One fifth of Europe's surface area is protected

The share of key protected areas of total land area in some countries in 2010

Share of protected areas
1) Excluding Greenland. Source: Environment statistics, Yearbook 2013. Statistics Finland. 2013.

Nature conservation areas and wilderness areas in Finland in early 2012

Nature conservation areas

“Others” includes herb-rich forest reserves, old-growth forest reserves and seal protection areas as well as conservation areas on Åland, those established by Metsähallitus, and other state-owned conservation areas. Sources: Ministry of Environment and Metsähallitus. 2013.

In an international comparison of protected areas, Finland is close to the average with nature reserves and wilderness areas covering some 9% of the country's surface area. International comparisons are, however, difficult to make because the criteria of protection vary. In some countries, industrial activity or large-scale agriculture may be permitted in a protected area. This is not the case in Finland, but even here one can find many types of protected areas, though most of them are relatively strictly protected.

Finland has a long tradition of maintaining biodiversity through designating areas for protection. The first nature conservation area was established on the Malla fell in the far north as long ago as 1916 while the first national parks and strict nature reserves were founded in 1938. In early 2012, the total number of various protected areas came close to 9,000. Small nature reserves on private land account for the majority of these. The number of national parks is 37, of which the newest, those of Sipoonkorpi and the Bothnian Sea, were established in 2011. As far as habitats are concerned, the fell regions of Lapland have the best coverage by national parks. The situation is distinctly weaker on rivers and lakes, which are underrepresented in the national park network compared to their prevalence in Finnish nature.

The primary aim of the national strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is to halt the loss of biodiversity in Finland. The action plan for the strategy's implementation seeks not only to secure biodiversity by means of traditional nature conservation methods, such as nature reserves, but to make environmental values an integral part of all decision-making. Even areas used for forestry and agriculture are vital to pursuing this goal. In such areas, the aim is to promote biodiversity through a number of voluntary methods, in addition to legislation, such as forest certification and agri-environmental support measures.


  • Protected areas in Europe - an overview. EEA Report No 5/2012.
  • Ministry of Environment and Metsähallitus. 2013.
  • Anna-Liisa Ahokumpu: Kotomaamme koko kuva? Suomen kansallispuistoverkoston pinta-alan ja maanpeitteen kehitys 1938–2012. Master’s thesis, University of Helsinki. 2013.


Published 2015-08-19 at 14:10, updated 2016-07-22 at 14:10