Adaptation to climate change is also included in the objectives of the law.
“Today we adopted a proposal for an independent nature conservation law in independent Finland. The new proposal is based on a law passed in 1996. The first nature conservation law came into force in 1923, almost a hundred years ago. The reform was needed – and the Minister of Climate. Emma Kari.
The current Nature Conservation Act came into force in 1997. The Act has stood the test of time quite well, but has also been amended several times. The functioning and impact of the law need to be strengthened and a number of elements need to be updated and the law as a whole clarified. We have a lot of new information about endangered habitats and species, as well as the state of Finland’s nature and a better understanding of the effects of climate change on biodiversity, and other legislation, instruments and administration have changed during the current Nature Conservation Act.
The new law will protect nature even more strongly
Habitat protection is taking a big leap forward in the new law. The protection of certain already protected habitats will be further strengthened. In addition, the law provides a legal framework for the protection of endangered habitats and strictly prohibits the deterioration of protected habitats. The protection of species will also be intensified and clarified, which together with the protection of habitats will significantly contribute to the protection of biodiversity in Finland.
The law also aims to promote environmental awareness among individual citizens and private and public actors in order to protect biodiversity.
The provisions concerning protected areas remain largely unchanged, but e.g. the removal of harmful alien species from protected areas will be simplified. This applies e.g. mink and raccoon dog, two alien species that are very harmful to biodiversity in Finland because they can significantly deplete waterfowl populations.
Mineral exploration in national and natural parks will be banned and the conditions for operating in other state protected areas will be tightened. Restrictions on mineral exploration have been aligned with the Mining Act reform process.
Voluntary ecological compensation is included in the law
Voluntary ecological compensation will be included in the law as a new element. This provides a way to compensate for the deterioration of the natural environment caused by economic activity.
Ecological compensation is an economic instrument that, in accordance with the polluter pays principle, can include the harmful costs of biodiversity in the costs of implementing a project. Landowners can also produce natural values and obtain an official certificate from them. The natural values produced can be sold to companies that want to compensate for the natural handicaps caused by their operations. The person causing the deterioration can obtain evidence that the compensation for the deterioration has been appropriate, ie the party must be able to demonstrate its responsibility to both civil society and, for example, investors and the economy in a transparent manner.
Participation and incentives strengthened
The aim of the new Nature Conservation Act is to promote the participation of citizens in decision-making concerning their own living environment. In addition to strengthening general environmental awareness, interaction and dialogue in nature conservation planning will be increased.
The law also strengthens the possibilities for providing financial support for conservation and creates a statutory framework for voluntary conservation programs, such as the Helmi Nature Program and Metso’s Forest Diversity Program in Southern Finland. The acceptability of nature conservation will be enhanced by clarifying and, in part, extending the regulation of compensation. The rights of landowners will be safeguarded by the current compensation system based on the principle of full compensation.
The law also promotes the rights of the Sámi by taking greater account of the rights of their indigenous peoples in the implementation of the Nature Conservation Act. The proposal includes a ban on undermining the traditional livelihood and culture of the Sámi.
Reform prepared in extensive co – operation
The draft of the new Nature Conservation Act was prepared in a project launched by the Ministry of the Environment in early 2020. The project team and steering group consisted of representatives from various ministries, authorities, research organizations, NGOs and stakeholders. . In order to strengthen the scientific background of the reform, the Ministry of the Environment, together with the Finnish Science Adviser Sofi, has assembled a group of researchers whose task was to create an overall picture of the effects of the legislative reform.
The goal is for the new Nature Conservation Act to enter into force in the summer of 2023.
Source: Ministry of the Environment
Source: The Nordic Page