Press release 3.11.2006

Ministers Enestam and Korkeaoja seek continuation of the METSO Programme

The Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO has been successful, as shown by the evaluation published today. The new voluntary conservation measures are well suited to forest protection. Minister of the Environment Jan-Erik Enestam and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Juha Korkeaoja consider it important to draw up an action and financing programme during 2007, aimed at further, significant improvement in forest biodiversity.

According to the evaluation of the METSO Programme published today, there is an obvious need for an action and financing programme to ensure forest biodiversity. Fixed-term or permanent measures that are voluntary for the forest owners should be available to different forest owner groups in all parts of Finland . In the future the voluntary protection measures must be developed so that they reach an even wider variety of forest habitats and contribute to the creation of more extensive conservation networks.

One of the greatest achievements of the METSO Programme is that it created a new operating culture for forest protection, based on voluntary action. Thanks to METSO we are now finding common practices through which the favourable protection status of forests can be reached, provided that sufficient funding for this is ensured. The Forest Sector Future Review the Forest Council responsible for METSO states that a total of 65 million euros per year would be needed over the next ten years. Of this 50 million euros would be allocated to the administrative sector of the Ministry of the Environment and 15 million to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The range of protection measures must be applied in a flexible way, according to the specific local conditions, while promoting local co-operation and new patterns for protection. The evaluation shows that the voluntary means have won wide approval.

The new action and financing programme for forest biodiversity covers the whole country, but the focus is still in southern Finland. The preparation of the programme will be started right away, and it should be submitted to the Government for approval, together with the revisions to the National Forest Programme, in autumn 2007.

The METSO Programme is implemented in 2003- 2007. In the projects new means have been tested for protecting forest biodiversity in southern Finland. Pilot projects based on voluntary action have been carried out in different parts of southern Finland , new, more ecological management instructions for commercial forests have been introduced, and conservation areas have been restored and increased. The Programme also includes extensive research programmes on forest biodiversity.



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