FA16 Management of traditional rural biotopes

  This is a response (R) indicator. DPSIR= drivers, pressures, state, impact, responses. These response measures did not exits before 1990 (background). Moderate increasing trend of positive impact in the 20th century after 1990 (arrow).
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Traditional rural biotopes are managed mainly on regular farms on the side of other farming practices. Since 1995 the management of traditional rural biotopes has been encouraged by means of special contracts in the agri-environmental support scheme. In 2010 these contracts covered altogether 23 000 hectares. During tha past 10 years the area covered by the special contracts has fluctuated without any clear trend.

Two thirds of the traditional rural biotopes covered by the special contracts are wooded habitats, either grazed woodlands or wooded pastures. Seashore, freshwater and other meadows with moist soil conditions take up most of the remaining area. Out of the areas evaluated as the most valuable traditional rural biotopes approximately half are being managed on farms receiving agri-environmental aid.

Before 1990 traditional rural biotopes were not managed systematically, but their maintenance took place as a side product of pasture farming. Pasture farming was tens of times more common in the beginning of the 20th century than at present.

Traditional rural biotopes are also being managed outside of active farms. State-owned lands administered by Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services include some 3 000 hectares of traditional rural biotopes. In 2010 nearly 2 700 hectares were managed or restored. Smaller areas are also managed on volunteer basis by societies and private individuals. According to a recent estimate (2009) the total area of traditional rural biotopes in Finland is 40 000 hectares out of which some 30 000 hectares are under regular management.

The economic unprofitability of management causes problems as to the execution and continuity maintenance of many small areas. The owners of many sites are not active farmers and thus eligible for agri-environmental aid. The most valuable traditional rural biotopes are also often located on small farms that have recently given up animal husbandry or are facing this decision soon.

Quality and extent of management

Traditional rural biotopes are some of the most diverse habitats in Finland. Relative to their area they host the greatest number of endangered species (see FA7 Traditional rural biotopes). Traditional rural biotopes do not remain open without active management. Most common management practices include grazing by cows or sheep and mowing.

The most important habitats for endangered species include dry and mesic meadows. The area of these habitats under management is currently small. The quality of management has proven poor in many sites. In several areas the management intensity has decreased and the overgrowth of habitats has increased. Only a few areas show contrary trends. Problems are caused by extra fodder given to grazing animals, neglect of clearance of trees and bushes as well as insufficient mowing.

The national working group on traditional rural biotopes concluded in 2001 that approximately 60 000 hectares of the most valuable areas should be managed by 2010 in order to avoid the further deterioration of grassland species assemblages. Although this goal will not be met by 2010 it can still be considered as a long-term target for management.

This indicator is updated annually.  

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