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State of Finland's Forests 2012: Finnish forests and
forest management in a nutshell

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Safeguarding and protecting forest biodiversity

The share of strictly protected forests of all forest land (%) in
certain European countries (MCPFE class 1.1).

The protection of most valuable forests and ensuring biological diversity in commercial forests are issues which have attracted special attention since the 1990s. Owing to many protection programmes and decisions, the area of protected forests has tripled in Finland over the past 35 years. The total area of protected forests is currently 2.2 million hectares, or 9.6% of all forest land. The total area of protected forests and forests under restricted use is almost 3 million hectares, or 13.0% of all forest land. The percentage of strictly protected forests in Finland is the largest in Europe.

Most of the protected areas are in northern Finland. The biological diversity and protection of the forests of southern Finland have been methodically addressed in conjunction with the National Forest Programme 2015 in the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO) since the early 2000s.

The programme involves developing voluntary forest conservation measures for privately owned forests. More sites safeguarding biological diversity will be set up in private forests, and conservation areas in State forests will be expanded. The goal is to increase the total of areas set for voluntary conservationby landowners by 96,000 hectares by 2016. The METSO programme also incorporates restoration and management measures in already established conservation areas to enhance their biological diversity.

Biological diversity in commercial forests is promoted by means of forest legislation, recommendations and instructions for best practices in forest management, as well as conservation agreements and forest certification. The Nature Conservation Act lists nine protected habitat types, three of which are found in forests.

The Forest Act contains definitions of habitats of special importance (key biotopes) whose natural features must be conserved. According to surveys conducted by the regional districts of the Finnish Forestry Centre, at the beginning of 2010 key biotopes accounted for 95,000 hectares of forest land in private forests, 0.6% of the total.

Undisturbed forests located in strictly protected areas may contain
often parcels with high amount of dead and decaying standing
and laying wood material.

Following recommendations, old broadleaved trees are left standing in the forest in fellings, and decayed trees or other trees that have special biological value are also retained. Following forest certification requirements, a certified site must have an average of 5–10 such trees per hectare. Certification also involves many other measures designed to increase biological diversity, such as increasing prescribed burnings and maintaining waterways.

About one half of the approximately 45,000 species known in Finland live in forests. The abundance of threatened species is monitored regularly, using the international IUCN criteria. According to the most recent survey (2010), there are 2,247 threatened plant and animal species in Finland, of which 36% are forest species. This percentage has changed very little since the previous survey, conducted ten years earlier. The most recent survey reveals that thanks to measures to promote biological diversity in forests, the decline of certain forest species has slowed down, although it has not been possible to halt the decline in the forest species overall. The situation has improved particularly for species that require retention trees and for fireassociated species.

Finland’s first assessment of natural habitat types was conducted in 2008. The purpose of this assessment was to find out how habitat types had changed due to human action or other reasons over the past 50 years. Two thirds of the 76 forest habitat types were considered to be threatened on the basis of qualitative or quantitative changes. These endangered habitat types are typically small in size. The Nature Conservation Act and the Forest Act specifically list the habitat types and habitats identified as having special importance that must be left untouched in forest management.

Cucujus clavipes (Cucujus cinnaberinus) is a famous and spectacular invertebrates, which is in Finland a critically endangered species, and protected by law and included in the Natura 2000 list. This species is depending on the old aspen trees. Photo: Erkki Oksanen/Metla, Juha Siitonen collection.


The EU Natura 2000 network in Finland comprises 1,860 protected sites whose total area is about 5 million hectares, of which 3.6 million hectares, or three fourths, are land areas. The majority of the Natura 2000 areas, 97%, are nature conservation areas established under national decisions, or they are part of national conservation programmes or areas protected in some other way.



  Updated: 12.04.2012 /MLier |  Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Metla, unless otherwise stated | Copyright Metla | Feedback