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Commitment by Metsähallitus helps to preserve the most vulnerable sites of the Baltic Sea

Metsähallitus is a state enterprise that administers around one third of Finland’s land and water areas. One of the tasks of Metsähallitus is to be in charge of marine environment resource mapping and protection. To enhance its work on Baltic Sea protection, Metsähallitus has made a Baltic Sea Commitment. The Commitment highlights the importance of clean water, which is becoming an increasingly scarce resource.

Metsähallitus has collected a considerable amount of survey data on marine areas as a participant in the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment, VELMU, since 2004. In its Commitment, Metsähallitus develops the collected information into maps identifying the prime sites where potential pressure on marine biodiversity is at its highest. Maps will be published in 2017.In the second part of the Commitment, Metsähallitus focuses on inland activities in the catchment area. Metsähallitus will improve water quality and freshwater conservation by developing forestry practices and catchment area planning. Work will be carried out by organizing training for its personnel and contractors in the planning measures with an emphasis on reducing nutrient run-offs to inland waters.

“It is very impressive that we have one operator in Finland that manages waters from the headwaters of rivers all the way to the Baltic Sea, and I am very glad that this operator has now joined our extensive network for saving the Baltic Sea,” says Ilkka Herlin, Chairman of the Baltic Sea Action Group.

“Finnish people – citizens, the media and policy-makers – are not aware of the extent of the water areas that we are responsible for,” says Esa Härmälä, Director General of Metsähallitus.

“Finland has an acute problem in the case of the Baltic Sea. I therefore think that Metsähallitus must be in the forefront in such a nationally important project,” Härmälä says justifying the commitment. He also points out that a lot of conservation work has already been done in forests. “It is now time to take action for the sea.”

Information regarding the results and impacts of the Commitment on water protection will be monitored and published in 2017 as part of Finland’s centennial jubilee.

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