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New estimate - every ninth species in Finland is threatened

Press release 2019-03-08 at 9:00

Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) report

Common pochards
The common pochard (Aythya ferina), which inhabits eutrophic lakes and marshes, has been classified as critically endangered (CR) due to a massive decrease in its population. The decline in population is most likely due to competition with fish for food resources, predation by small carnivores and the disappearance of the black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus) from many bird waters, as the common pochard nests most successfully in black-headed gull colonies. The species is also threatened by hunting. Photo Juha Laaksonen.

A new assessment of threatened species indicates an increasing loss of biodiversity in Finnish nature. Of the 22 000 species evaluated, 11.9% were classified as threatened, compared to 10.5% in the previous assessment. All species groups include threatened species, and the highest proportion can be found among birds and bryophytes (mosses). The primary cause of threat is the decline and deterioration of natural habitat. Much can be done to stop this development, but urgent action is needed.

Largest proportion of threatened species among birds and bryophytes

Approximately one third of Finnish bird and bryophyte species are under threat. The proportion of threatened species is also large among lichens, vascular plants, butterflies and moths, and hymenopterans. The situation has deteriorated in all of these groups since the previous evaluation. Almost one third of vertebrate animals are endangered. Critically endangered species include, for example, the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), Landlocked salmon (Salmon salar m. sebago) and Ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana), among twenty other species.

Approximately 10% of Finnish insect species are threatened. For some insects, the situation has improved, as many of the southern species have benefited from climate warming. On the other hand, over 200 butterfly and moth species are even more endangered than before, even if the situation has improved for 152 species.

Species becoming more threatened in all habitats

Species are becoming threatened the fastest in fell areas, mires, aquatic habitats and rock outcrops. Only some improvements have occurred among species living in such areas. The threatened species in fell areas include particularly butterflies, moths and vascular plants suffering from, for example, the effects of climate change.

Clouded Apollo
Parnassius mnemosyne is a Vulnerable butterfly living in herb-rich grasslands and wooded pastures. The species has three natural areas of occupancy. Through successful reintroduction, the species has additionally been restored to a fourth area, where it was observed last in the early 20th century. The species is dependent on grazing and is threatened by the overgrowing of open areas. Photo Mikko Kuussaari.

The majority of threatened species live in forests and rural biotopes, as well as other environments established as a result of human activity. Part of the species in such habitats have become threatened, but at the same time, the situation has improved for other species. As a whole, species in such habitats are declining at a slower pace than in fell areas and mires. The forests and rural biotopes are home to the largest number of species, which partly explains the large number of threatened species.

The biggest threat is the decline and degradation of habitat

Changes in the forest environment are the most significant cause of threat to species, as is the case with 733 threatened species. These changes include forest management activities, as well as the reduction of old-growth forests and large trees, as well as decreasing amounts of dead and decaying wood.

The second most common threat to species is the overgrowing of open habitats, which is the primary cause of threat to 639 species. Climate change poses a threat to, in particular, species in fell areas.

Concrete actions to improve the situation for species

Much can be done to stop the decline of species. In the Red List of Finnish Species, both broad and targeted measures are presented to improve the living conditions of species. Conservation areas alone cannot ensure the protection of species. Instead, biodiversity must be taken into account in all use of natural resources and areas.

Campanula uniflora
Campanula uniflora grows on shady calcareous rock outcrops of fells. The plant species is very rare and scarce here, and it is classified as Critically Endangered. The species is particularly sensitive to the effects of global warming. Photo Kimmo Syrjänen

Active conservation, restoration and management measures should be significantly increased, in particular, to protect species in mires and bird wetlands. In addition, more information about the occurrence of species and observations on their way of life are also required. Also the availability and usability of information should be improved.

The fifth assessment of threatened species in Finland

The assessment of threatened species in Finland was carried out for the fifth time. The work was coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), and it involved 180 experts from universities, museums of natural history, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Metsähallitus and the Finnish Mammalogical Society. In addition, expert enthusiasts and retired natural scientists gave their valuable contribution to the assessment. A steering group appointed by the Ministry of the Environment guided the work and approved the assessments.

 

Species Press Releases

 

Further information

Senior Ministerial Adviser Esko Hyvärinen, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 400 143 876, firstname.o.lastname@ym.fi
Senior Researcher Ulla-Maija Liukko, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), tel. +358 295 251 387, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi
Unit Director Aino Juslén, Finnish Museum of Natural History, tel. +358 50 310 9703, firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi
Biodiversity & Communication Expert Riku Lumiaro, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), tel. +358 40 509 8654, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

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Press photos located on the Finnish language Press release
 

Freshwater pearl mussel
xThe future of Margaritifera margaritifera, which can live to be a hundred years old, seems gloomy. Although the species is still found in many rivers, young individuals may be completely missing. The species is classified as Endangered. Photo Panu Oulasvirta.

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