The selection criteria for the METSO Forest Biodiversity Programme are being updated. With reduced funding, it is increasingly challenging to achieve the goals of the programme. For this reason, the selection criteria for the sites will become stricter, with more regional variation.
Funding for this successful programme will significantly decrease in the coming years, so stricter selection criteria will need to be applied. However, the budget for 2016–2017 is still at a good level, and new areas can be integrated into the programme as planned.
From 2008 to 2014, a total of 54,400 hectares of permanent conservation areas were established within the programme, and the environmental support agreements signed within the programme covered a total of 32,656 hectares. Among other parties, experts from Metsä Group have planned and negotiated permanent conservation sites as part of the services provided for owner-members.
Added clarity and efficiency for selection criteria
The results achieved through the METSO programme so far vary between regions and habitats. In some regions, the programme quota is nearing fulfilment in terms of hectares, but the most representative sites in these regions can still be approved for the programme.
The selection criteria for METSO, initially established in 2008, will be updated by the end of 2015. New habitats will not be included in the list. Instead, habitat-specific selection criteria will be streamlined, as the occurrence of endangered species and forest damage areas, for example, will be introduced as general selection criteria.
According to the working group updating the criteria, forests flooded by beavers may be included in the programme in the future, as may wetlands in conjunction with protected forest sites.
What is METSO?
The METSO programme, an action programme to maintain forest biodiversity in southern Finland, enables private forest owners to voluntarily protect the biodiversity of their forests and receive compensation for doing so.
The programme serves to protect, permanently or temporarily, forests with high natural diversity that are particularly valuable habitats and meet the selection criteria for the programme.
METSO is a joint project of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It is implemented by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), the Finnish Forest Centre and Metsähallitus in cooperation with other forest sector operators.