Flying squirrel sitting on a branch
A flying squirrel sitting on a branch. Photo: Ari Seppä / Vastavalo.

The Flying Squirrel LIFE project improves the conservation of flying squirrels in Europe through co-operation. The project brings together key actors in land use, such as land-use planning and forestry, as well as information on the habitat networks of flying squirrels.

In Europe, the flying squirrel is only found in Finland and Estonia. The species is classified as vulnerable within the European Union due to the rapid decline in its population.

Read more about our work in our excellent brochure and watch the video:

Watch the flying squirrels playing by their nest ( More videos you can find from page Events and media library.

Check out the published project guides on the Guide page:Cover pages of four guides published in Flying Squirrel LIFE

Habitat networks are key

The biggest threats to the flying squirrel are the reduction and fragmentation of suitable habitats, i.e. breaking down into smaller and separated areas.

Having interconnected habitats is vital to the flying squirrel. Habitats form functional networks, thus allowing the animals to move between suitable habitats. When they are able to move between habitats, flying squirrels can live their lives from generation to generation over extensive areas.

Safeguarding habitat networks is a sustainable way of improving the long-term conservation of flying squirrels. Because this is a major challenge, tackling it will also require a wide range of actors. The Flying Squirrel LIFE project is coordinated by Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, with 17 partners from Finland and Estonia. The project covers the entire range of flying squirrels in Europe.

We promote the conservation of flying squirrels through four sub-objectives:

  • To prevent and decelerate habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • To increase co-operation among key stakeholders and develop tools for fluent land-use planning.
  • To improve the quality and availability of flying squirrel data.
  • To increase the exchange of knowledge and acceptance of conservation.

The project has approximately 120 areas of activity in total. The budget is EUR 8.9 million, most of which is EU LIFE Nature Programme funding. The project will last approximately 6.5 years (1 August 2018 – 31 March 2025).

Further information

Project Manager Eija Hurme
Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland
tel. +358 (0)40 486 0563

Project Officer Saara Airaksinen
Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland
tel. +358 (0)40 779 2680

Flying Squirrel LIFE project on the European Union website (
Flying squirrel in the Finnish assessment of threatened species, i.e. the Red List (


There are 13 project partners in Finland and 4 in Estonia. Go to the Project partners page.

Photo includes the logos of each project partner (15 logos).

Socio-economic and ecosystem impacts

In order to gain knowledge and an understanding of the flying squirrel and convey it to the general public, we will be investigating the impacts of the project on the state of the flying squirrel population. We will be discussing the flying squirrel in a variety of ways.

Sosio-economic impacts

What thoughts come to mind concerning protection of the flying squirrel? Would I like to have a flying squirrel living next door? How much does it cost to protect the living conditions of a flying squirrel? What kind of impacts can forest use have on the entire distribution area of the flying squirrel? We humans are interested in many things!

We will prepare a comprehensive report on the socio-economic impacts of the Flying Squirrel LIFE Project.

Natural Resources Institute Finland carried out a participatory survey in order to collect information about areas that residents find important in terms of recreation and natural values. Results are published as maps showing important recreational areas in relation to areas suitable for flying squirrel. The survey was done in three cities in Finland: Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Espoo.

Ecosystem impacts

How will different methods of protecting flying squirrels affect the forest structure and the distribution of the species in the future? For example, if the amount of suitable habitat or movement corridors between habitats is given priority in the use of forests, will it be necessary to reduce forestry yields over the long term?

In the project, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) will compare the estimated impacts of various felling and conservation measures on the number of forests and habitat networks of flying squirrels.

The consequences of different objectives will be assessed over a period of a few decades, i.e. as future scenarios. By comparing scenarios, it will be possible to identify an appropriate strategic approach in which both the protection of flying squirrels and the commercial use of forests can be combined in a sustainable manner.

The project has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union. The material reflects the views by the authors, and the European Commission or the CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Last updated 8 January 2024