Finland introduces ambitious biodiversity strategy
On 20 December 2012, the Government adopted a resolution on the 20122020 strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Finland. Entitled ‛Saving Nature for People, this strategy has the key target of halting biodiversity loss in Finland by 2020. This new strategy replaces the 20062016 national strategy. The decision to update the previous strategy formed part of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainens Government Programme.
The new strategy rests on a solid basis in terms of international agreements. It will implement the decisions made two years ago at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which are intended to make the global implementation of the Convention more effective. The strategy also takes account of the objectives of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy, and is based on a number of comprehensive national studies on the state of biodiversity in Finland and the factors influencing it.
Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö considered the resolution extremely important, stating: Finland has now made a commitment to implementing urgent and effective measures in order to finally put an end to biodiversity loss. This is an ambitious but extremely important goal, because a healthy natural world is also a cornerstone of human well-being. While nature itself has intrinsic value, it is also an essential element of a healthy and sustainable society and economic activity.
Bringing biodiversity into the mainstream
Biodiversity cannot be safeguarded by traditional nature conservation measures alone. The input of society as a whole is required. The strategy places economic and cultural values related to biodiversity at the heart of decision-making on the use of natural resources.
The strategys five objectives focus on the mainstreaming of biodiversity issues across society, the introduction of new participants in the work to advance biodiversity causes, a decision-making process based on robust research data, and Finland's responsibility, as a member of the international community, for global biodiversity. The strategy also outlines policies linking the Sámi communitys traditional knowledge to the protection of biodiversity.
Particular attention is paid to sustainable use of natural resources. Renewable resources should be used in a manner that ensures their genuine renewal and does not deplete them, while non-renewable resources should be used as eco-efficiently as possible.
It is essential that we use natural resources in a much more sustainable manner in the future. We must have the courage to act now, in order to preserve future generations opportunities to enjoy a good life in a sustainable society, stressed Mr Niinistö.
Taking account of managed habitats
The strategy also draws attention to the biodiversity of agricultural habitats, since as much as 93 per cent of semi-natural habitats are under threat. According to the government resolution, during the next EU funding period, agri-environmental subsidies will be allocated to measures rendering environmental protection and nature management more efficient, while environmental support criteria are made more incentive-based and subject to stronger financial conditions. New measures will be developed to manage semi-natural habitats outside farms.
Urban natural habitats and other heavily managed habitats have also proven very important to biodiversity. For example, a number of threatened species live on railway embankments and in groundwater ponds in gravel pits. Urban natural habitats also provide vital spaces for human recreation. Finland must therefore align species protection with land-use planning and the management of green spaces, while encouraging new solutions that enrich our habitats.
Finland has also made a commitment to the immediate ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.
Cooperation in a key role
The strategy was forged with the help of unusually broad cooperation. The strategy review was steered by the Ministry of the Environment, which appointed a broad-based biodiversity working group to discuss the strategy drafts and the results of workshops and feedback from the general public. During the strategy drafting stage, hundreds of people across Finland were able to participate in the work, through online consultations and live debates.
Mr Niinistö thanked all those who participated in the preparatory work. It has been a pleasure to observe the excitement raised by the preparations for this strategy. Alongside individual citizens, representatives of a wide range of organisations have taken clear ownership of this strategy and made very important contributions to it.
Cooperation will continue to play a key role in achieving the strategys objectives. The strategy will be implemented through an action plan, which is being developed with the help of broad-based cooperation between ministries, NGOs, stakeholders and various economic sectors. The draft action plan currently includes 112 measures. The plan will be finalised in early 2013.
The preparatory work bodes well for successful implementation. We have a great opportunity to implement an ambitious strategy and protect Finnish biodiversity, stressed Mr Niinistö.
For further information, contact:
Ilkka Heikkinen, Nature Conservation Director, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 40 506 1172
Counsellor Marina von Weissenberg, email: email@example.com, tel. +358 50 307 0806
Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment, Lasse Miettinen, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 40 507 6100