The lady’s slipper orchid Cypripedium calceolus and the yellow marsh saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus are species of particular importance included in Appendix IV of the EU’s Habitat Directive. Both species have declined in recent decades and even disappeared completely in several European countries. Finland has been allocated special international responsibility for the conservation of the Saxifraga, as a large proportion of the plant's European population grows there. Major threats to the species and their habitats in Finland include unawareness of the existence of these species and their ecological requirements, forestry, drainage and clearing of forests for arable land. Several of the colonies, even in the Natura 2000 areas, are located at sites that have undergone changes, due for example to drainage, and thus require active restoration or management measures.
The purpose of the project is to survey the Cypripedium and Saxifraga growing sites and to restore, manage and monitor these sites in order to determine and safeguard a favourable level of protection for the species in Northern Finland (regions of Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and Southern and Central Lapland). The project supports Finland’s Natura 2000 programme and the aims of sustainable forestry and forest certification, and helps to improve landowners’ attitudes towards conservation as well as cooperation and interaction between the various authorities and the landowners. The project focuses to a major extent on the conservation of prioritised biotopes (aapa mires, mires with trees, boreal natural forests), and its accomplishment will ensure that the natural values associated with Finland’s regional Natura 2000 network will be preserved.