Basic Data on Natural Habitat Types in Protected Areas
In 2002, a large project was started, the aim of which is to collect recent data on natural habitat types in protected areas by 2007. The inventory is made on an area of 17 000 sq.km. In Southern Finland, in the western part of the Province of Oulu, and in the southwestern part of Lapland, the project is part of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO.
Metsähallitus uses the data on natural habitat types for management planning of the protected areas. With this information it is possible to allocate the restoration measures and nature management work to the areas where they are necessary, and to classify them by urgency. The data also enables Metsähallitus to limit hiking on sensitive areas, for example. It is used for research and, among other things, as a part of Habitats Directive monitoring. The data on natural habitat types is important background information also for assessing threatened habitat types in Finland.
Why Are the New Extensive Data Needed?
- The previous data have been collected for commercial forestry purposes, which are different from the needs of management of protected areas.
- On some of the areas, the data are as old as 20 years, and partly outdated.
- Metsähallitus has inherited or purchased some of the areas without getting any information on their natural features, or the information has been very insufficient.
- On some areas, there were data on vegetation, which had been collected for nature conservation purposes, but they could not be transferred directly to the geographical information systems of Metsähallitus.
Around 2000, Metsähallitus defined the data needed from the protected areas, and made the necessary alterations in the geographical information systems. The new data is quite different from the old, especially inventories on poorly productive land, unproductive land and other lands are more specific than before, as well as inventories on mires. Data on Natura 2000 habitat types are also collected on all the areas, as well as the information about the representativeness and closeness to the natural state of the habitat type. More specific inventories are also made on the tree stand and shrubbery, in particular.
Most of the information is gathered by field surveys. In the northern Finland, remote sensing is the most common method of inventory, but field surveys are also in use on some areas there, and on the areas with most diversity a remarkable part is done by field surveys.
In 2004, a similar inventory started on privately-owned nature reserves. This inventory is made by the same method, designed by Metsähallitus.
Metsähallitus, in co-operation with several partners, is developing a method for inventories on the underwater natural features of the sea.
- The Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO (www.metsonpolku/en)