Assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland
Forests on the land uplift coast. Slåttskäret, Mustasaari. Photo: Arto Hämäläinen
The first assessment of habitat types in Finland completed
Some 400 habitat types were classified according to their risk of human-induced decline and deterioration in Finland. Of the total number of habitat types, 51% are threatened in the whole country. The corresponding percentage is lower in terms of area, as many of the threatened habitat types are typically small in size. Almost one-third of habitat types are near threatened (NT) and one-fifth belong to the category least concern (LC).
The assessment considers all natural habitat types, which are divided into seven main groups: the Baltic Sea and its coast, inland waters and shores, mires, forests, rocky habitats, traditional rural biotopes, and the fell area. The assessment was carried out correspondingly in seven groups of national experts. In all over 80 experts from different organizations participated in the project. The expert groups also compiled the first list of the habitat types for whose protection Finland has a particular international responsibility.
Subregions of the assessment
© SYKE, © Maanmittauslaitos lupa nro 7/MML/08
The red listing of habitat types was carried out on the national level, and on the regional level separately for southern and northern Finland. The proportion of threatened habitat types is much higher in southern Finland (66%) as compared to northern Finland (29%). This difference explains itself by the clear difference in the intensity of land use between these regions.
The most significant reasons for habitat types being threatened are forestry, drainage for forestry (ditching), eutrophication of water bodies, clearing of agricultural land, and water engineering.
Proportion of threatened types highest among traditional rural biotopes and forests
The proportion of threatened habitat types is by far greatest among traditional rural biotopes, 93%. The group of forests is second with a proportion of 70% of types being threatened. More than half of the habitat types are threatened also in the main groups of the Baltic Sea habitats and mires. The proportion of threatened types is lowest in rocky habitats and in the fell area.
Examples of critically endangered (CR) habitat types are herb-rich forests with broad-leaved deciduous trees, barren heath forests, forests and mires on the land uplift coast and streams of clay-dominated catchment areas. In the category least concern (LC) there are environments where human-induced changes have been more subtle due to e.g. remote location or infertile substrate. These habitat types include fell habitats, acidic rocky habitats and some of the wettest and poorest mire habitats.
Improving the state of habitat types is possible
The expert groups have given proposals on measures to be taken in the future in order to improve the state of the habitat types. The 70 proposals made by the expert groups act as a starting point in a separate and broadly-based process, which is will be started later and will put the results of the assessment in action.
Improvement is needed on many levels: international co-operation is essential in questions of climate change and eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Regional planning is in key position in improving the state of inland waters, mires and forests. Small-scale habitats can also benefit from carefully planned management, protection and land use steering. Landowners and cottagers can do their part for example in taking care of the meadows or preventing overgrowth of sand beaches.
Project Manager Anne Raunio, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 400 148 690, email@example.com
Senior Researcher Tytti Kontula, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 400 148 680, firstname.lastname@example.org
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