Story | 28 Feb, 2019

Finland Publishes the Most Comprehensive Red List of Ecosystems in the World

The results of the extensive assessment for the Red List of all of Finland’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems were published in December 2018. The threat status of ecosystem or habitat types in Finland was now evaluated for the second time, using this time the new assessment methodology called IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria.

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Photo: Antti Below, Finnish Environmental Administration's Image Bank

Almost half (48%) of the nearly 400 habitat types were assessed as threatened. The status of habitat types has not improved in Finland since the first assessment which took place ten years ago.

Instead, assessments show that the trend among many habitat types is declining. However, hope is not lost, and altogether 70 proposals for measures are listed in the final report.

Nearly 400 Habitat Types Assessed Using IUCN RLE Criteria

Among the RLEs finalized so far in different countries, the Finnish RLE is exceptionally comprehensive in its habitat coverage and in the application of the IUCN RLE Criteria. Each of the five criteria, reflecting either the distributional or functional symptoms of ecosystems risk, were considered for each of the nearly 400 habitat types.

Changes were examined during the past 50 years, and over a longer time span, with a comparison to the pre-industrial era of the 1750s. Attempts were also made to predict future changes.

In the assessment, Finnish habitat types were divided into eight main groups: the Baltic Sea, the Baltic Sea coast, inland waters and shores, mires, forests, rocky habitats, seminatural grasslands, and fell habitats.

Almost Half of Finland’s Habitat Types Threatened

All the seminatural grasslands were assessed as threatened: most of them are Critically Endangered (CR). Forest habitat types account for the second largest proportion (76%) of threatened habitats, while the lowest proportions were found in inland waters (20%), the Baltic Sea (24%) and rocky habitats (25%).

The division of habitat types to Red List Categories in each habitat type group according to the number of habitat types. The number of habitat types in each group is shown on the right. The Red List categories: LC = Least Concern, NT = Near Threatened, VU = Vulnerable, EN = Endangered, CR = Critically Endangered, and DD = Data Deficient. Habitat types classified as VU, EN and CR are threatened.

Extensive Cooperation between All Key Players

More than 120 experts were involved in the three-year project, and the outcome exceeds 1300 pages that give descriptions, distribution maps, photos, and the reasoning behind the assessment results for each habitat type.

The work was coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), and the assessment included participants from all major organizations in Finland. The work was steered and funded by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.

More information available on the Finnish RLE website:

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