Nature protection and biodiversity - State and impacts (Finland)
- Nature and biodiversity
A comprehensive assessment of the state and trends of biodiversity in Finland can be found in the Fourth National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Finland, which was delivered to CBD in June 2009. The report is based on approximately 110 national biodiversity indicators that have been structured according to the DPSIR framework and cover most of the topics included in the indicator set developed by the Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators 2010 project. The indicators are presented on the web site www.biodiversity.fi.
According to the indicator-based assessment, the overview of the state of biodiversity is contrasting. Several species, previously declining and at risk of extinction, are now recovering. These species have often been target to special conservation efforts. Lynx and brown bear as well as several birds of prey are examples of such species.
The quality of mire and farmland habitats for biodiversity has continued to deteriorate especially in southern and central Finland. Common mire and farmland birds have declined steeply and similar trends may also be seen for butterflies. More than half of all mire habitat types and over 90% of traditional rural biotopes have been evaluated as threatened. Positive progress has been made in relation to soil nutrient balances, which have declined in the case of both nitrogen and phosphorus.
Indicators on the state of forest biodiversity show both positive and negative trends. Generalist forest birds and common coniferous forest species have increased by 10–20% over the past 30 years. Wildlife richness index has also increased slightly, which is driven mainly by increasing large carnivore and small ungulate numbers. Mountain hares, in contrast, have declined.
Structural forest indicators tell of a greatly altered ecosystem. The present volume of dead wood is very low compared to natural circumstances, the forest age structure has shifted towards younger cohorts and the proportional volume of coniferous trees – especially that of Scots pine – has increased on the expense of other species. However, most of these trends have now stabilized, and there are first signs of increasing dead wood volumes, for example.
Positive trends include reductions in the eutrophication and pollution of inland waters. This is reflected in the improved ecological status of lakes. Just over 70% of the total lake area is considered to be in a good ecological state, and if the analysis is restricted to larger lakes, the percentage rises up to 86. However, the status of river systems is not as favourable. Nearly half of all rivers have been strongly altered e.g. by hydropower construction, river bed modification and pollution.
The physical quality of the Baltic Sea is concerning with algal blooms being more common and chlorophyll-a concentrations increasing especially in the southern sea areas. The visibility depth of seawater decreased steeply over the whole 20th century also in the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea. Benefitting from increased primary production and decreased hunting pressure, archipelago birds and Baltic grey seals have increased during the past decades. However, the populations of some of the most numerous bird species such as the common eider have started to decline recently.
The third evaluation of threatened species in Finland was completed in 2000 (see Summary of the Evaluation of Threatened Species in Finland 2000). Approximately one third of the estimated total of 45 000 species found in Finland were assessed, and some ten percent of the assessed species were found to be threatened. Nearly 40% of the threatened species live primarily in forest habitats and almost 30% can be found in traditional farmland habitats. Forestry and changes in farming practices are the main factors that threaten species or lead to extinctions. The fourth evaluation of threatened species in Finland will be published in late 2010.
The first Red List of habitat types was published in 2008. This internationally leading effort provided an extensive overview on the state and trends of altogether 400 different habitat types in Finland. Of the total number of habitat types, 51% are threatened in the whole country. The corresponding percentage is lower in terms of area as many of the threatened habitat types are restricted to out of the ordinary environmental circumstances. Almost one-third of habitat types are near threatened (NT) and one-fifth belong to the category least concern (LC).
The number of alien species continues to rise, and more species are able to escape to natural environments and become invasive. Particularly at risk are water habitats, shores and man-made habitats. The first signs of climate change may also be seen in Finnish nature. Several northern species and habitats, including palsa mires, are declining, for example. Climate change is also affecting more native bird species negatively than positively.
Finland’s nationwide protected area system forms a backbone for biodiversity conservation especially in relation to natural ecosystems and related ecosystem services. Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services (NHS), a government agency, is almost entirely responsible of the management of the whole system of protected areas. This arrangement facilitates good and effective management of protected areas. The state and impacts of NHS work and the PA system is documented and described in detail in the Annex III / B “Progress towards Targets of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA)” of Fourth National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Finland.
- Natural resource indicators. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
- Sustainable development indicators. Finnish Environment Institute
- Results of the Evaluation of Threatened Species in Finland 2000 by species groups. Finnish Environmental Administration
- Threatened plants and fungi in Finland in 2000. Finnish Environmental Administration
- Threatened animals in Finland in 2000. Finnish Environmental Administration
- Threatened species in Finland. Finnish Environmental Administration
- Natural habitat types and species. Metsähallitus
- Pertti Rassi, Aulikki Alanen, Tiina Kanerva, Ilpo Mannerkoski (toim.) Suomen lajien uhanalaisuus 2000. Uhanalaisten lajien II seurantaryhmä.. (Available only in print, includes an English summary.)
- Protecting and monitoring natural habitats. Ministry of the Environment
- First assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland completed. Finnish Environmental Administration
- Assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland. Finnish Environmental Administration
- State of the Parks in Finland report (SOP). Metsähallitus
- Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE). Metsähallitus
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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