THE MINISTRY of the Environment is calling for a significant increase in protected forest areas in Finland.
The Ministry of the Environment states in its proposal for a new national biodiversity strategy that the nationwide share of strictly protected forests be raised from 6.9 to at least 10 per cent, a target that would necessitate the protection of around 630,000 hectares of forests.
Around 100,000 hectares of forests would be protected in privately owned and 530,000 hectares in state-owned forests.
As 10 per cent would be a nationwide target rather than a target for each province, the share of protected forests would likely remain low – below five per cent – in southern parts of the country despite their having the highest diversity of species, according to Helsingin Sanomat. In Southern Finland, less than five per cent of forest areas are presently protected.
The strategy itself would not increase protection or oblige anyone to take action because, once issued as a government resolution, it is binding only for the issuing government, the newspaper highlighted.
Its ultimate objective is to halt biodiversity loss in Finland – an objective that has already eluded a number of governments.
Although protecting and restoring forests and wetlands is a means toward the objective, changes are also required in areas used for human activities. The draft strategy states that the amount of decayed wood in commercial forests should be increased to 7.5 cubic metres per hectare by 2030 and to 10 cubic metres per hectare by 2035.
The number of large and old trees in commercial forests should similarly be increased.
Helsingin Sanomat wrote that the previous biodiversity strategy failed to put a stop to biodiversity loss by 2020, with analyses showing that two-thirds of the measures it forwarded had only a limited positive impact on biodiversity. The draft strategy therefore sets forth more detailed and measurable targets and focuses not only on protection, restoration and other conservation measures, but also attempts to address the causes of biodiversity loss, such as agriculture, consumption, forestry and zoning.
Finland, the strategy declares, requires a sustainability shift. The shift will necessitate swift and comprehensive changes in all social systems and the re-alignment of such systems with the ecological carrying capacity.
“The sustainability shift requires changes in values and behaviour and, as a result, the final timespan of the reformation is long and intergenerational. If carried out, the shift brings many changes also to the everyday lives of people and it is therefore important the changes are implemented justly.”