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Important transaction concerning mires valuable for biodiversity - 700 hectares to mire protection in Helmi Habitats Programme

Press release 2020-02-17 at 9:50
Matolamminneva
 

Press release of the Ministry of the Environment, Vapo Oy and Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland

The Ministry of the Environment, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland and Vapo Oy have concluded a significant property transaction: the State of Finland has bought from Vapo Oy about 700 hectares of mire areas of high nature value in Central Finland, North Savo and Pirkanmaa. The areas will be protected under the Helmi Programme of the Ministry of the Environment concerning the restoration, management and protection of habitats that are important for biodiversity.

Of the mire areas included in the transaction, about 180 hectares are located in Pihtipudas, about 160 hectares in Kiuruvesi, about 130 hectares in Virrat, and some sites in Karstula and Kyyjärvi.

“This transaction is highly important for the biodiversity of Finnish nature. I am very happy that such a large proportion of our valuable mires will now be protected. Protected mires are needed for the benefit of the species living in them. Mire protection is also an important climate action: when in their natural state, mires function as carbon sinks and reservoirs,” Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen says.

The aim of the Helmi Programme is to protect 20,000 hectares of mires by the end of 2023. The measures have got off to a good start. Besides this transaction, in November 2019 an area of 244 hectares of the Haukisuo mire in Juuka was designated for protection.

Collaboration between Vapo Oy and the Ministry of the Environment in protecting valuable mire areas dates back to 2012. When the present transaction is included, Vapo Oy has sold to the State almost 48,000 hectares of land in different parts of Finland for protection purposes.

“Over the past seven years we have been active in selling mire sites that have significant value in terms of nature protection. In connection with the land sales project currently under way, we have also carried out a detailed inventory of the lands we own. In our future land use, the focus will shift even more to matters such as building of wetlands and enhancing biodiversity. Whenever suitable sites are found, we are always ready to discuss their protection with the State,” says Vesa Tempakka, CEO of Vapo Oy.

Nesting mire for threatened willow grouse and habitat for many other threatened species

The Kotineva mire in Kyyjärvi is a large wilderness mire, about half of which is undrained and almost in its natural state with regard to its water economy. The mire houses numerous bird species and e.g. the threatened willow grouse nests there. In the west, the site of about 77 hectares now acquired for protection borders on an area that has already been protected and is connected to the extensive Saarisuo-Vallisuo mire protection area.

A major part, 118 hectares, of the Mörninsuo mire in Pihtipudas on the north-eastern border of Central Finland will now be protected. This mire houses numerous species of plants and moss that are either near threatened or regionally threatened, including the quite impressive marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. incarnata). It is exceptionally wet for an aapa mire this far in the south.

The Lehmisuo mire, also located in Pihtipudas, is a large undrained mire that houses numerous threatened and rare plant species, including the threatened Dactylorhiza lapponica, syn. Orchis lapponica and near threatened marsh orchid. It is also an important habitat for many bird species. About 60 hectares of this mire will now be protected.

The Lehtomäensuo in Karstula is mostly undrained and in its natural state with regard to its vegetation. Several nationally and regionally threatened bird species can be found there. About 130 hectares of this mire will now be protected.

The Saarisuo mire in Kiuruvesi is an aapa mire of about 98 hectares, with heavily drained margins. In this mire and areas adjacent to it, a total of 160 hectares will now be protected.

The Matolamminneva mire in Virrat is a mostly undrained and well-preserved mire area. Its surface area in total is 249 hectares, of which 130 hectares will be protected. The mire borders on the Natura area of the Pirjatanneva mire, and together they constitute a highly valuable habitat for avian fauna.

Helmi Programme strengthens the biodiversity of Finnish nature

The measures of the Helmi Habitats Programme of the Ministry of the Environment address the root cause of the decline in biodiversity in Finland: loss of habitats and deterioration of their quality.

The measures under the programme concern the protection and rehabilitation of mires, restoration of bird waters and wetlands, management of semi-natural grasslands and wooded habitats, and restoration of shore and aquatic environments. All actions taken under the programme are voluntary for the landowners. A compensation is paid for the areas to be protected and the State provides financial support for the restoration and management measures.

The Helmi Programme is a significant investment for the benefit of Finnish nature. The programme will continue until 2030, and the funds allocated for 2020 total EUR 42 million. The aim by the end of 2023 is to protect 20,000 hectares and rehabilitate 12,000 hectares of mires, and to restore 80 valuable bird water sites and 15,000 hectares of semi-natural grasslands. The measures will benefit hundreds of threatened species and the majority of Finland’s threatened habitats.

The Ministry of the Environment has appointed a broad-based steering group and a working group to prepare the objectives and content of the programme until 2030. The groups should complete their work by the end of March 2021. Based on the outcome of this work, the Ministry of the Environment will draw up a decision on the Helmi Programme to be submitted to the Government for approval during spring 2021.

Inquiries:

Päivi Gummerus-Rautiainen, Programme Manager, tel. +358 295 250 240, paivi.gummerus-rautiainen@ym.fi

Antti Heikkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. + 358 50 348 1406, antti.heikkinen@ym.fi

Ahti Martikainen, Director for Communications and Public Relations, Vapo Oy, tel. +358 40 680 4723, ahti.martikainen@vapo.fi