Helmi habitats programme aims to strengthen biodiversity

Helmi habitats programme, led by the Ministry of the Environment, aims to strengthen Finland’s biodiversity and safeguard the vital ecosystem services that nature provides for us. At the same time, the programme is working to curb climate change and promote adaptation to it.

Through the programme, Finland is taking effective action on behalf of biodiversity:

•    We are protecting and restoring mires.
•    We are restoring aquatic bird habitats, wetlands and coastal areas.
•    We are managing semi-natural grasslands.
•    We are restoring forest habitats, such as herb-rich forests and sun-exposed esker forests.
•    We are managing and restoring coastal and aquatic environments, such as sandy beaches.

More information about the works in each theme:

The Helmi programme is a key tool for halting biodiversity loss in Finland. The programme's actions will provide help to hundreds of endangered species and most of the endangered habitats in our country. The Helmi programme is based on voluntary action by landowners.

Helmi programme is successfully working towards its goals

The Government Resolution on the Helmi programme was adopted on 27 May 2021. Work under the Helmi programme started already in 2020 including action plans, surveys and inventories, as well as conservation, restoration and management of habitats. Management and restoration measures by the Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment started in protected areas. In the first year of the programme, the work began by recruiting more staff, inventorying the nature sites and planning the measures to be taken.

The total area of mires protected within the Helmi programme, between 2020-2022, is 17 000 ha. All conservation measures are on a voluntary basis. During the same time period 10 000 ha of degraded mire habitats have been restored.

Measures to restore aquatic bird habitats have started or finished in about 40 sites within the conservation network and 44 new wetlands or wetland restorations have been finished outside conservation areas. Restoration sites in forest habitats included forests inhabited by white-backed woodpecker, herb-rich forests and sun-exposed esker forests. Work has been done in about 500 nature sites in total.  Restoration of semi-natural grasslands under the Helmi programme has covered about 2000 hectares so far. With respect to small water bodies and shores, 40 springs, 67 km of small streams and 13 other coastal small water bodies has been restored.

The application rounds for special grants to municipalities and NGOs (‘Kunta-Helmi’) has been organised in 2020, 2021, 2022. Work by the municipalities and NGOs to promote biodiversity in habitats covered by the Helmi programme has now been supported by about EUR 10 million to 105 different projects.

One objective of Helmi programme is to target restoration and management actions to specific areas and sites (Helmi Clusters) to maximise their impact on biodiversity and promote holistic planning. The first seven Helmi Clusters were established in spring 2023. Aim is to establish altogether 30-50 Helmi Clusters across the country by the end of 2030.

Habitats programme Helmi 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 and municipal authorities and organisations. Actions are carried out both within and outside protected areas. The participation of landowners is voluntary.

The main objective of the Helmi programme is to take a comprehensive view of habitats and the necessary restoration and management measures in collaboration between numerous stakeholders. Restoration and management actions are targeted to specific areas and sites to maximise their impact on biodiversity.

13 regional Helmi groups have been established during the year 2023. The groups consists of organisations under administrative branches of both ministries, municipal authorities, landowners and regional NGOs.

The SOTKA project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is part of the Helmi programme. In this project, wetlands and a network of resting areas are built, mires and catchments are restored and small carnivores are captured.


Maaret Väänänen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of the Environment, Department of the Natural Environment, Nature Conservation and Management Telephone:0295250370   Email Address: