Situated in the boreal coniferous forest zone, Finland is surrounded by the Baltic Sea, Sweden, Norway and Russia. The northernmost part of the country lies above the Arctic Circle, whereas the southern area of the landscape is dominated by an archipelago of 179,000 islands. Between those extremes, Finland is characterised by vast forests and 188,000 lakes, which give the country the yet underestimating name of “land of the thousand lakes”.
Finland hosts approximately 45,000 species of animals and plants, representing 29% of the total species described for Europe and possibly 3% of the species in the world. Of the total number of species found in the country, 21,400 have been assessed in 2010, showing that 10% of these are threatened (click here and here for the 2010 Red List of Finnish Species).
All Europe’s large carnivores (Brown Bear, Grey Wolf, Eurasian Lynx and Wolverine) are present in Finland, and the only existing population of the endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal is also found in the country.
Finland’s first Nature Conservation Act came into effect in 1923, and first conservation efforts were put in the protection of individual species and natural monuments, and in the establishment of protected areas. Amended in 1997, the Nature Conservation Act aims at ensuring natural diversity.
Wetland, grassland and forest ecosystems are big part of Finland's landscape and need to be preserved. The Natura2000 network, with nearly 1900 areas, covers some 5 million ha of Finland’s total area of 34 million ha. The overall protected area network includes 37 national parks, 19 strict nature reserves, 12 wilderness reserves and 500 other protected areas, helping the conservation of islands, lakes, mires, forests and fell landscapes, and of the species they host. The management effectiveness of the Protected Areas system has been evaluated twice: using the IUCN Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PAME) framework, a comprehensive State of the Parks report was first published in 2007. A second evaluation took place in 2010.
Finland’s five IUCN Member organisations are: Ministry of the Environment, WWF Finland, Finnish Society for Nature and Environment, Finnish Wildlife Agency and Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, which was one of the founders of IUCN in 1948. Finland is one of IUCN Framework Donors.