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Nature conservation programmes

The state utilises conservation programmes to protect significant nature values. Primarily, the areas defined in the conservation programmes are formed into nature reserves by law or decree. The majority of the reserves are located on state land and maintained by the state enterprise Metsähallitus. However, many nature reserves have also been established on private land.

Nature conservation programmes are prepared by the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of the Environment issues notifications on their preparation and hears those whom the matters concern. The Finnish Government has issued a decision-in-principle on the programmes.

Markku Aikioniemi, Image Bank of the Environmental Administration

Nature conservation programmes and action plans

Finland has six national nature conservation programmes that cover the following:

  • Mires
  • Waterfowl habitats
  • Eskers
  • Herb-rich forests
  • Shore areas
  • Old-growth forests

In addition to the expansive nature conservation programmes based on the Nature Conservation Act, the Finnish Government and environmental administration have initiated a variety of action plans to secure the diversity of nature.

Mire Conservation Programme

The state of mires is poor particularly in Southern Finland. The aim of the supplementation programme for mire conservation is to improve the state of mires and their protection. The programme supplements the basic programme for mire conservation from 1979 and 1981.

Waterfowl Habitats Conservation Programme

The natural habitats of birds are dwindling and changing rapidly due to construction as well as intensified agriculture and forestry, for example. The aim of the Waterfowl Habitants Conservation Programme is to maintain 287 bird wetland locations in as natural a state as possible. The total area of the locations covered by the programme is approximately 74,750 hectares.

Finland has signed the global Ramsar Convention that protects wetlands. The convention obliges Finland to promote the protection of internationally significant wetlands and the conservation of waterfowl, along with establishing nature reserves in wetland areas.

Further information

Senior Environmental Adviser Kristiina Niikkonen, tel. +358 2952 50198, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Esker Conservation Programme

The extraction of gravel and sand, along with extensive civil engineering, have destroyed Finnish natural esker environments, damaged landscapes and endangered groundwater reserves. A national conservation programme for eskers has been drawn up to preserve the diversity of esker environments. The programme includes 159 areas, covering a total of approximately 97,000 hectares.

It is prohibited to compromise the natural state of the eskers under protection through soil extraction, for example. The conservation of the eskers is primarily based on the Land Extraction Act and Decree.

Further information

Ministerial Adviser Juhani Gustafsson, tel. +358 295 250 338, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Pienvesien lähimetsä
Seppo Tuominen, Image Bank of the Environmental Administration


Herb-Rich Forest Conservation Programme

The Herb-Rich Forest Conservation Programme protects these forest areas in various zones of largely deciduous vegetation and secures the subsistence of their flora and fauna. The programme includes 436 areas, covering a total of approximately 5300 hectares.

Herb-rich forests are also protected through the METSO programme.

Verdant patches of herb-rich forests are part of the especially important habitats protected by the Forest Act. However, woods rich in broad-leafed deciduous species as well as hazel woods are specified as habitats protected under the Nature Conservation Act.

Further information

Senior Environmental Adviser Aulikki Alanen, tel. +358 2952 50333, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Shore Conservation Programme

The Shore Conservation Programme aims to preserve valuable sea and lake nature throughout Finland. The goal of the programme is to protect unbuilt shore areas. The conservation work is largely based on the Land Use and Building Act.

The programme includes 127 locations, of which 29 represent seaside nature while 98 represent lakeside nature. Their total area is approximately 134,000 hectares. The locations have a total of 8,000 km of shoreline. The Shore Conservation Programme protects about 4% of the Finnish seashore and about 5% of the country’s lakeshore areas.

Programme for the Protection of Old-Growth Forests

As a result of aggressive forestry, old forests are rare. However, they are extremely important for natural diversity. The Programme for the Protection of Old-Growth Forests encompasses a total of 320,000 hectares.

The Finnish Government has issued three decisions-in-principle on the conservation of old-growth forests.

  • The conservation of old-growth forests in Southern Finland, i.e. state lands south of the Oulu-Kuusamo-Kajaani line
  • The conservation of state lands in Northern Finland (293,600 hectares) and private lands (8,500 hectares)
  • The protection of old-growth forests in the jointly owned forest area of Kuusamo (14,000 hectares)

In addition to this, the Nature 2000 network includes approximately 30,000 hectares of forests in Southern Finland that are not covered by any conservation programme but some of which are classified as old-growth forests. Old forests can also be protected through the forest biodiversity programme for Southern Finland, METSO.

Moreover, restoration measures are implemented to expedite the recovery of forests to their natural state, particularly in nature reserves.

Published 2013-07-30 at 11:09, updated 2016-05-18 at 14:15