Throughout the ages the use of natural resources has shaped the natural state of forests and waters, while affecting their conservation value, game and fish habitats, and landscapes. Metsähallitus National Parks Finland, Wildlife Service Finland and Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd are now upgrading diminished habitats as part of their fundamental mission, and with the help of additional funding, in various projects and in the Helmi Habitats Programme.
National Parks Finland restores about 5,000 hectares of mires each year, with an eventual overall target of 30,000 hectares. Each year Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd conducts habitat management measures, on 1,000 hectares, including restoration of mires, care for groves, management of sun-exposed environments and maintenance of areas affected by fires. In addition, obstacles are removed from fish migration routes in nearly 100 different locations.
Metsähallitus Wildlife Service Finland is upgrading about 20 different rapids areas on ten different rivers and is involved in removing intrusive predators from nearly 70 protected areas. The benefits are all-encompassing and cross-cutting. The natural values of each target – game, fish, berries, landscapes, and recreational use – are improving.
The innovative tool development of Wildlife Service Finland deserves special recognition. Last autumn, a small suction dredger was introduced in upgrading waterways. The device, the size of a quad bike, can be used for improving the condition of streams and small rivers. With its help, one person can remove solid material that has accumulated from a catchment area and to restore spawning grounds for river trout, for example. Development work on the machine is ongoing, and in the future, these machines are likely to be seen around the country in restoration work in catchment areas.
In the upgrading of habitats, each unit has a link in the whole connected to its own activities and operating environment. Valuable input is needed from each unit if we are to achieve healthy catchment areas and ecosystems with mires, streams, and flowing waters.
A significant part of the habitat work of National Parks Finland and Wildlife Service Finland is now funded separately. It is very important to ensure the continuity of the funding. In addition to this, it is important to make sure that the annual basic funding of these units covers activities that produce concrete, long-term, and diverse benefits. In addition, Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd should be capable of continuing its valuable habitat work on behalf of our nature.
We need to have a long-term goal of whole, healthy catchment areas and ecosystems from the hydrological divides all the way to the sea. This goal challenges both the political supervision of Metsähallitus, and our own ability to network regionally in a manner that secures the results also for land and waters that are not state-owned.
Acting Director, Wildlife Service Finland, Jyrki Tolonen, jyrki.tolonen (at)metsa.fi
This article was published in Finnish in the Metsähallitus publication Metsä.fi 3/2021.