Finland´s Protected Areas. A Technical Assessment
The publication concerns an assessment by two foreign experts, Harold K. Eidsvik (Canada) and Hans B. Bibelriether (Germany) on the state of Finland’s protected areas, together with a Finnish translation of the summary. The assessment is based on written material sent to the assessors and on visits, mainly to national parks, on 20.6. – 2.7.1994. The aim of the assessment was to obtain the experts’ opinions on the management of Finland’s protected areas. An evaluation of the representativeness of Finland’s protected area network would have called for more extensive preparation and far more field work.
Finland’s protected areas as a whole were ranked as “Good”. Protected area staff are motivated but there is understaffing. The legislation and declared nature conservation objectives provide a sound basis for managing the areas, but attaining the goals does not always succeed in practice. The two experts are particularly disturbed by use causing changes to ecosystems in northern protected areas, while at the same time noting that the problem of the rights of indigenous peoples is difficult to resolve even in the protected areas of other northern countries. Whether reindeer herding in its present form takes place on an ecologically sustainable basis is a matter requiring study. No form of mining, including mechanical gold mining, is suitable for national parks.
The experts stress that as regards the areas they cover, many of our national parks do not form ecologically sustainable entities and that there is lack of systematism from the protection perspective in facilities for the public, particularly respecting the location of visitor centeres. They recommend that, in place of substantial investments in construction, a study be made of alternative ways of achieving the same result with a smaller financial input by distributing information on nature conservation.
The assessors feel that the division of labour between the Finnish Forest and Park Service and the Finnish Forest Research Institute, which manage the protected areas, is irrational and propose that the Forest and Park Service manage all the national parks, whitle the Forest Research Institute would concentrate on managing areas, like strict nature reserves, established for research purposes.