FO19 Protected forests

  This is a response (R) indicator. DPSIR= drivers, pressures, state, impact, responses.Moderate positive impact on biodiversity between 1900 and 1990 (green background). Since 1990 the trend of the indicator has been moderately increasing (arrow).
>> Background information

Current situtation


Most of Finland's protected forests are located in the northern part of the country, which is mainly covered by north boreal forest vegetation zone. According to preliminary data, a quarter of all forest land is currently protected there, some areas more strictly than others. Largest in area are protected areas on state land as well as wilderness areas, which are also established on state land. Each of them covers almost 10% of all forest land. Elsewhere in Finland protected areas are more sparse. The share of protected areas in middle boreal forest vegetation zone is approximately 3% and in south and hemiboreal zone less than 2%. The share of protected areas on privately owned land increases towards south.

Strictly protected forests are areas where no forestry is practiced. According to current evaluation these areas cover 4.3% of all forest land in Finland. The proportion of strictly protected forests varies regionally, however. In north boreal forest vegetation zone the share of strictly protected forests is greatest, almost 10% of all forest land. In southern Finland the share of protected forests is small, varying between 1.8% and 0.8%.


Impact on biodiversity

Forest species become threatened primarily as a result of decreases in the amount and quality of habitats (see also FO13 and FO14). Establishment of protected areas aims above all in conserving the diversity of forests. Most often this comes true in pristine forests, where tree ages are variable and species composition corresponds to the age of the forest as well as soil type.

Diversity of large pristine forests is increased by natural disturbances such as fires, storms, activities of certain mammals as well as many diseases and pests. As a result of disturbance the structure of the forest changes. For example, falling trees create new gaps to the forest canopy and also increase the amount of dead wood, which is essential for several species (see also FO6). Various disturbances create a diverse mosaic of habitats and thus increase species richness.

In addition to the total amount of protected areas, the size of individual reserves and their connectivity to each other are important. The management of forestry land outside the protected areas also affects their ability to support high species richness. For example many species which nest solely in protected areas, may still be able to feed in and migrate through suitable commercial forests.

All protected forests are not entirely pristine forests. Especially in southern Finland new reserves have been established in commercial forests, which may not reach natural state for decades. The development can, however, be enhanced by restoration and management (FO20).

The frequency of updates of this indicator is unknown for the time being.

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