New Nature Conservation Act introduces various means of protecting biodiversity
Passed by Parliament today, the Nature Conservation Act is more diversely effective than the current act and introduces new means of protecting biodiversity. The forest industry finds it important to monitor the effectiveness and impact of the new act.
The new Nature Conservation Act is clearer than the previous act in terms of structure as well as references to other legislation, among other things. It also clarifies the roles of officials and other operators. In addition, the act includes a chapter on the management of data on nature conservation, which is relevant as the amount of and the use of nature information continue to increase. There was definite need for updating the Nature Conservation Act as it was nearly 25 years old.
The effectiveness of the Nature Conservation Act will increase as the list of protected biotopes is expanded. The new forest biotopes added to the list include flood plain forests and sunny slopes in esker forests. The forest industry considers the expansion of the list of protected biotopes justified.
- The procedure in line with the Nature Conservation Act where officials target protection measures at the most typical sites and the land owner is compensated is an unambiguous and fair way of protecting endangered biotopes, says Tiina Vuoristo, Sustainability Manager at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Forest industry operators believe the two biotopes, serpentine rockfaces and open coastal dunes, included in the new automatic protection measures in line with the Nature Conservation Act, should have also been protected with the targeting procedure for reasons of clarity.
Expanding the methods of the Nature Conservation Act
The assisted migration of a protected species was added to the Nature Conservation Act as a completely new procedure. In the future, it will also be possible to obtain financial support for the purposes of maintaining biodiversity based on the Nature Conservation Act. The legislation also creates a statutory framework for voluntary programmes METSO and Helmi, which seek to comprehensively improve biodiversity.
- The Finnish Forest Industries Federation views the coupling of the traditional, preserving nature conservation with active biodiversity safeguarding measures as excellent development, states Vuoristo.
The new Nature Conservation Act also includes provisions on voluntary ecological compensation. The forest industry finds it important to ensure the additionality, locality and real ecological benefits when implementing ecological compensation. Ecological compensation is in need of piloting, the extensive assessment of overall impact and other measures, after which clear ground rules must be established for the concept.
In search of unambiguous, foreseeable legislation
During parliamentary proceedings, sections concerning the acknowledgement of endangered biotopes were excluded from the Nature Conservation Act and the precautionary principle was made clearer. The changes proposed to the Water Act were also waived. The changes are justified as any ambiguous provisions would have impaired the predictability of the legislation upon implementation.
Instead, a new section concerning the acknowledgement of endangered species in proceedings under other legislation was retained. The forest industry finds it important to monitor the effectiveness of the provision and, if necessary, address any regional differences in the application of the provision.
The updated Nature Conservation Act is one of the may ways of protecting biodiversity in Finland. The Nature Conservation Act will not solve all the problems; biodiversity is protected through a large number of cost-effective, sensibly targeted measures.
- The voluntary METSO programme is a great example of impactful, widely approved nature conservation. Nature management in commercial forests also plays a key role in promoting forest biodiversity, says Vuoristo.