Structure: Number of varieties


There are 41 gene reserve forests in Finland covering altogether 6 537 hectares in 2013. Scots pine, European spruce and birches occupy the largest area in gene reserve forests, 6 453 hectares equaling 98,7% of the total area. Lime tree, maple, ash and oak have altogether six gene reserve forests at the moment. The total area of Scots pine, European spruce, birches and lime tree forests have not yet reached their target levels. Requirements for gene reserve forests are for example reproducing from original, local seeds and that the forest hosts several age classes. Also natural regeneration is preferable.                                                                                                                                                      


Genetic material of rare tree species have been conserved in ex-situ conservation collections. In Finland there are collections of maple (Acer platanoides), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), oak (Quercus robur), common linden (Tilia cordata), European white elm (Ulmus laevis) and wych elm (Ulmus glabra). The collections have been gathered from random and extensive samples composing wide genetic variation.


Native breeds of vegetables, herbs, medicinal herbs and field plants started to become rarer in the 1930s and many of them disappeared by the beginning of the 1960s. The protection of the genetic material began in many cases too late. Nevertheless, Nordic Gene Bank was established in 1979 and at the moment Finland has deposited there about 1 600 seed samples.

In addition to the Nordic Gene Bank, genetic material is also conserved in national field banks and laboratories, botanical gardens and arboretums as well as in their natural environments in farms and gardens. The national inventory of Finnish plant genetic resources is ongoing.


The national programme for farm animal genetic resources aims to prevent the extinction of native breeds and to promote sustainable conservation of the landraces. At the moment the threaten breeds include eastern and northern Finncattle, the Kainuu grey sheep, Åland’s sheep and working type of the Finnhorse. The breed is considered threatened when there are less than 1 000 females and 20 males in the population. Rare native breeds are western Finncattle, Finnhorse in general, Finnish landrace goat and Finnsheep.

Population of native chicken has risen in recent years because of effective conservation measures. There have been also two types of native pigs in Finland but they have both become extinct. Other native breeds include for example Finnish hound, Finnish spitz, Karelian spitz, Lappish reindeer dog and Nordic dark bee.

There are two state funded prison farms in Finland that maintain the populations of northern and eastern Finncattle and Finnsheep. Financial subsidies are also paid for private farms for growing landraces. Nevertheless, there is an increasing need for embryo and semen banks in order to ensure viable population and to secure the continuity of the native breeds.


Gene reserve forests. Finnish Forest Research Institute. [In Finnish]

Map of gene reserve forests. Finnish Forest Research Institute. [In Finnish]

Ex-situ -suojelu. Finnish Forest Research Institute. [In Finnish]

Genetic resources – Securing biodiversity. MTT Agrifood Research Finland. Finnish Forest Research Institute. The National Board for Genetic Resources.


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