New Ramsar sites and significant extensions in Finland
Finland designates 38 new Ramsar sites
The Ramsar Secretariat has the pleasure to announce that Finland has designated 38 new Ramsar sites throughout the country, totaling 606,345 hectares in surface area, with nine sites in each of Southern and Western Finland, five in Eastern Finland, eight in the middle province of Oulu and finally eight new sites in the most northern region of Lapland, which are in some cases transnational wetlands with Russia, Sweden or Norway. At the same time, the information on a further eleven Ramsar sites already designated in 1974 (Ramsar sites numbers 2 through 12) has been thoroughly updated, and two of those existing Ramsar sites have been significantly extended in area. The total area of the 49 Ramsar sites in Finland now amounts to 799,518 hectares and covers besides river, estuary and coastal areas very large extensions of peatlands, which are identified as being under-represented in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Many different varieties of peatlands which are threatened in Europe have thus been recognized as Ramsar sites such as palsa mires, eccentric bogs, raised bogs, aapa mires and other types. They are widely spread throughout the country, with the largest extensions in Lapland, where the various types of peatland cover more than 400,000 ha from aapa mires, bog woodland and springs, Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods, but also spring fens, blanket and hanging bogs and others. Palsa mires such as Sammuttijänkä-Vaijoenjänkä Mires (51,749 ha), which represents Finland's largest continuous mire area in natural state, are among the most valuable breeding areas of waterfowl and waders in Fjeld Lapland.
Sedge fens with flarks and Sphagnum papillosum sedge fens are the most common mire types with nutrient levels varying from raised bogs to rich fens. Its entire range of types is represented through sites such as Torronsuo National Park, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park, Levaneva Mires, Veneneva-Pelso Mires, Olvassuo Mires, Oulanka National Park, Riisitunturi National Park, River Luiro Mires, Teuravuoma-Kivijärvenvuoma Mires and Lemmenjoki National Park in northern Lapland, which is Finland's largest National Park and one of Europe's most extensive roadless and uninhabited wilderness areas.
Several new coastal sites have been designated in southern Finland along the long, complex coast of the Baltic Sea. They include large estuary and coastal areas as well as widely scattered rocky archipelagos with countless islands and islets. In addition to the newly-designated island and bay sites, the existing Valassaaret & Björkögrunden Archipelago (16,730 ha) has been vastly extended to nearly 64,000 ha, encompassing a large area of additional islets and skerries under the new name of Quark Archipelago. It is situated in the narrowest and shallowest area of the Gulf of Bothnia at the northern limit for many marine species.
Flads and gloes are another particularity in the Baltic sea, which are occurring at the coastal areas such as Bird Wetlands of Hanko and Tammisaari, the Lake Läppträsket, Liminganlahti Bay and Lake Kirkkojärvi and Lupinlahti Bay. Both the flad and gloe forms are typical for Finnish coasts because of land upheaval but are unique in universal scale as special kinds of lagoons. Gloe lakes are a special type of freshwater lake which has become naturally separated from the sea in recent times; flads refer to such formations before the separation is complete and the site still has some contact with the sea.
Other types of lake and river wetlands, estuaries and bays are described as bird-lakes or bird wetlands such as Rantasalmi, Lapväärtti, Rääkkylä and Kitee, Heinä-Suvanto and Hetejärvi, Haapavesi and Hailuoto Island, and Siikajoki. In fact, however, most of the designated sites are important bird areas for breeding, molting, staging or wintering regardless of whether they are coastal, estuarial, river wetlands or peatlands. Furthermore the majority of sites except the archipelagos also support threatened mammals, especially wolf and globally threatened species such as wolverine, brown bear, as well as more common species such as lynx and otter.
Assistant Advisor for Europe
New Ramsar sites in Finland
(WHCP = Finnish Waterfowl Habitats Conservation Programme)
Bird-lakes of Rääkkylä and Kitee. 02/02/04; Eastern Finland; 1,227 ha; 62º10'N 029º56'E. Natura 2000 SPA, WHCP. Five lake areas distributed in a circumference of about 50km, forming the most important complex in Northern Karelia for breeding and migrating wetland birds. About 600 pairs of 18 species breed in the areas and the wetlands are important as staging areas for waterfowl during migration periods. Hovinlampi-Ylälampi, Joki-Hautalampi and Jouhtenuslampi are lake-like bays of Orivesi watercourse in a quite pristine state with boggy shores in process of slowly overgrowing. In general, the vegetation is gradually phasing into extensive flood meadows dominated by sedges. Apart from the overgrown northern part, the Juurikkajärvi lake is characterized by extensive helophyte vegetation and meadows at its edges. Päätyeenlahti is a narrow lake bay with vast and rich submerged vegetation. Extensive sedge meadows, willow growths and quaking bogs are exceptionally abundant on the shores. Hunting of waterfowl in autumn and fishing in spring is intense in most areas and, with boating activities around holiday cottages, disturbs both breeding and staging birds. Ramsar site no. 1502.
