A lake with small islands in a sunny summer day.
Photo: Jari Ilmonen

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FRESHABIT LIFE IP – Healing the Kingdom of Water (metsahallitus.maps.arcgis.com)

Towards a cleaner Puruvesi (propuruvesi.maps.arcgis.com)

We are constructing fish passes, reviving the freshwater pearl mussel population, and restoring streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and peatlands. Our work is improving the state of inland waters and the diverse forms of nature that are dependent on them. We are producing fresh data and tools, as well as explaining what is happening in the kingdom of water.

What do brown trout, people, and freshwater pearl mussels have in common? It is the need for clean water, a vital condition for all three. FRESHABIT LIFE IP is an extensive nature conservation project where we restore inland waters such as lakes, rivers, and streams. We will improve the living conditions and habitats of brown trout and freshwater pearl mussels – and, at the same time, hundreds of other species – which have often been suffering or destroyed because of human activity. The improvement of habitats begins in the head waters and drainage areas, where even large water bodies originate, and work is also carried out in lakes and main rivers.

When you do something, do it properly: Seven years of extensive project, includes various types of work for the environment and nature, with approximately EUR 20 million. A significant 60 percent of the project budget is provided by the LIFE programme of the European Union.

As water bodies and drainage areas have no boundaries, the efforts of many people are needed. This includes an exceptionally large number of research institutes, government agencies, companies, organisations, and funding providers. Everyone is needed: Each brings their own special expertise to support others in the project.

Various restorations take place in eight different target areas, including streams, rivers, route waters, bird wetlands, and other lake areas with their drainage areas. The target areas include Karjaanjoki, Koitajoki, Naamijoki, Ostrobothnia rivers, Puruvesi, Saarijärvi route, Southwest Finland rivers, and Vanajavesi. In total, the restoration impact area is a whopping 80,000 hectares.

The objectives of the water restoration are to improve the habitat of water birds, freshwater pearl mussel, fish, and other aquatic and wetland organisms. In addition to these objectives, restorations can promote the recreational use of the areas and increase their attractiveness or nature and landscape conservation values, which makes this work beneficial for both people and nature.

From the beginning, the aim of the project has been to spread the good, and to multiply the LIFE funding. We have succeeded. Projects complementing FRESHABIT are already more than 80, with a total value of EUR 86 million. This is an impressive achievement for the good of nature, even in international standards. A part of the complementary projects originated from the FRESHABIT project, while others are cooperation with other projects. However, they all strive for a common objective with FRESHABIT: enhancing the status and diversity of aquatic habitats.

Read more about our work

Some of the materials produced by the project are in English. They are at our Finnish web page Materiaalit (Materials).

We have also made story maps about rehabilitating bird wetlands along the Vanajavesi route, about the work for the Tornionjoki sea trout,  about new methods for assessing the status of streams, lake mapping and a shared story of the freshwater pearl mussel and the trout in the Karjaanjoki river. Links to the story maps are at our homepage in Finnish.

Contact information

Project Manager Viliina Evokari
Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland
tel. +358 (0)40 182 5347

Follow us:
Twitter: #freshabit #vedenvaltakunta #kingdomofwater


Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland (project coordinator); The Association for Water and Environment of Western Uusimaa; Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Central Finland, Lapland, North Karelia, North Savo, South Ostrobothnia, South Savo and Southwest Finland; city of Raseborg; city of Saarijärvi; DocArt Productions; The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) and its district organisations in Central Finland, Ostrobothnia and South Häme; Finnish Environment Institute; Finnish Forest Centre; Finnish Society for Nature and Environment (Natur och Miljö); Geological Survey of Finland; Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd; Ministry of the Environment; Natural Resources Institute Finland; Pro Puruvesi (association); University of Helsinki, Lammi Biological Station; University of Jyväskylä; JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylä); University of Oulu; Vanajavesi Centre; Vattenfall; World Wildlife Fund Finland.


The Association for Water and Environment in Ostrobothnia; Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Häme and Pirkanmaa; Esse River Fund; Koskienergia Ltd; Municipality of Kolari; Towns of Kitee, Lohja and Savonlinna; YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company

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 EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Last updated 4 June 2021