Land use - Drivers and pressures (Finland)

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Land use - Drivers and Pressures
Land Land
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015


The growth of the highway network has been relatively slow. In 1940 the length was 68 000 km and around 1950 even slightly below 60 000 km. Since then about 20 000 km new highways has been built. The forest road network serves mainly forestry activities such as transport of timber. The network has expanded rapidly. During 1975–1995 about 4 000 km of forest roads were constructed annually. In the last few years, growth has been around 800 km/year. The basic improvement of forest roads has been on the increase and in 2008 nearly 3 500 km of road were improved[1]. The forest road network causes fragmentation of forested areas.


The population in the urban municipalities has been increasing steadily and was 3 644 491 persons in 2009. Similarly, the population in densely populated municipalities has increased to 851 259 persons, slightly less than the population in rural municipalities which was 855 677[2]. About 16 % of the Finnish population lives in rural municipalities. In addition, the largest urban areas usually have the fastest population growth.


Immigration from rural to urban areas is expected to continue. The depopulation of rural areas has environmentally negative consequences, for example when it increases transport demand.


The changes in urban structures in the 33 largest urban regions in Finland have been examined. The final report presents the findings[3]. About a third of the densely populated area in Finland was built after 1980, and the population in that area increased by almost 10 percentage units. The area grew faster than the number of population which is typical to urban sprawl. This trend was slower in the 1990s. One of the observations was that the increase in population was channelled to the fringe areas especially in the late 1980s. Since then the trend has been discernible in fewer urban regions of which one is the capital city Helsinki.

[1] Finnish Statistical Yearbook of Forestry p 117, Finnish Forest Research Institute

[2] Urbanisation, Prime Minister's Office & Statistics Finland (in Finnish)

[3] Ristimäki, M. et al.: Kaupunkiseutujen väestömuutos ja alueellinen kasvu. [Population changes in urban regions and urban growth]. Suomen ympäristö 657. Ympäristöministeriö 2003. (in Finnish)


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