Bird-lakes of Rantasalmi. 02/02/04; Eastern Finland; 1,109 ha; 62º01'N 028º24'E. Natura 2000, SPA and partly SCI, WHCP, Mire Conservation Programme. A diverse and representative complex characterized by flood meadows, reedbeds and a range of different mire types. All four wetland areas of the site are connected to Lake Haukivesi. Putkilahti-Ruskeaperä is a shallow lake with extensive growths of water horsetail and common reed, with flood meadows and poor fens of about 20 different mire types. Both lakes Kosulanlampi and Pieni Raudanvesi are in process of overgrowing with diverse vegetation. The area of Vaahersalonlampi is a narrow sound of Lake Haukivesi, surrounded by extensive sedge meadows and an alder zone, which gradually transforms into pasturage with diverse meadows and an old-growth silver birch forest. Overgrowing of all lakes is caused by the discharge of effluent waters, and a peat mining area nearby increases the humus contents of the lake. Concurrently American Mink and Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) populations may cause damage to the breeding of birds. Overall, the traditional pasturing forms the valuable shape of the cultural landscape and two birdwatching towers have been constructed to serve recreational and natural interests. Ramsar site no. 1503.
Bird Wetlands of Haapavesi. 02/02/04; Oulu; 3,616 ha; 64º15'N 025º30'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP and Mire Conservation Programme. Eight closely situated lakes and two mires forming a diverse wetland complex with an exceptionally high density of breeding and staging waterfowl and waders in the Middle-Ostrobothnia. In spring or autumn, more than 1,000 individuals of Wigeons, Tufted Ducks and Goldeneyes can be seen and more than 400 Whooper Swans rest at the lakes on peak days. At Lake Ainali the highest daily counts of both waterfowl and waders may reach more than 2,000 individuals in May. The site represents the mire vegetation regions of southern aapa mires and of eccentric bogs and Sphagnum fuscum bogs, but also sedge fens supporting wide growths of water horsetail and nympheids. The lakes are surrounded mainly by paludified forests of pine and birch. Open mires are separated from each other by various types of pine bogs and spruce mires, which in certain places transform into wet meadows and grassy types. Draining activities are causing an increase of the humus content of the waters and the drying up of some flark areas of the mires in recent years. Significant values of the site also include birdwatching and outdoor recreation. Ramsar site no. 1504.
Bird Wetlands of Hailuoto Island. 02/02/04; Oulu; 6,512 ha; 65º00'N 024º45'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, HELCOM Baltic Sea Protected Area, Finnish Waterfowl Habitats, Mires, Eskers and Shores Conservation Programmes. A number of wetlands distributed all over Hailuoto Island in the Bothnian Bay, a unique area for breeding and migrating birds and important threatened and endemic plant communities. According to estimates more than 35% of the over-wintering populations of continental Europe migrate via Hailuoto Island and nearby coasts, and even summer flocks of waterfowl reach 8,000 Goosanders and 2,000 Goldeneyes. The site is characterized by extensive reedy bays, coastal meadows and sandy shores. The northern shore is formed by a wide esker area. Dunes of various types occur on the shores as well as wrinkling flads and gloes, typical forms of lagoons in the Baltic Sea. Former sea bays with extensive sedge meadows and bush zones, sometimes reedbelts and deciduous forests, sandbanks and countless small islets, reefs and shoals are found in the western and southern parts. Significant values include scientific research on fauna and flora and monitoring of restoration measures as well as environmental education, birdwatching and outdoor recreation activities. Ramsar site no. 1505.
Bird Wetlands of Hanko and Tammisaari. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 55,196 ha; 59º49'N 023º10'E. National Park, Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP, Baltic Sea Protected Area. A complex of archipelago, shallow sea bays as well as flads and gloes, two types of lagoons created by land upheaval. Covering a large range of biotopes from limnetic, brackish zones to marine and offshore ones, it includes important natural wetland habitat types such as coastal lagoons, boreal Baltic coastal meadows, bog woodland and Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods with a notable amount of nationally threatened flora and fauna species. Tens of thousands of both ducks and waders use the area during migration, and it regularly supports 6% of the biogeographical population of Caspian Tern, which represents Finland's largest colony. Oil pollution damage is the main threat because of shipping routes to the recently-enlarged Hanko harbour and near the southern parts of the area. There is a heavy pressure for recreational usage and building on the shores. Tourist facilities are present, including a visitor centre, nature trails, camping sites as well as an observation tower, because of special interest in birdwatching at Hanko Peninsula. Ramsar site no. 1506.
