The Forest Biodiversity Action Programme for Southern Finland 2008-2016, the so-called METSO Programme, combines the protection and commercial use of forests. The aim is to halt the decline in forest habitats and species and establish stable favourable trends in forest biodiversity by 2016. The programme is implemented through ecologically efficient, voluntary and cost-effective means. The Finnish Government approved the programme in March 2008, together with Finland's National Forest Programme 2015.
Protection in the context of the METSO Programme is based on voluntary actions by landowners, including both permanent and temporary measures. Voluntary actions are taken to protect habitats in forest nature that represent varied structural features of the growing stock and diversity of forest species.
Regional forestry and environment centres and professional forest advisers (forest management associations, forest industry, forestry service enterprises) provide information to forest owners on how to assess the biodiversity of different sites. The regional forest and environmental authorities decide whether a certain site is suitable to be included in the programme.
The objectives are reached by
- improving Finland's network of protected areas
- nature management in commercially managed forests
- developing the impact assessment and measuring of results and
- collaboration between forest and environmental organisations, advice to forest owners, training of professional foresters, and communication.
The METSO sites are inventoried and evaluated using ecological site selection criteria. Important sites for biodiversity to be protected under the METSO Programme are
1. herb-rich forests
2. heathland forests with plenty of decaying wood
3. wooded mires and wooded margins of open mires
4. swampy woodlands and wooded flood meadows
5. woodlands adjacent to small water bodies
6. biodiversity sites along emergent coastlines
7. sunlit slopes of sandy esker ridges
8. wooded traditional biotopes
9. wooded cliffs important for biodiversity
10. steep cliffs and boulder fields
11. wooded habitats on calcium-rich bedrock and ultra-alkaline soil