Reform of the Nature Conservation Act begins with public consultation

Ministry of the Environment 24.1.2020 7.59 | Published in English on 24.1.2020 at 8.30
Press release

The process to reform the Nature Conservation Act has been started with an online survey to hear the people’s views in the very beginning of the process. The project comprises the reform of the Nature Conservation Act and Nature Conservation Decree and drafting of a new act concerning the compensation for damages caused by protected species. The third element to be developed is ecological compensation.

“Finnish nature is close to all our hearts: it offers recreation and wonderful experiences, as well as vital services such as pollination. We are reforming our nature conservation legislation in order to cherish our natural environments even better than before and to halt the loss of biodiversity. It is important to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the reform process. This is how we can achieve the best outcome,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

On Friday 24 January, an online survey  was opened to find out the views of the general public regarding the reform of the Nature Conservation Act.

The survey is available in six languages: Finnish, Swedish, English North Saami, Inari Saami and Skolt Saami.

In addition to the survey, opinions will be collected informally on the Ministry’s social media channels, and key stakeholders will be invited to consultation and discussion events.

The reform of the nature conservation legislation will be based on the outcome of the questionnaire and other consultations.

The means used and impact of the Nature Conservation Act to be strengthened

The Nature Conservation Act is one of the key instruments in the efforts to ensure the biodiversity of Finnish natural environment. However, the present act is more than 20 years old and needs to be reformed to protect and safeguard the species, habitats and ecosystem services even better than before.

The present means available under the Nature Conservation Act are not effective enough and they need to be improved. According to the impact assessment conducted by the Finnish Environment Institute in 2010, the act needs to be clarified and its effectiveness strengthened. The impact assessment will be updated by the end of 2020 to serve the legislative reform.

The key objectives of the reform are to promote the protection of biodiversity through more effective legislation, make nature conservation even more widely acceptable, and improve the administrative procedures. The objectives also include the clarification of the role of the Nature Conservation Act as part of the legislative framework concerning environmental protection and consideration of how the Nature Conservation Act can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The government proposal for a new Nature Conservation Act should be completed by the end of 2021.

A new act to clarify the compensation for damages caused by protected species

The project will prepare a proposal for an act concerning the procedures to compensate for damages caused by protected species and to prevent such damages in advance. During the past decade, there has been a considerable increase in damages caused by protected bird species in particular. The aim of the new act is to develop the advance prevention of damages and clarify the procedures for the granting and payment of compensations and the related control.

The government proposal for an act concerning the compensation for damages caused by protected species should be completed by the end of 2020.

Ecological compensation as a means to compensate for damages to natural environment

In the context of the reform of the Nature Conservation Act, the possibilities of making use of ecological compensation will be developed and tested, with the main focus on the legislative perspective. Through ecological compensation, adverse effects on biodiversity caused by human action in a certain area are compensated for by improving biodiversity in another area.

Ecological compensation is envisaged as a last resort, meaning that it would only be used in situations where no other feasible solutions can be found to avoid damage to the natural environment. The project will specify in more detail the cases where such compensations could be used and the procedures to be applied.

Broad-based steering group to lead the reform

The Ministry of the Environment has appointed a steering group with broad representation of different stakeholders and public bodies to follow the progress of the reform. The steering group held its first meeting on Thursday 23 January to discuss the project and the way forward in its implementation. The steering group is chaired by Permanent Secretary Hannele Pokka.

In addition, a broad-based project group has been appointed to promote the progress of each of the three projects. The work of these groups will start in January-February and their term will end on 30 September 2021.

The groups will make use of the results of the online questionnaire and consultations in their work.

Inquiries:

Requests for interviews with the Minister: Antti Heikkinen, Special Adviser, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 231

Nature Conservation Act: Johanna Korpi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 278

Act on compensations for damages caused by protected species: Hanne Lohilahti, Senior Specialist, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 374

Ecological compensation: Leila Suvantola, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected], tel. +358 29 525 0433