Metsähallitus manages more than three million hectares of waters. We use our expertise to improve the status of lakes and rivers and the Baltic Sea, to ensure that our waters provide both income and unforgettable recreational experiences.
As a result of many forms of human activity, some aquatic habitats are suffering from eutrophication and a loss of biodiversity. Metsähallitus improves the condition of inland waters through careful advance planning of forestry measures and by rehabilitating aquatic habitats. Through the Freshabit LIFE IP project, Metsähallitus is enhancing the biodiversity of the aquatic environment in collaboration with a range of partners.
Via the EU-funded Interreg WAMBAF project, Metsähallitus is engaged in water management in Baltic forests alongside several other Baltic Sea countries. The Vengasoja model area in Pudasjärvi in northern Finland, which was planned in 2016, will be ready for use in 2017. Tests and demonstrations will be completed there to explore how buffer zones, for example, can reduce the impacts on water bodies of various forestry measures, such as the maintenance of ditch networks or soil preparation after forest regeneration.
As part of the 2016 environmental objectives for water protection and Metsähallitus’ commitment to saving the Baltic Sea, Forestry Ltd arranged training for managerial staff in the design of catchment area level. The catchment area is a water source for several water bodies. Planning of forestry measures, while taking account of the entire catchment area, enables the best possible management of material loads due to human activities, thus reducing the adverse effects on the aquatic environment. In 2016, the loads imposed on water bodies by Metsähallitus’ activities were moderate, and they are following a downward trend.
Together with several other partners, Metsähallitus is involved in the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment, VELMU. The results of more than ten years of surveys and inventories are available in the publicly available VELMU Map Service launched in January 2016. During the summer, Metsähallitus’ marine biologists continued surveys of the Archipelago Sea, the Bothnian Sea and the Gulf of Finland.
In accordance with its commitment made to the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) Foundation, Metsähallitus will use the VELMU inventory data as a basis for maps of areas in active human use, where the natural marine environment is under the greatest potential pressure. Such map data will facilitate better planning of the sustainable use and protection of biodiversity in marine areas. The maps will be published in 2017 as part of Finland’s centennial jubilee.
As one of the most endangered seal species in the world, the Saimaa ringed seal is subject to special protection. In the early 2000s, there were only around 260 seals left in Lake Saimaa, but conservation efforts have succeeded in increasing the population to approximately 360 individuals. A large percentage of pups are born in areas managed by Metsähallitus.
Metsähallitus’ strategic objective, in managing fishing waters, is to strengthen and protect the natural native fish and crayfish population. The aim of all measures taken is to provide better breeding preconditions for fish species and populations in fishing waters, and to ensure fishing opportunities. In 2016, Metsähallitus promoted fish stock management and recreational fishing by launching projects that involve activities such as the removal of migration obstacles from fish passage routes and the development of model sustainable fishing sites.
Photo: Jari Ilmonen