In a letter to Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Juha Korkeaoja calls for a revision of the classification of wolf in the Habi-tats Directive. According to Korkeaoja, all large carnivores in Finland should be transferred from Annex IV to Annex V of the Directive as soon as possible.
The current Directive allows such a change, but the initiative must come from the Com-mission. The revision would not remove the national responsibility for protection and man-agement of the populations, but it would leave the selection of means to be decided na-tionally.
The classification of Finland in the Habitats Directive is based on the situation of the early 1990s, when the Finnish wolf population consisted of less than 100 individuals. By now the population has grown to 250 individuals. The population has spread to new regions, and in recent years the population growth has been very strong compared to the other EU coun-tries which had a wolf population in the 1990s. In spite of this Finland is the only Member State which has been before the European Court of Justice for alleged violation of wolf protection.
The strong growth of the Finnish wolf population and its spread to new regions has caused significant social and economic problems locally. In his letter Minister Korkeaoja points out that the conflict caused by wolf protection is now deeper than ever before. The aim is to restore the faith of the people in the ability of the government to protect and manage the large carnivore population and to win the approval of the citizens for the nature protection policy of the Community.
According to Minister Korkeaoja, the current situation has led to long and complex deci-sion-making processes when granting hunting permits. The discussion focuses on whether an individual permit meets the obligations of the Directive, while the main purpose of the Directive, i.e. status and development of wolf populations, has remained secondary.
Further information at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Jouni Lind, State Secretary, tel. 358 (0)9 160 53323, 358 (0)50 521 3305