New evaluation – one in ten Finnish species still threatened
Photo: Kimmo Syrjänen
There are 2,247 threatened species in Finland, which is 10.5 per cent of the 21,400 species evaluated. The number of species evaluated is exceptionally large, even by international standards. In 2010, over 6,000 more species were evaluated than in the previous evaluation in 2000. During the last ten years, the status of 186 species (10.0 per cent of the 1,505 species evaluated in 2000) has improved, while that of 356 has deteriorated. This indicates that, whilst species continue to decline, conservation efforts are also producing results for many species.
The majority of evaluated species are not threatened. However, trends in the most closely monitored groups of organisms indicate that Finland has fallen short of global objectives in its attempts to halt the decline in the country’s species. The Red List of Finnish Species has now been compiled for the fourth time. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) new set of comparable criteria were employed for the second time.
The most threatened species live in forests and traditional rural biotopes
The majority of threatened species live in forests (36.2%) and traditional rural biotopes or other cultural habitats (23.3%). Changes in forest habitats are the primary threat to a total of 693 species. The major threats are a reduction in decaying wood (27%) and forest regeneration and management measures, such as clearcutting and mechanical soil preparation (26%). The overgrowing of meadows, shorelines, esker slopes and other open habitats is the primary cause in the decline for 578 species.
The rate of decline in species inhabiting forests and traditional rural biotopes has slowed slightly. 81 forest species have experienced an improvement. Half of these are beetles, which have benefited from, for example, retention trees – especially aspens – left standing in clear-cut areas. 108 forest species have experienced a clear deterioration. The majority of these are lichens, butterflies, moths, beetles and hymenopters. The trends for most groups of organisms have been decidedly more negative than positive.
The status of 70 species living in traditional rural biotopes has improved. The majority of these are beetles, butterflies, moths and typical bugs (Heteroptera) with a southern distribution. Warmer summers have enabled many of them to expand their distribution to such an extent that the limiting values for threatened or Near Threatened status are no longer fulfilled. The status of 83 species has deteriorated, and the majority of these are beetles, butterflies and moths. The status of 16 species of vascular plant has also deteriorated and not a single species has improved. The declining species live in traditional rural biotopes such as meadows and pastures, which have dramatically reduced in number during the past ten years.
Species declining in mires and on rock outcrops, shores and alpine heaths and meadows
The rate of decline in species living in mires and alpine heaths and meadows and on rock outcrops and shores has accelerated. The status of 14 shoreline species has improved, while that of as many as 60 has deteriorated. Overgrowing is affecting species living in habitats such as low coastal meadows, lakeshores and riverbanks. In alpine heaths and meadows, unfavourable trends have been detected in 28 species with a positive development for only one species. For several species, the lower boundary of their area of distribution has now risen higher up the fell, and global warming is placing an increasing number of fell species under threat.
The world’s most comprehensive regional Red List evaluation
Finland’s Red List evaluation is the most comprehensive in the world. During 2007–2010, the Steering Group for Evaluation of Threatened Species (LAUHA), which was appointed by the Ministry of the Environment, led 15 expert groups in an assessment of the conservation status of Finland’s species. 160 of Finland’s top experts contributed to the evaluation. These experts were either employees or retirees of the nature conservation administration, natural history museums and research institutes, or advanced enthusiasts. The Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute compiled the red list of fish and the Finnish Mammalogical Society provided the red list of mammals.
An increased level of knowledge
Thanks to both the Research programme of deficiently known and threatened forest species (PUTTE), which is part of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO), and proactive work by organism work groups, the scope of the 2010 evaluation expanded by as much as 40 per cent. The 2010 evaluation covered over 5,000 more species of Diptera, Hymenoptera, Homoptera and arachnids than in 2000. The evaluation of fungi and lichens has also considerably expanded by over 700 species. However, the evaluation of aquatic organisms remains highly deficient, as data is limited and sporadic; and for some groups, such as algae and crustaceans, the scope of the evaluation even narrowed.
- Environment Counsellor Pertti Rassi, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 (0)400 143 930
- Conservation Biologist Esko Hyvärinen, Metsähallitus, Natural Heritage Services, tel. +358 (0)400 208 591, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senior Researcher Ilpo Mannerkoski, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), tel. +358 (0)400 148 684, email@example.com
- Unit Director Zoology Aino Juslén, Finnish Museum of Natural History,
tel. +358 (0)50 310 9703, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Information Officer Riku Lumiaro, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), tel. +358 (0)40 509 8654, email@example.com