Land use - State and impacts (Finland)

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Land use - State and Impacts
Land Land
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015


Corine Land Cover

The Coordination of Information on the Environment (CORINE) programme was initiated by the European Commission in 1985. One of the priority topics was land cover. The Corine Land Cover aims to collect information on the biophysical characteristics of land cover.


The first Corine Land Cover (CLC) was finalised in the late 1990s. Finland did not participate in this project because Finland was not a member of EU at that time. Finland has produced the two subsequent Corine Land Cover databases, CLC2000 and CLC2006. The CLC nomenclature is a three-layer classification with 44 classes on the most detailed level.


The same method was applied in both projects to produce the CLC data. The method is based on automated interpretation of satellite images and data integration with the existing digital map data. Additionally, in the CLC2006 project some classes were interpreted manually.


Figure 1 shows clearly that the largest part of Finland is covered by forests (green areas). Urban areas are red.


Figure 1. Corine Land Cover map 2006 over Finland

LAND Figure1


One of the main aims of the CLC projects is to enable comparison of the results and the detection of changes in land cover. The changes were identified using the five-hectare resolution.


The total area of changes between 2000 and 2006 is about 7 000 km2 corresponding to about 2.1 % of Finland's area (excluding sea areas).


Most of the changes in Finland are due to forest management, i.e. forest cuttings and re-growth make 91 % of the area of all changes. Approximately 3 500 km2 of forest has changed into transitional woodland/shrubs and conversely nearly 3 000 km2 new forest has emerged.


Only 1 % of the detected changes are due to the increase in built-up land while establishment of new agricultural areas makes almost 7 % of the changes. The major part of the new agricultural areas is converted from old peat production areas.


The detection of changes between 2000 and 2006 has been done tentatively using the national material underpinning the European scale CLC results. The national material has a higher resolution, enabling the comparisons on the one-hectare scale instead of the five-hectare scale. In general, the use of the higher resolution leads to an increase in the area where changes are observed, and in some cases the difference between the areas that the different resolutions are able to produce is significant.



Forests cover a major part of Finland. Depending on the definition, forest land covers 66–73 % and the total forestry area about 78 % of Finland's land area. The Finnish Forest Research Institute carries out regularly forest inventories. The first inventory covered years 1921–1924, and the results of the 10th National Forest Inventory (NFI) are now available. Forests provide a number of vital ecosystem services including their functioning as carbon sinks. According to the latest NFI the net sequestration capacity of Finnish forests has nearly doubled during the last 20 years and in 2008 it was 42 million tonnes CO2. According to a recent report[1] by FAO, in Finland the carbon stock in living forest biomass is 832 million tonnes in 2010. This is one of the highest carbon stocks amongst European countries. Carbon stock per hectare in Finland is, however, one of the smallest. Thus similar changes in the forest area lead to smaller changes in the carbon stock compared to many other European countries.



The number of farms has nearly halved since 1990 and was 66 938 in 2007, according to the agricultural statistics[2]. At the same time, the total area of arable land has increased slightly and is now about 7–9 %, depending on the definition of the land area. Accordingly, the average size of arable land of farms has increased. This increase varies by production sector. Since 1995, in the farms with milk husbandry or pig husbandry the average size has nearly doubled and with poultry husbandry slightly more than doubled. Crop husbandry or horse husbandry farms have grown less.


The crop husbandry is located mainly in south-west Finland and in the western part of central Finland, and the major part of animal husbandry lies to the east and north. The geographical distribution of the different production sectors has earlier been more even.



The length of the highway network was 78 161 km in 2010[3]. In addition there is a little over 5 100 km of light traffic routes in connection with the road network. The length of the street network is approximately 26 000 km, private roads 350 000 km, forest roads 135 000 km, and railroads 5 900 km. It can be estimated that the land take of the whole traffic network is around 1-2 % of the land area of Finland. This share is not high when compared to other countries, even though Finland is large and sparsely populated.



Summerhouses or summer cottages are a specific feature of importance to the Finns. There are now more than 400 000 summerhouses and about 800 000 persons belong to a household who owns a summerhouse. Nowadays about 4 000 new cottages are built and about 3 000 are renovated annually. For many, a summerhouse on the shore of a lake or sea is the most desirable. From a land-use point of view, construction along the shoreline is problematic. Therefore, specific care is taken in planning and permits. Shorelines where no developments have yet been planned are generally protected from future construction developments, as stipulated in the Land Use and Building Act.

[2] Yearbook of Farm Statistics Ch. 2, Matilda Agricultural Statistics by the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland

[3] Finnish Road Statistics 2009 p 34-39, Finnish Transport Agency (until 1.1.2010 Finnish Road Administration)


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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