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 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
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
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.