The Finnish government announced today that a new nature conservation law will be implemented on June 1st. The updated legislation aims to strengthen the protection of various natural habitats, promote voluntary ecological compensation, and emphasize the precautionary principle. The Nature Conservation Law is considered one of the most important tools for safeguarding Finland's biodiversity.

The main objective of the law is to ensure the preservation of biodiversity, protect natural beauty and landscape values, promote adaptation to climate change, support the sustainable use of natural resources and the environment, enhance public awareness and knowledge of nature, and advance scientific research in the field.

According to the precautionary principle, decision-making under the law must consider the significant threat of biodiversity loss, even in the absence of scientific certainty regarding negative environmental impacts.

Enhanced Protection for Habitat Types

The new law includes provisions for the protection of certain habitat types. The number of protected habitat types will increase, and in the future, decisions by the Finnish Environment Institute may extend protection to features such as forested slopes on ridges (harjumetsien valorinteet) and marine sediments (meriajokaspohjat).

Furthermore, the law introduces a new form of habitat protection by explicitly safeguarding rare serpentinite rocks and open coastal dunes. These strictly protected habitat types are already endangered, scarce in Finland, small in size, and have been negatively impacted by human activities. The disappearance of even one occurrence of these habitats could compromise their overall conservation status.

Restrictions on Ore Prospecting in National Parks and Nature Reserves

Under the new law, ore prospecting will be completely prohibited in national parks and nature reserves, while the conditions for such activities in other state-owned conservation areas will be significantly tightened.

Expanded Participation in Biodiversity Conservation Efforts

The law strengthens the knowledge base for biodiversity and enhances planning systems for nature conservation. It also provides opportunities to promote environmental awareness and education among citizens by reinforcing the interactive nature of official tasks and decision-making processes.

A new provision in the law allows for financial assistance to be provided for the management and restoration of biodiversity. This involves monetary support from the state for voluntary efforts in the maintenance and restoration of species' habitats.

Additionally, the law establishes a national biodiversity strategy and action plan. The strategy guides policies for nature protection, restoration, and management, aiming to reduce pressures on biodiversity. It sets nationwide goals for halting the loss of species and improving the overall state of nature. The action plan identifies necessary measures and assigns responsible parties for their implementation and impact assessment. The Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with key stakeholders, will develop the strategy, which will then be approved by the Council of State.

Voluntary Ecological Compensation as a New Tool

The new law also introduces voluntary ecological compensation as a means to offset the impact of human activities on biodiversity. Through ecological compensation, the harm caused to biodiversity in one location can be compensated by improving biodiversity in another. For example, the loss of a meadow due to construction activities can be compensated by enhancing the condition of a degraded meadow elsewhere. This approach ensures that overall nature values do not diminish. Landowners who wish to contribute to the creation of nature values can seek official verification for their efforts. The produced nature values can then be sold to companies that aim to compensate for their negative impacts on nature, thus demonstrating their commitment to responsible practices.

The implementation of the new nature conservation law is a significant step forward in protecting Finland's diverse ecosystems and securing the well-being of both present and future generations. The legislation emphasizes the importance of preserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable land use, and fostering public participation in environmental conservation. It sets a precedent for other countries to prioritize nature protection and adopt innovative approaches to ecological compensation.