Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO)

METSO-metsää3.jpg
Photo:Markku Meriluoto

Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO aims to

  • halt the ongoing decline in the biodiversity of forest habitats and species, and
  • establish stable favourable trends especially in Southern Finland’s forest ecosystems.

Voluntary-based conservation

METSO Programme offers three options for forest owner:

  1. Permanent protection
  2. Temporary protection
  3. Nature management in forest habitats

The programme aims to activate voluntary-based conservation agreements between forest owners and authorities. This voluntary-based approach has been warmly welcomed by forest owners, NGOs, forest companies and authorities. An increasing number of forest owners are interested in preserving ecologically valuable forest habitats by offering their forests either for temporary conservation or for permanent protection. Active nature management of the sites can be included in both fixed-term conservation agreements or in permanent ones.

Forest owners value the voluntary approach, the independence in decision-making and the chance to retain their property rights in the available conservation schemes. Forest owners get full financial

compensation equivalent to the value of timber at the protected site. With permanent protection, the private forest owner’s income from the site is tax free. Additionally, protected sites can be used for naturebased tourism and recreation.

For forest companies, METSO offers tools for sustainable forestry and provides a green image that is also attractive to customers abroad.

METSO is coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The programme is set to run until 2025.

Ecological shopping list

The site selection criteria define what kind of ecologically valuable habitats are to be protected in the programme. The criteria are based on the ecological structure of forests and on forest habitats important for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Sites are especially favoured where habitats are well preserved in their natural state or could easily be restored, where they host rare or endangered species, or where they are important for ecological connectivity.

Zonation is a conservation planning framework and software. Zonation helps in recognizing the most valuable forest habitats

On a smaller scale, measures are particularly taken to conserve forests that are rich in biodiversity because they contain features such as decaying wood, burnt or charred wood, mature broad-leaved trees, large aspen trees, nutrient-rich soils, springs, brooks, and other natural water features. Consideration may also be given to impacts on economic activities, recreation, tourism and cultural values, if they also support biodiversity conservation.

METSO targets

The Finnish government’s objective by 2025 is to have sites covering about 96 000 hectares that will be voluntarily offered by landowners to be established as private nature reserves or that will be acquired by the State. In addition, about 82 000 hectares of valuable forest habitats will be protected in commercially managed privately owned forests. With these aims, METSO is also fulfilling the targets set in the national biodiversity strategy and the related action plan.

Published 2016-02-16 at 13:35, updated 2016-03-09 at 15:50