A significant share of the species living in Finland are directly or indirectly dependent on forests. Approximately 36 per cent of all threatened species live in mineral soil forests. However, assessments have shown that overall, only around 10 percent of the mineral soil species are threatened, which means that Finnish forests still contain most of the species naturally occurring in them. Besides mineral forest soils, a few percent of all threatened species live in forested peatlands.
The use of forests over time has influenced different types of forest habitats, e.g., by altering the amount of dead, old-grown or deciduous trees. The changes are often a result of historical developments, which reflect the uses of wood and the changing needs of the society. Since the 1990s, protection of the biodiversity has been in the focus and the actions taken since then have successfully led to several species being no longer classified as endangered. Nevertheless, the decline in biodiversity has not yet been halted, which is why new actions are still needed.
Several actions support the protection and enhancement of biological diversity in Finnish forests
Maintenance and enhancement of biological diversity of forests are an integral element of the Finnish forest policy, legislation and practices. In Finland, certification systems (PEFC, FSC) developed in participatory processes, which are independent of any public authorities, are widely used on a voluntary basis to ensure the sustainability of forest management.
To protect the biodiversity of Finnish forests, both protected areas and natural management of forests are needed. Actions promoting the diversity of forests are defined in several strategies and programmes, including the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO) 2014-2025, the National Forest Strategy 2025, the National Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2020 and its complementary Action Plan for 2013-2020. In addition, new actions are included in the plans of new Helmi habitats programme, and the ownership policy decision concerning Metsähallitus (state forests), approved in spring 2020.
A network of protected areas form the backbone of forest biodiversity conservation. Protected areas are supplemented by voluntary forest protection and biodiversity conservation in commercial forests. Majority of national parks and strict nature reserves are located in Northern Finland. Consequently, voluntary forest protection is very important and promoted by the State particularly in Southern parts of the country (e.g., in METSO Programme).