Bird Wetlands of Lapväärtti. 02/02/04; Western Finland, 1,224 ha; 62º11'N 021º26'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, WHCP. A variety of wetland types forming a very valuable site for both breeding and migrating wetland bird species. Due to a small connection to the open sea, the old sea bay Härkmerifjärden still supports some typical brackish water plant species, surrounded with forests of spruce and Grey Alder at its shores. Other lakes are characterized by a wider variety from growths of common club-rush, water horsetail, water lilies, and common reed.The River Lapväärtinjoki discharges into a long and narrow sea bay, the estuary of which is characterized by extensive, uniform growths of reeds, sedges and willows, surrounded by deciduous and mixed forests and agricultural land in the northern part. Negative influences include overgrowing, increasing acidity (which has caused a few mass destructions of fishes), and the building of holiday cottages; ditching carried out in the early 1990s has drained the area considerably. Ramsar site no. 1507.
Bird Wetlands of Siikajoki. 02/02/04; Oulu; 2,691 ha; 64º52'N 024º48'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP. The four main adjacent shore areas around Siikajoki consisting of capes, a river estuary, mires and shoals, which together form a unique wetland unit for breeding and migrating bird fauna. At the centre of the site is the Merikylänlahti sea bay characterized by coastal meadows in the process of turning into a gloe lake formation. In general the flora of the site contains two very special groups, the endemic species of the Gulf of Bothnia and the so-called Primula nutans (Siberian primrose) group of arctic species in isolation from the main distribution areas of the Arctic Ocean. The importance of the area is exceptional in migration periods. Increased recreation and extension of holiday dwelling constructions, as well as intensive hunting of waterfowl, are causing disturbance. Furthermore the planned road connection to Hailuoto Island threatens the northeastern part of the Ramsar site. Ramsar site no. 1508.
Bird Wetlands of Vanajavesi Area. 02/02/04; Western Finland, Southern Finland; 702 ha; 61º13'N 024º15'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP. Eight separate areas forming a representative wetland complex of four lakes and four bays with a valuable wetland bird fauna. Different wetland types include reed zones with small open-water areas and submerged or floating-leaved vegetation or extensive growths of water horsetail and wide sedge meadows. Bays are rather small and sheltered with vegetation dominated by common reed, common club-rush and water horsetail. During the breeding season the site supports more than 500 pairs of 16 species, among them 10 species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I, including several pairs of e.g. Slavonian Grebe, Bittern, Whooper Swan and Crane. The lakes and bays are also important staging areas for waterfowl during migration and molting periods. Eutrophication of the lakes and the impact of American Mink and Raccoon Dog populations on breeding birds affect the ecological character of the site. Visitors enjoy the site for outdoor recreation and birdwatching activities benefiting from facilities such as two observation towers at two different lake areas. Ramsar site no. 1509.
Kainuunkylä Islands. 02/02/04; Lapland; 1,005 ha; 66º12'N 023º44'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP. The most extensive area of alluvial meadows in Finland and the largest pool in the River Tornionjoki, where it is situated in the middle of the river dividing it into numerous small tributaries. On the meadows on the 15 islands vegetation is very diverse but aquatic vegetation is scarse. Sedge meadows are extensive near the waterline, whereas in central areas the vegetation becomes bushy and partly forested on the largest islands. The breeding and migrating wetland bird fauna include about 160 waterfowl pairs of 11-13 species and about 140 wader pairs of 10-12 species that are breeding in the area. The pool area of the river is also an important staging place during migration and moulting periods as well as habitat for some scarce species such as Smew, Hen Harrier, Ruff and Arctic Tern. The River Tornionjoki is also the most important reproductive area of salmon for the Baltic Sea region. Because of the cessation of grazing and hay cutting, the waters are in process of overgrowing and there also occurs some natural erosion along the waterline. Ramsar site no. 1510.
