The Helmi programme defines concrete goals and actions for enhancing habitats
On May 27th 2021 the Government adopted a resolution on the Helmi habitats programme that extends until 2030. The programme includes 40 actions for accelerating the restoration, management and protection of different habitats. The Helmi programme is a significant package of measures for halting biodiversity loss in Finland.
“The expected Helmi programme defines guidelines for the work to be done in the 2020s for enhancing the state of biodiversity. In Finland, one in nine species and up to one in two habitats are endangered. Nature loss can be stopped by means of extensive cooperation and correctly targeted measures,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.
“Through the Helmi programme, we work together to promote biodiversity, involving the entire environmental administration and the administrative branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The programme is a good example of how we can help nature in many different ways, and the best results can be achieved through voluntary action,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä.
The Helmi programme addresses the main direct cause of nature loss in Finland: the decrease and degradation of habitats. Degradation means a change in the habitat in a poor direction for species due to reasons such as eutrophication, invasive species, increased wear and tear and the impacts of climate change. The Helmi programme protects and restores mires, and restores and manages traditional biotopes, forests, small bodies of water, shores, and bird waters and bird wetlands. Restoration restores habitats to their natural state.
Well-targeted restoration and renovation actions that safeguard and restore biodiversity also support the adaptation of species and habitats to climate change. The preservation of unspoiled and functioning ecosystems provides ecosystem services essential for well-being, such as carbon sequestration, flood protection and pollination, also when the climate changes.
The programme is implemented in extensive cooperation
The Helmi programme is a joint programme of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, implemented together by the administrative branches of both ministries, municipal authorities and organisations. Actions will be carried out both inside and outside protected areas. The programme actions are based on voluntary participation of landowners.
The main objective of the Helmi programme is to examine habitats and the restoration and management measures needed by them as extensive entities and in collaboration between several actors. Restoration and management actions will be centralised to maximise their impact on biodiversity.
The Helmi programme is widely supported by stakeholders. The preparation of the programme involved dozens of experts on various habitats, organisations and other stakeholders. When the programme was circulated for statements, all the commentators supported the Helmi programme, and many expressed their will to participate in its implementation. The commentators had recognised a lot of needs for management and restoration measures in valuable nature areas that they had been unable to address to a sufficient extent in the past due to the lack of resources.
The Government resolution on the Helmi programme includes a decision on the continuation of the METSO programme for the period 2026–2030. The METSO programme will continue with ambitious objectives to be specified before the end of the current METSO programme period. Between 2021 and 2025, the Helmi programme will complement the METSO programme with actions to enhance forest biodiversity.
Extracts from programme actions:
- The Helmi programme will speed up the voluntary protection of nationally valuable mires. The aim is to protect 60,000 hectares.
- A total of 59,300 hectares of mires will be restored, in addition to which high water table levels will be returned in protected mires at 400 sites.
- 200 valuable bird waters will be restored, and 500 bird wetlands will be restored or established outside the protected area network.
- The area of managed traditional rural biotopes will be increased to 52,000 hectares.
- The METSO programme goals will be complemented by the restoration of protected areas and state-owned multiple-use forests, and nature management. Burning restoration will be carried out on 750 hectares in protected areas and on 2200 hectares in state-owned multiple-use forests.
- A total of 600 km of streams will be restored, and fish migration routes will be restored on 700 small body of water sites.
Päivi Gummerus-Rautiainen, Senior Environmental Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 240, [email protected]
Antti Heikkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment Mikkonen, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 348 1406, [email protected]
Katja Matveinen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 287, [email protected]
Annukka Kimmo, Special Adviser to Minister Leppä, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 50 478 0226, [email protected]