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Zonation projects and research

This page presents projects and research questions from Finland in which the Zonation programme has been used.

The list is not comprehensive, and it is updated every now and then.

See the links below each introduction for more information.

Projects in progress

Biodiversity offsets, ecological compensation and Zonation

The potential biodiversity effects of voluntary peatland conservation in Finland

The aim of this PhD research project is to compare whether voluntary conservation approaches protect the same amount of biodiversity representation with same costs as expert-driven, top-down controlled conservation approaches do. In this study Zonation is used as a tool which helps to compare conservation outcomes of different conservation solutions. This work continues from previous Zonation-based research concerning the expansion of Finnish peatland conservation network.

  • Download poster here (2,4 MB)
  • More information: Eini Nieminen, University of Jyväskylä firstname.lastname@jyu.fi, Santtu Kareksela, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland firstname.lastname@metsa.fi, Panu Halme, University of Jyväskylä firstname.lastname@jyu.fi and Janne Kotiaho, University of Jyväskylä firstname.lastname@jyu.fi

VERIZONA - verification of spatial conservation prioritization of Finnish forests in the Uusimaa region

The aim of this project is to examine whether the high conservation value forests in the so-called forest Zonation prioritizations (produced at the Finnish Environment Institute in 2018) are also important and valuable in reality. This is brought about by comparing field data from endangered forest species with spatial conservation prioritizations. As an addition, the spatial scale of usage of Zonation analysis maps is studied in order to recognize the best scale to predict the occurrence of endangered species, and differences between the occurrence predictions of different taxa is also studied.

  • More information: Juha Siitonen, Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE firstname.lastname@luke.fi, Reijo Penttilä, Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE firstname.lastname@luke.fi, Ninni Mikkonen, The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi, Niko Leikola The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Integrated conservation prioritizations of peatlands and forest areas in Finland

These analyses are produced for environmental administration to help halt the loss of biodiversity in Finland. This is one subproject in a chain of different nation-wide conservation prioritizations that have been prepared or planned in close co-operation with The Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO.

  • More information: Ninni Mikkonen, The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi and Santtu Kareksela, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland firstname.lastname@metsa.fi

Integrated prioritizations of forests' conservation values and carbon stocks and carbon sequestration


Ecological effectiveness of the marine protected area network in Finland

This research studies the current marine protection area network in Finland, covering the biologically most valuable areas and, secondly, the current marine protection areas protecting key species and habitats.

  • More information: Elina Virtanen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE & University of Helsinki firstname.a.lastname@ymparisto.fi, Markku Viitasalo, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi, Atte Moilanen Finnish Environment Institute SYKE & University of Helsinki firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi
  • Presentation: Evaluation of the Finnish marine protected area network using spatial prioritization Virtanen, E., Viitasalo, M., Lappalainen, J. and Moilanen, A. 18.9.2018. SmartSea Gulf of Bothnia in a change seminar
  • Virtanen, E. A., Viitasalo, M., Lappalainen, J. & Moilanen, A. 2018. Evaluation, Gap Analysis, and Potential Expansion of the Finnish Marine Protected Area Network. Frontiers in Marine Science 5: 1-19. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00402

Forests of high biodiversity value in Finland – the Final Report of forest biodiversity Zonation analyzes

Zonation analyses were employed to find new forest areas of potential high conservation value. The included data on forest structure and quality provided ecologically useful surrogates for conservation value in a boreal forest. The MOTTI programme was used for modelling indexes for decaying wood based on forest variables. Penalty was given for known management actions that are harmful to forest biodiversity. Connectivity was accounted for at 3 different levels, and information of red list forest species was taken into account. The results will be used to support local, regional and national level sustainable land using planning and nature conservation by informing land owners, ministries and different stake holders in forestry.

The results are open data since 11.5.2018. You can download them from the Finnish Environment institute webpages: Monimuotoisuudelle tärkeät metsäalueet 2018 (Zonation) alueellinen & paikallinen (metadata in Finnish only)

Prioritization for habitat restoration and management around the Finnish Natura 2000 network

Analysis to identify priority areas for the habitat restoration and management of Natura 2000 areas (N2k) and habitat types. The analysis accounted for the state of N2k habitats now, their expected state after restoration or management, the absolute improvement expected from restoration or management, the numbers of endangered species on N2k habitat types, and operational costs of actions. The analysis was replicated ranking entire N2k sites and as a continuous prioritization (raster) surface.

Ecological networks in the Uusimaa region based on Zonation-analysis

Zonation was used for recognizing ecological networks in the Uusimaa region. This work updates and expands former reports of the same subject. Firstly, the results show that ecological networks are connected with each other on the border areas of the Uusimaa region apart from the Sipoonkorpi area and its surroundings. Secondly, the results show that there are high-value nature areas that lie outside this ecological network. The analysis was repeated using Zonation's corridor-feature that gave the same result as the normal version. In addition to narrow ecological corridors, wide continuous areas as part of the ecological network were identified as well. Many of the ecological networks have already weakened. In some these cases restoration can be used for enhancing the quality of these areas and connections.


