Farmland habitats comprise the fifth most common habitat type in Finland. Altogether there are 2.7 million hectares of farmlands, which corresponds to 7% of the total area on the country. Proportionate to their total area, farmland habitats are species rich habitat type: 16% of all well-known species are primarily farmland species. Farmland habitats are still diverse and varying biotopes, even though the small scale variation in rural landscape has decreased during the last decades.
Traditional rural biotopes are the most species-rich farmland habitats, while usually left outside actual crop growing. Half of the farmland species occur on dry meadows. Mesic meadows are a primary habitat for 15%, moist meadows and wooded pastures each for 13% and cultivated lands for 9% of well-known farmland species.
Overall, farmlands include a variable group of biotopes which can be placed between natural state and urban environments. They are cultivated ecosystems formed from natural ecosystems by human activity.
What and where?
According to agricultural statistics, the total area of fields, orchads, natural grasslands and pastures is approximately 2.25 million hectares. In the National Forest Inventories, the area of farmlands has been larger, about 2.75 million hectares. This difference is due to different definitions for agricultural land. In the National Forest Inventories parts of environments in immediate proximity of cultivated lands, are also included in the definition of farmlands. From the biodiversity point of view, this wider definition is more accurate, because of the great signifigance of buffer zones and field margins for the farmland species. In this context, farmland habitats mean the mosaic of cultivated lands with small woods and constructed areas in between.
Farmlands are an important part of Finnish nature. They are however distributed unevenly. In the coastal areas, farmlands cover nearly one third of the total area on average, but the share is decreased in inland areas. Farmlands are most common in south-western Finland and southern Ostrobothnia, where the share of agricultural land is more than 20% of the total area. Instead, in northern and eastern Finland, agricultural land covers less than 10% or even less than 5% of the total area on average.
- Updated (14.05.2013)