromise the functioning of mire ecosystems. Thus, although pressures on mire biodiversity do not continue on the same level as previously, there is no marked development in the opposite direction either. As a result, many mire species continue to decline.
The nutrient load carried by Finnish rivers into the Baltic Sea has decreased slightly since 1990 in the case of phosphorus, but for nitrogen the trend is less clear. Considering the state of especially the southern coastal waters the reductions in loading should be more pronounced. The pressures put on the marine environment by the release of harmful substances have clearly decreased in the case of organochlorines, but knowledge regarding hormonally active substances and several other "new" compounds is lacking. The volume of maritime traffic, especially that of oil shipping on the Gulf of Finland, continues to rise and increases the risk of oil spills.
One new issue requiring attention is the potential impacts of bio-energy crop cultivation and forest biofuel harvesting on biodiversity. Plans to sharply increase volume of tree stump and root collection from clear-cut areas or enhance reed canary grass cultivation need to be carefully evaluated from the point of view of biodiversity.