Most of Finland’s protected area surface is state-owned and managed by the government agency Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland (formerly Natural Heritage Services, NHS).
“The Principles of Protected Area Management in Finland – Guidelines on the aims, functions and management of state-owned protected areas” was approved for publication by Metsähallitus (then the Finnish Forest and Park Service) originally in 1992. These recommendations were updated several times. In 2007, the guidelines were revised completely and their coverage enhanced. In 2010, and further now in 2014, the structure and theme emphasis were somewhat altered and quite a few supplementations and specifications were added.
The document describes the role of protected areas in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, defines protected areas in Finland and explains the basis of their adaptive planning and management. It also covers the practices and principles of conservation and management of habitats, species and cultural heritage as well as those of securing sustainable protected area use.
The protected area management principles are partly determined directly by national legislation and partly by Parks & Wildlife Finland (P&WF) as the land owner and site manager. Many of the principles are also national and regional best practice that has been developed and agreed over time. This document is not intended to set out binding rules under the legislation or standards, but rather to provide a practical guide for the management of protected areas. In addition to guiding agency best practice, the document is one way to communicate the activities of P&WF to stakeholders.
The Principles of Protected Area Management in Finland pertain to the following protected area types governed and managed by Parks & Wildlife Finland:
- statutory nature reserves,
- wilderness reserves and
- sites designated in national Nature Conservation Programmes and in the EU Natura 2000 network that will be established as statutory nature reserves by proper site-specific enactments.
These principles may be used also to support the management of state-owned protected forests and national hiking areas, which are managed by P&WF. They do not directly concern the management of private protected areas, even though many of these are managed by P&WF.
The Principles of Protected Area Management are updated regularly at two to three year intervals.