According to an assessment by Luke, the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO has succeeded in selecting valuable forest sites for protection.
What are the nature values of METSO sites, and how well do they meet the objectives of the programme? The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has studied the subject by surveying sites in Uusimaa, North Savo, Southern Ostrobothnia and Kuusamo, and a few sites in South-East Finland.
Natural scientific criteria are applied in the selection of protected areas. The criteria have been found to fulfil their purpose very well.
There were significantly more threatened polypore and beetle species at the best, so-called first-class sites than at the second- and third-class sites.
“With regard to the implementation of METSO, this is an encouraging and important result. As the selection criteria are effective, one can be confident that, by using the criteria, valuable sites will be protected also in the future,” Luke’s researcher Juha Siitonen summarises.
The inventoried sites were very different from one another. They included large and small areas, and sites with many or few threatened species. Differences were also detected between and within geographical areas.
“In future, we should prioritise the best – i.e. large and valuable – areas for conservation sites instead of protecting small and scattered sites. Protection would then be most effective from the perspective of the programme’s objectives.”
In Kuusamo, nearly ten times as many threatened species were found in the first-class areas than in Uusimaa, North Savo and Southern Ostrobothnia. The sites in Southern Ostrobothnia were the poorest.
“This is probably attributable to the fact that the forest management history in Southern Ostrobothnia is longer and more intensive than in the other regions. In Kuusamo, on the other hand, stands with threatened species have been preserved.”
In South-East Finland, only three sites were inventoried, but they could be likened to the sites in Kuusamo. Threatened species are probably spreading from Russia’s dead-wood-rich forests to South-East Finland.
”Based on this, special efforts should be taken to protect areas in South-East Finland and close to the border. In addition, species that are not found elsewhere in Southern Finland can be found there. ”
”However, we should not conclude, that conservation is not worthwhile, for example, in Southern Ostrobothnia,” Siitonen emphasises. This would lead to areas where biodiversity has decreased faring even more poorly in the future.
The results show that the METSO programme works and protects ecologically valuable sites.
“New valuable areas can be found , and forest owners are willing to offer sites to protection,” says Luke’s researcher Terhi Koskela.
But cutting the programme’s funding is a problem. Siitonen and Koskela estimate that, based on current resources, it will be impossible to protect the number of hectares specified in the programme objectives by 2025.
What is METSO?
- Metso is the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland
- The objective is to halt the decline of forest habitats and forest species and to establish the favourable development of biodiversity by 2025.
- Conservation is voluntary and forest owners protecting their forests will be compensated
- One can protect a forest for a fixed term or permanently, or advance biodiversity by taking nature management actions.
- The programme is implemented by ELY centres and the Finnish Forest Centre (private land), and by Metsähallitus (State-owned land)
- www.metsonpolku.fi (in English)
Text: Maarit Perkonoja, Luke
Photo on top of the page: Juha Siitonen / Luke
Published in Finnish in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 14 of November.