Valuable traditional environments are threatened because the support paid for grazing will drop due to the new interpretation of the agreement. Metsähallitus Nature Services fears that even Finland’s most valuable archipelago landscapes are in danger.
Even the most valuable traditional environments in all of Finland and their endangered species are threatened due to the end of grazing.
The danger is real, because the new interpretation of environmental agreements significantly cuts the compensation received by pasture entrepreneurs. Traditional environments suffer.
The situation is leading to the fact that Metsähallitus, which is responsible for the management of state nature reserves and national parks, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain, for example, sheep as landscape managers for its sites.
Special expert in nature conservation Katja Raatikainen Metsähallitus’ Nature Services says that a large part of the state’s most valuable sites are located away from difficult transport links, for example in the archipelago, which increases costs.
“For example, there have been alarming messages from the Archipelago Sea and the Pärämere region. Farmers are really anxious. Many have announced that they can no longer bring grazing animals to the sites,” says Raatikainen.
Without grazing animals and continuous grazing, the landscape will become overgrown and biodiversity will be depleted in just a couple of years.
“The big risk is that pasture entrepreneurs will be lost completely. If there are no more grazing livestock, the natural diversity of the sites will deteriorate in just a couple of years,” says Raatikainen.
Traditional environments are places shaped by traditional agriculture: meadows, fields, fallow lands, forest pastures. They have become endangered when land use has changed since the 1950s and 1960s.
Traditional biotopes are the most diverse of Finland’s habitat types. They are also the most endangered, and their species is severely endangered.
More than a quarter of Finland’s endangered species live in traditional habitats. Their preservation requires constant care. The areas have become forested, bushy and overgrown.
Grazing is based on five-year EU part-financed environmental agreements for agricultural nature diversity and landscape management.
At the beginning of the year, a new program season began. With that, the interpretation of the regulation that is the basis of the agreements has changed.
Grazing compensation is paid on an area basis. According to the new interpretation, the object receiving support must have fodder production. The criterion drops out areas where feed cannot be produced.
According to Raatikainen, the biggest problems are in the forest pastures and the archipelago’s small-scale traditional environments.
“Their diversity naturally also includes, for example, rocky areas and areas dominated by sparrows in addition to grassy, open meadows that produce more fodder,” says Raatikainen.
Contract processors are currently conducting field surveys, based on which support decisions are made for pasture livestock entrepreneurs.
The degree of accuracy of terrain surveys is aari, i.e. ten by ten meters. A strict interpretation leads to the fact that the funding base for grazing sites is reduced like a hole in cheese, when separate areas are dropped from the scope of the compensation.
In Finland, the Food Agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for the interpretation.
Metsähallitus’ Nature Services fears that the compensation for entrepreneurs may be drastically reduced, which could make grazing impossible.
“The change in the interpretation of the agreement also ruins the results of the long-term work done in the past: the investment made for many years in biodiversity will be lost,” says Raatikainen.
The most endangered habitat type
Traditional biotopes are meadows, fields, fells and forest pastures maintained by traditional agriculture, grazing and mowing.
The condition of Finland’s traditional environments is poor. They are threatened by overgrowth.
In the threat assessment of nature types in 2018, all traditional environments were assessed as endangered, the majority as extremely endangered. Traditional environments are threatened by overgrowth.
Traditional environments are also a concentration of endangered species. More than a quarter of Finland’s endangered species live in them.
Correction 7.7. 7:15 p.m.: The Food Agency operates under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, not the Agency for Agriculture and Forestry.
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