Natura 2000 Areas: Established to Protect Biotopes and Species
The Natura 2000 network is in place to conserve important biotopes and species throughout Europe. The purpose of the Natura 2000 programme is to preserve nature’s diversity.
Finland´s suggestion for Natura 2000 areas includes protected areas, wilderness areas and areas taking part in nature conservation programmes. The network also aims to protect the natural features which have not been conserved in the past. Examples of such natural features are underwater vegetation in the archipelago and along Finland’s coast, lakes, large rivers, small bodies of water, cliffs and cultural environments.
The government drew up its first motion to the European Union concerning Finland’s Natura 2000 areas in 1998. Latere on, the motion has been added to.
After Finland’s motion was added to in March 2012 it covered 1,865 areas which were in accordance to the EU’s nature directive or bird directive.
The combined area of all Finland’s Natura 2000 areas measures 49,000 sq. km or 15% of Finland’s territory. Almost 80% of the area covered by the motion is state-owned and maintained by Metsähallitus.
The European Union’s Commission has a decision about Natura 2000 areas in the Alpine Zone. Nineteen areas in northernmost Lapland in Finland were accepted as such. Their combined area measures 17,900 sq. km. The rest of Finland is within the boreal zone. The Commission has also made its decision concerning Natura 2000 areas in the boreal zone. All the suggestions made by Finland have now been approved by the EU.
Conservation of Natura 2000 areas can be ensured by governmental legislation, by administrative orders or by voluntary agreements. For the most part conservation leans on the Nature Conservation Act and the Wilderness Act, but nature is also conserved with laws such as the Forest Act, the Water Act, the Outdoor Recreation Act, the Land Use and Building Act and the Earth and Soil Act. Any activity which does not compromise conservation efforts can be permitted in these areas.