The edge of a small logging area in the south-eastern corner of Evo Hiking Area in Southern Finland on 20 March 2021. (Handout / Jani Sipilä – Greenpeace)

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PROTECTING 30 per cent of land and sea areas will not be enough to stop, let alone reverse, the loss of biodiversity, argues Jukka Hoffren, an expert at Statistics Finland.

“Saving biodiversity and halting the ongoing human-induced wave of extinctions requires that attention is paid also to excessive hunting and fishing, pollution, climate change and invasive species, among other things,” he wrote on the blog platform of Statistics Finland in January.

“Expanding protected areas alone would fall well short of what is required to stop and reverse biodiversity loss.”

Hoffren is responsible for compiling data on sustainable development goals in Finland.

The so-called 30-by-30 target has garnered media attention in the run-up to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) held in Kunming, China, in April. The conference has been drummed up as one of the most important international meetings on environmental issues.

While the European Union has already committed to protecting at least 30 per cent of its land and seas, the target is more ambitious than the previous goal of protecting 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of seas by 2020 – a target that most countries failed to meet, highlighted Hoffren.

Hoffren pointed out that researchers have estimated that, in addition to the proposed 30 per cent, another 20 per cent of land areas should be protected to stabilise the climate and combat climate change by 2030.

“Overall, 50 per cent of the Earth’s land area should be left in natural state,” he wrote.

Biodiversity loss, he underscored, is occurring at an unprecedented rate – with species becoming extinct on average 100–1,000 faster than in the past millions of years – and poses a major challenge also for Finland.

“Finns have over decades caused irreversible damage to nature and natural diversity with their own thoughtless and indifferent actions,” he stated, pointing to large-scale ditching of wetlands and short felling cycle of forests.

Forests presently make up 86.1 per cent of the land area of Finland. Only 13 per cent of it, though, has been protected, along with 12 per cent of coastal and sea areas and 83 per cent of important bird and biodiversity sites.

“Forests, for example, function as the lungs of the world, whereas pollinators and soil microbes are necessary for food production. Humankind has no choice but to succeed in stopping biodiversity loss,” wrote Hoffren.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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