Tasks of Finland's environmental administration
Finland’s environmental administration promotes sustainable development. The overall goals are to create attractive and safe living environments, to safeguard biodiversity, to prevent environmental damage and to improve housing conditions in Finland.
The administrative sphere of the Ministry of the Environment encompasses the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). In addition, the Ministry supervises the work related to environmental issues of the regional state administrative agencies and the centres for economic development, transport and the environment. The Ministry also supervises the nature conservation work of the Natural Heritage Services unit of Metsähallitus (a state-owned enterprise).
The Ministry of the Environment formulates the Finnish Government’s environmental and housing policies. These policies cover issues such as environmental protection, land use, nature conservation, construction and housing. The Ministry is also responsible for strategic planning and management in its administrative area, the drafting of new legislation, and international co-operation on environmental issues.
The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) promotes ecologically sustainable, high-quality and affordable housing. It is responsible for providing support for low- to medium-income households and improving the housing conditions of groups with special housing needs, and also for overseeing and managing not-for-profit housing associations in a way that ensures good financial management and the allocation of government aid to residents. Furthermore, ARA manages and oversees the utilisation of ARA housing stock and guarantees housing loans together with the State Treasury. ARA also promotes research on and the improvement of housing conditions, distributes information on the housing market, and maintains information services in its field of work.
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is Finland’s national centre for environmental research and development. It is also responsible for certain administrative tasks. SYKE produces useful data on the state of the environment in Finland, including significant environmental trends and the factors behind them, and assesses alternative future trends and develops solutions to promote sustainable development. SYKE compiles, processes and publicises a wide range of environmental data, while meeting Finland’s reporting obligations under European Union environmental legislation and other international agreements. SYKE is also responsible for various aspects of water resource management and use in Finland.
Regional State Administrative Agency
Environmental permits are one of the areas of responsibility of regional state administrative agencies. The agencies handle and resolve environmental permit issues in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act, and issues of administrative constraint in accordance with the Water Act. The agencies also deal with most major compensation claims related to water pollution. The Ministry of the Environment guides the work related to environmental issues of the regional state administrative agencies.
Four regional state administrative agencies are responsible for environmental permit-related tasks: the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, Regional State Administrative Agency for Eastern Finland, Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland, and Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland.
The Ministry of Finance supervises the general administrative work of the regional state administrative agencies.
Centres for economic development, transport and the environment
The environment and natural resources are one of the areas of responsibility of the centres for economic development, transport and the environment. Under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment, the centres are responsible for environmental protection, land use, guidance on construction, management of the cultural environment, protection of biodiversity and its sustainable use, and monitoring of the state of the environment in their respective regions. The centres are also responsible for the enforcement of permits in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act, and the enforcement of administrative measures of constraint in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act. Furthermore, under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the centres handle tasks related to water resource use and management.
The environment and natural resources are included in the areas of responsibility of 13 centres for economic development, transport and the environment: Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Häme, Pirkanmaa, Southeast Finland, South Savo, North Savo, North Karelia, Central Finland, South Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and Lapland.
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy supervises the general administrative work of the centres for economic development, transport and the environment.
Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services (NHS)
The Natural Heritage Services unit of Metsähallitus manages Finland's national parks and nature reserves, wilderness areas, recreational areas and other protected areas. It is responsible for the management, use and public services of the areas and the nationwide protection and monitoring of many endangered species, natural habitats and cultural heritage.