Protection of species and habitats

Protection of species – aimed at the protection of populations and distribution of species

Protection of plant and animal species is a key means of safeguarding biodiversity. The objective of the protection of species is to conserve viable populations of native and established species within their natural ranges.

Around 48,000 species live in Finland. Enough is known about over 22,000 of these to permit the evaluation of their threat status. One in nine of all evaluated species in Finland is endangered. Finland is the only country that evaluates the threat status of species on such a broad scale.

A species may be protected by legislation, or declared a threatened species, or placed under a strict protection order by decree.

Protection of species is regulated under the Nature Conservation Act.

  • Nature Conservation Act (1096/1996, Finlex)

The European Union's provisions on the protection of species require that species and their habitats are protected and that their hunting and other exploitation are regulated. Deterioration of the breeding sites and resting places of the most strictly protected species is prohibited.

The Finnish Environment Institute collects and evaluates data on changes in species, together with the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the state forest administration Metsähallitus, universities and other research institutions and environmental organisations.

The environmental administration is preparing a national action plan for species protection.

Protection of natural habitats promotes ecological diversity

Natural habitats include land and water areas characterised by certain environmental conditions, and by the plant and animal species typical of such areas. Habitat types are protected in order to safeguard ecological diversity and the habitats of different species.

Habitats are protected by legislation and international agreements, in national park, strictly controlled nature reserves and other conservation areas.

Natural habitats referred to in the Nature Conservation Act

In Finland, nine habitat types are protected under the Nature Conservation Act.

It is prohibited to alter the habitat types mentioned in the act in such a way as to jeopardise the preservation of the features characteristic of the area in question. Such a prohibition takes effect as of when the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment has set the boundaries of the natural habitat in question and has notified the site’s owners and holders of its decision. Parties affected by the decision will be heard before the boundaries are set, unless such hearing jeopardises the conservation objectives. Appeals may be made against the boundaries set by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

Natural habitats referred to in the Habitats Directive

Annex II of the EU's Habitats Directive Council Directive lists 69 valuable habitat types found in Finland, 22 of which are priority types. Natura 2000 nature reserves have been established to protect these habitats.

Natural habitats referred to in the Forest Act and the Water Act

The Forest Act covers seven particularly important habitats, while the Water Act covers four small water body types. Actions jeopardising the special characteristics of these areas are prohibited.

Other means of protecting natural habitats

In addition to setting up nature conservation areas, natural habitats may be protected through sustainable use of natural resources and by taking such habitats into account when planning land use. If natural habitats have been altered, their condition may be improved by means of nature management and restoration.The Ministry of the Environment has drawn up an action plan for improving the condition of endangered habitats.

  • Toimintasuunnitelma uhanalaisten luontotyyppien tilan parantamiseksi (SY 15/2011) (Publication Archive Helda)

Campaign for preserving natural habitats in municipalities

The campaign for preserving natural habitats in municipalities involved the selection of natural habitats at municipal level; the selected habitats are either particularly important and valuable to the region in question, or are endangered.

Further information

Esko Hyvärinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Department of the Natural Environment, Biodiversity Telephone:0295250094   Email Address: