Implementation of the NBSAP
In December 2012, the Finnish Government adopted the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (2012-2020) entitled ‛Saving Nature for People’. Replacing the National Strategy (2006-2016), the vision of the new Strategy is to halt biodiversity loss in Finland by 2020 and ensure the favourable status of biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2050 (Finland will also assume active responsibility for issues related to biodiversity in international contexts). The Government stresses the achievement of the overarching goals through mainstreaming actions across government and society, changing attitudes and institutional processes, and enhancing cooperation. Further, the Strategy’s mission emphasizes, among other principles, that actions must consider biodiversity issues and values as fundamental elements in decision-making. Comprised of 5 strategic goals and 20 national targets, the new Strategy has been formulated in compliance with the Strategic Plan (2011-2020) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as with the targets set out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Relevant ministries have been assigned to implement the Strategy by working in cooperation with civil society, commercial interests and other stakeholders to create a cost-effective and purposeful Action Plan that contains quantitative and qualitative bases for monitoring. Implementation of the Strategy will also be conducted in a manner respectful of the indigenous Sámi community’s traditional knowledge and practices related to biodiversity.
The Action Plan has been adopted for fulfilling the goals and targets set by the Government until 2020, while giving due consideration to national needs and priorities, and will be implemented within spending limits defined in central government budget frameworks. Progress on the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan will be monitored and assessed, with findings reported to the Government in 2015.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Finland’s network of protected areas is quite extensive, with some 12% of the country’s total surface under protection, and up to 15% when other areas reserved for nature conservation programs are added, including the Natura 2000 sites which encompass significant areas for marine and coastal biotopes and species. Notably, Finland has adopted Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 as a national target thereby committing to increase, by 2020, protected area coverage of terrestrial environments and inland waters to 17%, and coastal and marine areas to 10%.
The aim of the METSO Forest Biodiversity Programme (2008–2016) for Southern Finland is to halt the ongoing decline in forest biodiversity. The programme covers both private and state-owned land and is being carried out collaboratively among the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finnish Environment Institute and the Forest Development Centre TAPIO. Finland is also at the moment preparing new forest legislation.
A resolution on a programme for implementing river basin management plans for the years 2010-2015 was approved by Government in February 2011. This programme sets out in detail actions for different sectors to carry out for improving the condition of inland waters, while also allocating responsibility for implementing actions to various entities. Another resolution, adopted in March 2012, pertains to a National Fishway Strategy which aims to strengthen the vitality of threatened and vulnerable migratory fish populations, representing a shift in emphasis away from fish introductions towards measures that maintain and restore the natural reproductive cycles of fish populations. The Government also plans to enhance fishing legislation, with consideration given to implementing the EU Fisheries Control Regulation in this process. A further resolution, adopted in August 2012, defines a strategy for the sustainable and responsible use and conservation of mires and peatlands.
Climate change may particularly affect the culture of the indigenous Sámi people, since most of Finland’s arctic fells lie within the Sámi Homeland region. Indicators to illustrate such trends urgently need to be devised. The Government will particularly pay attention to the vulnerability of nature in northern regions, to the need for better monitoring and forecasting of threat factors, and to conservation and sustainable use, both nationally by clarifying legislation and administrative practices related to land use, and internationally in cooperation with other countries in the Arctic and Barents Euro-Arctic regions. The Government will also enhance the rights of the Sámi as an indigenous people, for instance by clarifying legislation related to land use and by participating actively in international cooperation to strengthen the legal and practical protection of indigenous peoples.
The Finnish Government aims to channel support for agri-environmental activities through the EU’s multiannual financial framework (2014-2020) and amend the qualifying conditions for such subsidies so as to provide additional incentives to farmers for enhancing environmental protection and nature management at the regional and farm levels.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
In Finland, the principle of sectoral responsibility has been adopted in the conservation of biodiversity, meaning that each sector takes responsibility for reducing its harmful impacts on the natural environment. This principle has been duly adopted by the various branches of the government, and each of the relevant government ministries - particularly agriculture and forestry, transport, communication, defense and education - has developed their plans for biodiversity and provided training for their personnel working on biodiversity issues.
Biodiversity considerations have been favorably integrated into new and revised legislation, including the Land Use and Building Act (which also deals with the designation of National Urban Parks (NUPs)), Penal Code, Gene Technology Act and Decree, Nature Conservation Act, Forest Act, Water Act and the Wilderness Act. Finland’s Land Extraction Act aims to control the extraction of mineral resources so as to support environmentally sustainable development. For the permit system to function effectively, however, more information is needed about the natural values of rock and soil formations. Many more new mines, mining claims and applications for concessions are being established today than in previous decades. Mining activities have particularly intensified in Northern and Eastern Finland. Finland’s mining legislation has been renewed, and the new legislation gives more consideration to the need to conserve biodiversity than earlier legislation did.
Sámi customary law related to biodiversity guides traditional land use practices, defines communities’ internal relationships with regard to land use, establishes principles for the common use of areas by the Sámi, and ensures that natural resources are used sustainably in line with Sámi legal concepts. In June 2011, Finland became a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and intends to ratify the Protocol without delay.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
Concerning monitoring tools and programmes, a large-scale inventory programme (VELMU Programme) of the most important marine underwater biotopes and distribution and range of different species and fish breeding grounds was initiated in 2004 and will be completed in 2015. With a view to developing a unified GIS application for managing protected areas, the Ministry of the Environment established a programme (SALTI) for creating IT systems for protected areas in the 2008-2011 period, assigning responsibility for the work to the Natural Heritage Services (NHS) Unit. Recently, additional resources have become available for research into species thanks to the Research Programme on Deficiently Known and Threatened Forest Species (PUTTE), which forms a part of the METSO Forest Biodiversity Programme.
The Government will intensify species protection in Finland by drafting and implementing a species protection action plan in collaboration with key actors in this field. The plan should improve the cost effectiveness, comprehensiveness and impact of species protection measures, while also ensuring that monitoring and research can continue in the long term, data on species is well managed and related voluntary work is well organised and supported.
Indicators of trends in climate change form a good basis for assessing how rapidly and extensively changes may be reflected in natural ecosystems. The first version of the web-based tool FINESSI, devised by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), combines the findings of six climate models, four emission scenarios and three impact models. Sufficient indicators exist for monitoring trends in the state of the Baltic marine environment, but there is still a need to enhance monitoring of the areas and quality of underwater and coastal habitats. There is a need to develop suitable indicators to describe ecosystem services and related trends and for monitoring the natural state and coherence of rivers, streams, springs and ponds. Both quantitative and qualitative indicators are needed to monitor the desired improvements in opportunities for natural fish species to reproduce and the sustainability of fishing levels. Indicators to illustrate trends in biotopes and species in arctic fell environments urgently need to be devised due to the rapid rate of climate change in these northern regions. Indicators for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity should be devised to facilitate the monitoring of the numbers and structural features of protected areas, recreation areas and other areas preserved in a fairly natural state, for the purposes of land use planning.