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EU continues to offer major support for nature conservation in Finland: Metsähallitus coordinates three new LIFE projects


Metsähallitus,Parks & Wildlife Finland, has yet again received extensive funding from the EU for three new long-term LIFE nature conservation projects. The projects will be implemented in cooperation with an extensive partner network. The total budget of the projects is more than EUR 20 million, of which the EU funding covers more than 65%.

Hikers on a meadow nature trail close to the medieval Raseborg Castle. Photo: Aino von Boehm, Metsähallitus.

With the help of the EU's nature conservation funding, Metsähallitus and its partners have been able to more than double their self-financing portion several years in a row: including the projects that will start in 2018, Metsähallitus has been involved in a total of 53 LIFE projects between 1995 and 2018. The combined budget of these projects has been EUR 123 million, of which EUR 65 million has been EU funding. The number of projects is one of the highest in the EU.

The currently approved projects will resolve challenges pertaining to the conservation of Siberian flying squirrels, as well as restore habitats of endangered beetles and important natural environments in coastal areas and the archipelago.

Flying squirrel (Pteromys volans). Photo: Ari Seppä / VastavaloParticipants of the Flying Squirrel LIFE Project include a varied group of actors from Finland and Estonia who will resolve land use challenges which are linked to the conservation of the Siberian flying squirrel. In this project, actors from the forest sector, forest owners (including the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, the Finnish Forest Centre and Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd), nature conservation activists and land use planners will create practical procedures for taking into account Siberian flying squirrels when managing forests in the wilderness, as well as forests and parks in urban areas.

Key Siberian flying squirrel cities, such as Espoo, Jyväskylä and Kuopio, are involved in the project. As the project is realised in cooperation with Estonian partners, it covers the entire natural range of the Siberian flying squirrel in the EU. The budget is EUR 8.9 million.

 Cucujus cinnaberinus in an endangered beetle that live in old forests. The Beetles LIFE Project aims to protect them. Photo: Teemu Rintala, MetsähallitusThe Beetles LIFE Project focuses on restoration of current and future habitats of eight endangered beetle species that are protected by the EU, such as Cucujus cinnaberinus, Pytho kolwensis and Phryganophilus ruficollis. The project will burn forests, secure the existence of European aspen and restore woodlands. The project consists of 26 sites, most of which are located in Eastern Finland and Kainuu. Some of the sites are located in Häme, Central Finland and Lapland. The budget is EUR 2.7 million.

The Restoring Baltic Coastal Habitat Networks LIFE Project (CoastNet LIFE) involves the restoration of important habitats in the Finnish coastal areas and archipelago, such as sunlit habitats, coastal meadows, groves and pasturage, at eight conservation area concentrations ranging from the Gulf of Finland to the Bothnian Bay. The project will subdue Rosa rugosa, which has spread into the outer archipelago, to improve habitats of the Apollo butterfly, for example. The project also involves a great deal of voluntary work. The budget is EUR 8.8 million.

LIFE projects provide funding for nature conservation and create jobs in the provinces

Funds have been allocated for the nature conservation work done by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland unit in the state budget, but the EU LIFE projects have allowed multiplication of the self-financing. For example, in 2017 the self-funding share of Metsähallitus for its five LIFE projects was EUR 0.5 million and the EU funding amounted to EUR 1.5 million. Self-funding is necessary to obtain project funding, however.

The LIFE projects also have major direct and indirect employment impacts. For example, EUR 10 million has been budgeted for salaries in the three projects that are currently starting. This means 220 person-years for the project partners. Almost seven million euros will be used to purchase a variety of services. The projects will employ or benefit biologists, foresters, forestry engineers, entrepreneurs with forest machines and other contractors, as well as a variety of service providers.

"The LIFE projects are a win for regional employment and activity in the area," rejoices Mikko Tiira, a development manager at Metsähallitus. "Another important issue are the projects' extensive partner networks that allow the projects to develop multisectoral solutions for a variety of nature conservation and social challenges."

National Park Bringing New Feeling of Optimism to Hossa

by Fran Weaver, August 2017

Lenny Daly of the local firm Hossan Lumo feels that the new Hossa National Park provides ideal settings for the trendy outdoor activity of SUP-boarding. The Daly family's dog Vicky is also on board. Photo: Maija Daly, Hossan Lumo

The opening in June 2017 of Finland's 40th national park at Hossa, to mark the centenary of the Finland's independence, has been a great boost for local entrepreneurs offering services related to nature tourism and outdoor recreation. New jobs and income are very welcome in this part of Finland's north-eastern borderlands, between the towns of Kuusamo and Suomussalmi.

The clear waters and sandy shores of Hossa National Park are particularly popular among paddlers. Visitors can rent kayaks from local firms or join guided paddling tours to discover the park's highlights. Photo: Hannu Huttu / Metsähallitus

Local firms are already providing a wider range of services for increasing numbers of visitors with different interests. The small family firm Hossan Lumo, run by locally born Maija Daly and her Irish husband Lenny Daly, rents out equipment including fat tyre mountain bikes, kayaks and SUP-boards, while also offering cosy cabin accommodation and lovely lakeside locations for tents and caravans.

Lenny Daly feels that Hossa provides ideal settings for many popular outdoor pursuits. "Hossa's clear blue lakes are great for paddling, and Finland is now also catching on to the international boom in SUP-boarding," he says. "The trails along Hossa's sandy ridges are likewise ideal for mountain biking or hiking." 

Hossa Reindeer Park gives visitors to the nearby national park a chance to get up close to reindeer. Raili Karvonen brings tasty snacks out to some of the park's residents. Photo: Sini Salmirinne

Maija Daly believes that especially for foreign visitors, Hossa's new status as a national park makes it much more attractive than its previous designation as a hiking area. 

"There's a new feeling of optimism as interest in Hossa increases, and people are getting keen to branch out and start new businesses and activities."  

Joga instructor, wilderness guide Saija Taivalmäki is one of the new entrepeuneurs working in Hossa National Park. Photo: Raili Takolander

National parks, national hiking areas and other protected areas provide the visitors with unforgettable moments, best sceneries and hiking and skiing facilities. Read more about the self-guided tours.

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