Protecting and restoring mires
The protection and restoration of mires strengthens the biodiversity of mire areas, helps to curb climate change and improves the status of our waters.
Mires are one of our most degraded habitat types, and many species that depend on them are on the decline. They are home to 120 endangered species, including the willow grouse and the ruff, plants such as the marsh helleborine and saxifrange, and butterflies such as Nola karelica and the woodland brown.
About half of all mire habitats in Finland are endangered. The main reason for the threatened status of mires is forest drainage: more than half of the mire areas in Finland have been drained for forest cultivation. In practice, drainage of new mire areas has already ceased, but mires are continuing to dry out.
In their natural state, mires bind and store significant amounts of carbon. Restoration of ditched mires restores their natural aquatic environment and vegetation, making them efficient carbon sinks. Restoration also reduces the flow of eutrophying nutrients from mires into waterways and mitigates flooding.
The Helmi programme aims to protect some 20,000 hectares of mire by the end of 2023. Protection is voluntary, and landowners receive compensation for it. The employees at the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment negotiate on the protection of land with the landowners. The negotiations will begin with sites of particular value for biodiversity that have already been identified.
The programme aims to restore 12,000 hectares of ditched mires located in protected areas by the end of 2023. At the same time, the programme will restore the ditched areas that surround protected areas, in cooperation with landowners, either by blocking the ditches or by returning the waters to unditched mires.
The ditched mires outside of protected areas are currently being assessed to identify the most valuable sites from the point of view of biodiversity. Once the assessment is complete, their restoration will be negotiated with the landowners.
Parks & Wildlife Finland, run by the state-owned forest enterprise Metsähallitus, is working to restore the mires located in and around protected areas. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment are launching water restoration projects in cooperation with the Finnish Forest Centre.