Systematic targeting of management actions as a tool to enhance conservation of traditional rural biotopes

A national GIS database on traditional rural biotopes (TRBs) was analyzed in order to examine how the current TRB network can be complemented in terms of conservation value based on known ecological characteristics. TRBs are heterogeneous management-dependent grasslands and wood-pastures maintained through long-term grazing and mowing, and they are valuable for biodiversity and cultural heritage. Given different target scenarios for the amount of managed TRBs, the results demonstrate where management actions should be directed to both on protected and unprotected areas.

Development of the South-West Lapland conservation area network (NATNET LIFE+ project)

This spatial prioritization was produced to assist in targeting land acquisition within a project for the expansion of the South-West Lapland conservation area network. The analysis utilized forest inventory data, information about woodland key habitats, species distribution data for several threatened species, and information about the present conservation area network. Three main analyses were done: 1) the ecologically most efficient solution across the area, 2) an analysis for expansion on privately owned land only, and 3) a corridor analysis. Results from these analyses were combined to support decision-making. The highest priority was given to land parcels belonging to the top 2% in all three analyses. The ecologically most efficient solution enabled a rise from 70% to 90% conservation efficiency with only minor additions to the conservation area network. A separate analysis was done for identification of areas for targeted habitat restoration.

Biodiversity conservation of semi-natural grasslands profits from a multi-objective and broader scale spatial optimization approach

Recent actions to mitigate biodiversity loss in agricultural environments appear insufficient despite the considerable efforts channeled via the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). One likely reason for this failure is the limited attention paid to the regional and landscape level ecological characteristics in farmland conservation planning. We demonstrate how to obtain conservation prioritization solutions that would simultaneously address three goals, including two landscape level targets: minimizing local habitat quality loss, maximizing habitat connectivity, and incorporating landscape heterogeneity.

Knowledge, communication and targeting of biodiversity conservation

Voluntary biodiversity conservation actions in Finland are currently implemented at the individual parcel scale, which restricts forming ecologically optimal conservation area networks. Our conservation prioritization analyses are aimed at demonstrating whether biodiversity can be preserved more effectively if considered at a larger spatial scale together with ecological and social data. We aimed at identifying those areas that are both ecologically valuable and are owned by landowners with a positive attitude towards conservation. This approach ensures that conservation funds are allocated in the most effective way in the implementation of conservation. Regional authorities and forest professionals save time when positive landowners are identified in advance.


Spatial Prioritization of Urban Biodiversity in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Spatial prioritization of the urban biodiversity in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The aim of the thesis was to identify the most important areas for the functioning of ecosystems (and, thus, indirectly for ecosystem services provisioning) in the urban Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Urban biodiversity was taken to mean a more holistic representation of the urban ecosystem than a set of observed species only. Hence, the work was based on an expert elicitation in which different urban biotopes were evaluated in terms of how well they supported species richness and the occurrence of specialist species of several taxonomic groups. In addition, the effects of the new Helsinki Strategic Plan 2050 proposal on the priorities in the entire Helsinki Metropolitan Area were examined.


Green frame analysis in the Uusimaa region

Zonation was utilized to create information about nature values in the Uusimaa Region for different land use planning needs such as the next regional master plan. Data used included spatial information about habitats and species. For the analyses this information was weighed based on expert assessments, and connectivity between habitats and the effect of the present land use were employed. The results showed that the current nature conservation network contains a significant portion of high-value nature areas. Secondly important areas were identified as well. The importance of conservation and recreational area network was assessed with valid master plans of the Uusimaa region to see how well they serve in the preservation of nature values. Separate east and west Uusimaa area analyses were employed. The possible effects of population centre expansion was studied. All the results were compared with regionally valuable areas that have been recognized in former nature reporting.


Identification of top priority areas and management landscapes from a national Natura 2000 network

Spatial conservation prioritization was made for the Finnish Natura 2000 network. This analysis facilitates well-informed conservation resource allocation. Habitat maintenance is most relevant in the neighbourhood of high-priority areas. Several high-priority areas were found outside strictly protected areas. Results of these analysis were used by Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland.


Decision support for a 10 000 ha expansion of the national forest conservation area network

The Finnish government decided in 2008 that the forest conservation area network of South-Central Finland should be expanded by 10 000 hectares on state-owned land. The locations of ideal expansion areas were identified in a joint project between the Natural Heritage Services of Parks Finland and the University of Helsinki. The analysis was implemented using Zonation, and it used data about forest density, forest age structure, tree species composition, and the amount of dead wood etc. Herb-rich forests and deciduous forests were given elevated preference in the analysis because these habitats have strongly declined in Southern Finland. The connectivity of the protected area network was also accounted for in the analysis. This was a groundbreaking piece of work because never before had quantitative spatial prioritization been used in Finland.

Using spatial data to support planning for forest biodiversity in South Savo

In 2009 the Finnish Forest Center was interested about regional planning for ecology, conservation and environmental management, accounting for the fact that these actions are voluntary from the part of forest owners who also incur costs. Ecological decision analysis and the Zonation software were seen as tools suitable for this task, and prioritizations were implemented jointly with the University of Helsinki. The overall aim was to gain insight into the implementation of METSO voluntary conservation in South Savo on private land. The South Savo Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) also participated in the effort and utilized the analyses.

Published 2018-06-08 at 22:34, updated 2020-10-12 at 15:11
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