UPM, Finland's Ministry of the Environment agree on purchase of nature conservation areas and establishment of private conservation areas in Central Finland

HELSINKI , May 11, 2012 () – UPM, the Ministry of the Environment and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland have agreed on a very significant purchase of nature conservation areas and on the establishment of private conservation areas in Central Finland. The areas are located in Kyyjärvi, Karstula, Pihtipudas and Kinnula. According to the agreement, the state will purchase a total of 795 hectares from UPM for nature protection purposes. In addition, based on a decision by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, private conservation areas, totalling 323 hectares, will be established on UPM’s land.

The protected areas are mainly parts of the Natura 2000 network. Of the total protected area, 485 hectares are included in the Boreal Peatland LIFE project, supported by the EU's LIFE Programme.

Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö is pleased about the agreement reached. “We have now taken one step forwards in peatland nature conservation. These areas are a very welcome addition to the network of protected peatlands still in their natural state. In addition to having a lot of natural values, peatlands have a central role in our own cultural heritage.”

”We are happy with the agreement on establishing peatland conservation areas in Central Finland", says Jorma Saarimaa, UPM's Director of Land Use and Real Estate. "Prior to this, we entered into similar agreements as regards Natura areas owned by UPM in Kainuu and South Karelia. These agreements enable the biodiversity of Finnish nature to be maintained in accordance with the principles of the programme."

“Protecting the areas is important for the conservation of endangered natural peatlands and declining populations of wetland birds. In its natural state, peatland also provides different ecosystem services: these areas mitigate climate change by serving as carbon sinks, play a key role in flood control and have recreational values”, explains Päivi Halinen, Conservation Manager at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland.

The most important protected area is the Peuralamminneva mire in Kyyjärvi, with an area of 481 hectares. Peuralamminneva is a vast aapa mire complex that has been preserved in its natural state. Its value is high because of the diverse flora in the mire complex; however, some of the flora is endangered. Further conservation targets include the Hirvilammensuo bog, which forms part of a large mire complex. It is an open, rather barren mire with patchy stunted pine tree growth. The Leppäsuo and Laihistenneva mires, located in Karstula, have been preserved mainly in their natural state. A diverse avifauna nests in these mires.

The conservation areas in Pihtipudas and Kinnula belong to the Seläntaus mire complex and the Suojärviensuo–Niittosuo Natura 2000 network. The Seläntaus aapa mire complex is one of the largest in central Finland, and the current protected area is a part of the Väljänneva mire that belongs to this complex. Väljänneva consists of both wet open areas with puddles and more barren areas, and many endangered species grow here.

In some of these areas, funding from the Boreal Peatland LIFE project supports restoration of sections altered by drainage. The project is a joint effort between Metsähallitus, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland and the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at Jyväskylä University. The project objective is to restore over 4200 hectares of peatland to their natural state between 2010 and 2014.



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