Voluntary forest protection by landowners is very important in southern Finland where the network of national parks and other nature reserves is not well developed. Voluntary forest protection is promoted by the State through the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO 2014 - 2025.
The METSO Programme 2008–2025 aims to halt the ongoing decline in the biodiversity of forest habitats and species, and establish stable favourable trends in Southern Finland’s forest ecosystems. It is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and different stakeholders.
METSO - The Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland
The METSO Programme has been designed to enhance biodiversity by supplementing and improving Finland's network of protected areas and by maintaining and developing nature management practices for commercially managed forests. Conservation schemes will largely be based on the voluntary participation of landowners willing to safeguard biodiversity in their own forests. The METSO Programme promotes also conservation networks between private forest owners and organisations. Restoration activities will be carried out on existing protected areas on State owned land.
The METSO Programme has different tools for forest owners: they can offer their forests either for permanent protection or for temporary agreements. In addition, active nature management supported by the programme is one way to increase biodiversity in managed stands. Forest owners and other stakeholders can also establish co-operative networks.
There are ten forested habitats being preserved under the METSO Programme. The sites are selected according to their ecological structure and their value for biodiversity. Regional forest and environmental authorities decide whether the subject is suitable for the programme. Compensation will be paid to landowners according to legislation in the Nature Conservation Act or the Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry.