Securing the Conservation of biodiversity across Administrative Levels ands spatial, temporal and Ecological Scales (SCALES)

About the project

Biodiversity and its effective management are inextricably related to scale. The main pressures on Europe’s terrestrial biodiversity (i.e. habitat loss and fragmentation, disturbance, and climate change) and the socio-economic drivers behind these pressures act differently at different scales. Effective conservation measures must thus explicitly consider a) scales at which effects occur and b) any interactions among the pressures that cause non-linearities among and within the different scales. Consequently, effective policy interventions may need to be scale-sensitive, employing appropriate governmental levels for planning, decision-making, and management. The SCALES project is designed to provide the integrated, natural and social scientific research needed to guide such action.


SCALES will advance and integrate our understanding of natural and anthropogenic processes and their effects upon biodiversity at different scales by applying recent methodological advances to new and existing data and by the development of new methods and approaches for innovative analyses of biodiversity processes and data across scales, of how these processes interact across scales and affect biodiversity, and of how this knowledge can be used to improve the scale-sensitivity and scale effectiveness of policy instruments for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. 

The project will merge and test the most promising approaches, methods, and policy instruments in EU-wide and regional case studies, focussing on UK, Finland, Poland, France, and Greece as focal regions to account for the ecological and societal variability and different histories of policies related to biodiversity conservation across Europe.

The general objectives are broken down into following seven workpackages:

Workpackage 1. Assess and model the socio-economic driving forces (e.g. EU policies, large scale economic and demographic trends, etc) and the resulting environmental pressures (e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation, changing climate) affecting European biodiversity under present and projected future conditions across scales.

Workpackage 2. Synthesize and improve the methodology for analyzing the scale-dependent impacts of these pressures on components of biodiversity ranging from genes to species' populations to biotic communities and ecosystems.

Workpackage 3. Develop and evaluate new methods for upscaling and downscaling to facilitate the provision of environmental, ecological, and socio-economic information at relevant and matching scales.

Workpackage 4. Assess the effectiveness and efficiency of policy instruments to respond to biodiversity loss, identify innovative policy instruments to address scale-related conservation problems, and improve multilevel biodiversity governance.

Presentation: Concepts for the analysis of scale-effective multilevel governance.pdf


Workpackage 5. Test and evaluate the practical suitability and matching of methods and policy instruments under applied constraints to deliver effective European biodiversity conservation across scales, using networks of protected areas, regional connectivity, and monitoring of status and trend as a common testing and assessment ground.

Workpackage 6. Translate the results into policy and management recommendations and integrate them in a web based support tool kit (SCALETOOL) to assist governmental and non-governmental organizations in ensuring sustainable conservation action across scales.

Workpackage 7. Disseminate the results to a wide range of relevant policy makers, public sector representatives, land users, NGOs, scientists, and the general public at international, national, and local level.


SCALES employs a variety of methods and models, adapted to the projects’ diverse components. It will apply recent methodological advances to new and existing data and development new methods and approaches for innovative analyses of biodiversity processes and data across scales, of how these processes interact across scales and affect biodiversity. It will assess and model the scaling properties of natural and anthropogenic processes and the resulting scale-dependencies of the impacts of these pressures on various levels of biodiversity from genes to ecosystem functions.

Research team (Finnish Environment Institute)

Jukka Similä (WP4 leader)

Mikko Kuussaari

Risto Heikkinen

Juha Pöyry

Riikka Paloniemi

Primmer Eeva

Jukka-Pekka Jäppinen

Petri Ahlroth

Niko Leikola

Tiina Muinonen

Riina Pelkonen

Examples of the research team's publications

Apostolopoulou, E., Paloniemi, R. (2012) Frames of Scale Challenges in Finnish and Greek Biodiversity Conservation. Ecology and Society, 17(4):9,

Borg, R., Paloniemi, R. (2012) Deliberation in cooperative networks for forest conservation. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 9 (3): 1-16, DOI: 10.1080/1943815X.2012.709869.

Heikkinen, R.K., Luoto, M., Virkkala, R., Pearson, R.G., and Körber J.H. (2007) Biotic interactions improve prediction of boreal bird distributions at macro-scales. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16: 754-763.

Heikkinen, R.K., Luoto, M., Kuussaari, M., Toivonen, T. (2007) Modelling the spatial distribution of a threatened butterfly: impacts of scale and statistical technique. Landscape and Urban Planning 79:347-357.

Kangas, P., Jäppinen, J-P, von Weissenberg, Marina (eds.) (2005) The Implementation of the National Action Plan for Biodiversity in Finland 2002-2004. Third Progress Report (Summary). Ministry of the Environment. 113 pp. Helsinki.

Koivulehto M. & Paloniemi R. (2012) Mittakaava ja luonnonsuojelu [Scale and nature conservation] (in Finnish, abstract in English), Terra, 124: 17–27.

Kuussaari, M., Heliölä, J., Luoto, M., Pöyry, J. (2007) Determinants of local species richness of diurnal Lepidoptera in boreal agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 122: 366-376.

Paloniemi R, Apostolopoulou E, Primmer E, Grodzinska-Jurcak M, Henle K, Ring I, Kettunen M, Tzanopoulos J, Potts S, van den Hove S, Marty P, McConville A, Simila J (2012) Biodiversity conservation across scales: lessons from a science–policy dialogue. Nature Conservation 2: 7-19. doi: 10.3897/natureconservation.2.3144

Primmer, E., and S. A. Wolf. 2009. Empirical accounting of adaptation to environmental change: Ecology and Society Empirical Accounting of Adaptation to Environmental Change in Finnish forest management. Ecology and Society 14(2): 27. 

Pöyry, J., Luoto, M., Paukkunen, J., Raatikainen, K., Pykälä, J., & Kuussaari, M. (2006) Different responses of plants and insects to a gradient of vegetation height: and indicator of the vertebrate grazing intensity and successional age. Oikos 115: 401-412.

Pöyry, J., Luoto, M., Heikkinen, R.K. & Saarinen, K. (2008) Species traits are associated with the quality of bioclimatic models. Global Ecology and Biogeography, doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238-2007.00373.x.

Selonen, V. O. A., Ahlroth, P. and Kotiaho, J.S. (2005) Anthropogenic disturbance and diversity of species: polypores and polypore associated beetles in forest, forest edge and clear-cut. Scandinavian Journal of Forest research. 20(Suppl 6):49-58.

Similä, J., Thum, R., Varjopuro, R., Ring, I. (2006) Protected species in conflict with fisheries: The interplay between European and national regulation. Journal of European Environmental & Planning Law. 3:432-445.

Similä, J. Regulation pollution – the case of Finland, Helsinki University. Forum Iuris. Helsinki 2007.

Varjopuro, R., Gray, T.S., Hatchard, J., Rauschmayer, F., Wittmer, H. (2008) Introduction: Interaction between environment and fisheries – the role of stakeholder participation. Marine Policy, in press. 

Wolf, S. A. and Primmer, E. (2006) Between incentives and action: A Pilot Study of Biodiversity Conservation Competencies for Multifunctional Forest Management in Finland. Society and Natural Resources. 19(9): 845-861.

Published 2013-05-02 at 17:40, updated 2018-11-21 at 9:51

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