Nature protection and biodiversity - National Responses (Finland)

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Nature protection and biodiversity - National Responses
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015


Finland became the first EU member state to renew its national biodiversity strategy in 2006 when the present National Strategy and Action Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Finland 2006–2016 (NBSAP, also entitled as "Saving nature for people") was approved by The Council of State. Prior to its adoption, the results of the first NBSAP period 1997–2005 were evaluated in an interdisciplinary research project. The NBSAP process along with the fact that the present NBSAP includes the goal of halting biodiversity by 2010 has moved biodiversity higher up Finland's political agenda.


A cornerstone of Finland's NBSAP is sectoral integration. This means that conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is promoted as an integral part of planning and activities in all socio-economic sectors. Extensive co-operation is ensured between the ministries and other organisations working for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Finland. This also means that the objectives and actions largely are carried out within each sector, involving ministries, government agencies, local communities, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. An implementation and monitoring body chaired by the Ministry of the Environment has been set up and is to supervise and monitor the implementation of the NBSAP 2006–2016.


The Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO for the years 2008-2016 aims to halt the ongoing decline of forest biodiversity in Southern Finland. The programme is based on wide cooperation between the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Forest Development Centre Tapio.


On privately owned land all the conservation measures applied in the programme are based on voluntary participation by landowners. Landowners can propose their forests to be included in the METSO programme. If the sites fulfil the criteria set for inclusion into the programme and are selected, the landowners will receive compensation for the permanent or temporary protection of their land. Besides aiming to strengthen the network of protected areas in southern Finland, the programme includes measures to develop forestry methods used in commercially managed forests towards greater appreciation of biodiversity values.


The METSO Programme will also speed up the expansion of existing protected areas through protection of adjacent state-owned lands. The State owned Metsähallitus will also draft land use plans to prioritize the conservation of biodiversity in ecologically important areas. The first METSO programme was carried out in 2003 – 2007[1].


Good progress has been made in implementing the Natura 2000 network. Some 12% of Finland’s total surface area is now under protection, and if all Natura 2000 network sites are included, the total area under protection increases to 15%. The protected areas network is more representative in the north and east than elsewhere. There is still particularly a need to improve the ecological network in Southern Finland. Natura 2000 sites have notably enhanced the protection of marine habitats, which are still inadequately protected overall, however. In July 2006, the Kvarken Archipelago was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Finland’s Nature Conservation Act (1096/1996, latest amendment 591/2005) together with Nature Conservation Decree (160/1997, latest amendment  913/2005) were drawn up to meet the latest conservation needs and Finland’s obligations derived from EU legislation, especially from the EU Bird and Habitats Directives and the Convention on Biological Diversity.


The Act protects a number of natural habitats: herb-rich forests, hazel woods, black alder swamps, sandy shores, coastal meadows, dunes, juniper meadows, wooded meadows, and large trees in open landscapes. In addition to the Nature Conservation Act, seven key forest habitat types are protected by the Forest Act and four aquatic habitat types are protected under the Water Act.


Land use practices are still having a great impact on biodiversity, but their impact is slowly becoming lighter in many instances. New recommendations for forests management practices have been drafted for both private and state-owned forests. Natural resource plans and landscape ecological plans have been produced for all state-owned lands. The planning process has helped to identify and safeguard many valuable biotopes, and introduced new practices such as the maintenance of connectivity in commercially managed forests. New ambitious goals have been set for the amount of dead wood in both commercially managed and protected state-owned forests.


Although the total impact of agri-environment scheme is not yet sufficient in terms of safeguarding biodiversity, some agri-environment policy measures are having beneficial impacts. The management of traditional rural habitats is one of the most important measures. Management work is also carried out on state-owned land by Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services as well as many private individuals and societies on private land.


The Nature Conservation Decree obliges the Ministry of the Environment to organise the monitoring of native species and natural habitats. Some 60 national species monitoring schemes operating at various levels and scales are currently under way in Finland, with about a third of these schemes focusing on birds, and another third concerning mammals or insects.


Seven governmental research institutes together with regional authorities and NGOs are involved in species monitoring work in Finland. Monitoring schemes may be carried out by a single organisation, or jointly. Volunteer workers play a vital role in many schemes. According to some estimates, more than 70 % of the monitoring work is done by volunteers.


Data on the underwater biotopes and species are collected in The Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU). The results will increase the knowledge of the underwater environment and its state thus facilitating and enabling the planning of nature protection measures and the exploitation of natural resources. VELMU is a cooperative programme that is coordinated by seven ministries and runs 2004 – 2014. Inventories cover the whole marine area surrounding Finland.


Further information:

·         National Forest Programme for 2015. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

·         Metso 2003-2007. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment

·         Nature conservation legislation. Ministry of the Environment

·         Nature Conservation Act (1096/1996). FINLEX Data Bank of Finnish Legislation. Unofficial translation of the original Act.

·         Booklet Everyman's rights (in English, German, French, and Russian) Finnish Environmental Administration

·         Nature conservation, Ministry of the Environment

·         Hunting Act. FINLEX Data Bank of Finnish Legislation. Unofficial translation of the original Act.

·         Hunting Decree. FINLEX Data Bank of Finnish Legislation. Unofficial translation of the original Act.

·         Nature Conservation Decree. FINLEX Data Bank of Finnish Legislation. Unofficial translation of the original Act.

·         Protecting species. Ministry of the Environment

·         Protected areas. Ministry of the Environment

·         A Network of Protected Areas Conserves Finland’s Nature. Metsähallitus

·         Species monitoring. Finnish Environment Institute


[1] See e.g. Metso 2003-2007 where are links to the reports (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment)


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