The 550-year-old City of Espoo in Southern Finland received the 2009 award for biodiversity by the Minister of the Environment, Paula Lehtomäki. To celebrate its 550th anniversary, the City has decided to protect a 550-hectares forested area which covers three per cent of the total area of Espoo.
Minister Paula Lehtomäki thanked Espoo for acting as a pioneer in biodiversity conservation and being a good example for other municipalities and decision-makers. “If a city in densely-populated Southern Finland can do this, it surely is an inspiration for other municipalities in Finland to strive for similar solutions”, said Lehtomäki. “The protection decision is an innovative and concrete way of combining decision-making, human needs and environmental issues”.
The jury emphasised the importance of protecting forests in Southern Finland where the share of protected areas is lower than in other parts of the country. The decision by the City of Espoo leaves an immeasurable, priceless and everlasting legacy for future generations that can be enjoyed by the present generation.
The Countdown 2010 competition is organized in Finland every two years by the IUCN Finnish National Committee. The first competition was held during Finland’s EU Presidency in autumn 2006. The successful natural landscaping of a former dump and landfill site stood out as the clear winner of the 2007 Countdown 2010 competition.