Kauhaneva - Pohjankangas National Park. 02/02/04; Western Finland; 6,849 ha; 62º11'N 022º25'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, National Park, Finnish Mire Conservation and Esker Conservation Programmes. The mires form the largest and most representative raised bog area in the region of concentric bogs in southern Ostrobothnia, composed of several closely situated mires of which the largest is Kauhaneva, an exceptionally well-developed raised bog with large minerotrophic flark and sedge fens, small brooks and tens of ponds and pools. The esker formations beside the mires are characterized by barren pine heath forests. On the edges of eskers there are springfens, some of which include brook beds with impressive topography. More than 400 pairs of 11 wader species are breeding in the area, which is also an important staging area for, e.g., Bean Goose. Adverse effects are caused by forestry drainage and peat mining nearby, as well as a decrease in groundwater level as a result of extraction from the Nummikangas Esker. After the establishment of the National Park in 1982, the major part of the mires was included in the Mire or Esker Conservation Programmes. Ramsar site no. 1511.
Kirkon-Vilkkiläntura Bay. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 194 ha; 60º31'N 027º42'E. Natura 2000 SPA, WHCP. A shallow and sheltered sea bay on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, connected to the sea through two narrow sounds. The eastern part, Vilkkiläntura, is characterized by an extensive reed zone and narrow alluvial meadows fringed with a zone of Black Alder; the western part, Kirkontura, has risen above the average sea level and is characterized by extensive sedge meadows with only a small open-water area. The bay is an exceptionally important staging area for waterfowl, as for Whooper Swans, Bewick's Swans and Smews, and waders in migration periods. The breeding waterfowl include 14 species of which 7 are listed in the EU Birds Directive Annex I. Eutrophication and overgrowing are accelerated by agriculture, nearby fish farming and earlier wastewaters. Planned conservation measures include mowing, dredging and increasing of grazing to stop overgrowing of the wetland. The area is a very popular birdwatching site especially in spring. Two birdwatching towers have been constructed and outdoor recreation has a significant value. Ramsar site no. 1512.
Lake Kirkkojärvi and Lupinlahti Bay. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 649 ha; 60º33'N 027º13'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP. Kirkkojärvi is composed of several overgrown gloe lakes, and open-water areas cover only 20 percent of the wetland. Gloe lakes are a special type of freshwater lake which have become naturally separated from the sea in recent times; another type, before the separation when it still has some contact to sea, is called flad. These two forms are typical for Finnish coasts because of land upheaval but uncommon elsewhere. Lupinlahti is a long and narrow sea bay with several islands, connected to the sea through four narrow sounds. The site forms a valuable breeding and staging area for a wide variety of wetland birds during migration periods. The main threats are vegetation overgrowing, building pressure on the shores, and plans for constructing a new motorway on the northern side of the bay. The existing causeway with electric lines causes risk especially for large birds; boating activities have increased and cause disturbance to the breeding and migrating birds. Recreational importance of the site is notable in terms of birdwatching and educational activities. Ramsar site no. 1513.
Lake Kirkkojärvi Area. 02/02/04; Western Finland; 305 ha; 61º27'N 024º03'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, WHCP. Five separate lakes in the Kirkkojärvi area, connected to one another by small brooks in a close group. With its diverse aquatic and extensive vegetation zones, it forms the most valuable wetland complex in the Pirkanmaa region, especially for migrating and molting waterfowl. Common reed and bulrushes are abundant and the lakes are for the most part bordered by deciduous shore forests further surrounded by agricultural land. The discharge of wastewater into the lake and downstream waters until the 1980s, as well as the dissolving of nutrients from nearby fields, led to a strong eutrophication in the past. Lowering of the water level of the Taivallammi lake and the dredging of the outlet of Kirkkojärvi have had negative impacts. Presently, negative effects are mainly caused by off-site pressure such as increased building and noise emission of the motorway around the area. In 1991 a management and land use plan was established, and present management includes a range of educational offers as well as birdwatching facilities. Ramsar site no. 1514.
Lake Kutajärvi Area. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 1,051 ha; 61º03'N 025º27'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP, Nationally Important Landscape Area. Comprising six separate areas including some bays of Vesijärvi Lake and the Lake of Kutajärvi, the complex presents a total of 980 ha of water with valuable aquatic vegetation in the form of helophytes, submerged vegetation as well as sedge meadows and bush zones. The site is an important area for breeding for about 1000 pairs of 16-18 species, and both lakes are notable as staging areas during migration and molting periods, with peak numbers including several thousand ducks. Threatened birds include for example Moorhen, Slavonian Grebe, Spotted Crake and Crane. Most of the area is surrounded by agricultural land. Water quality has improved after a sewage treatment plant began operation in 1976, but the waters still contain excessive nutrients. In some areas, disturbances are caused by increasing boating and fishing and hunting of waterfowl in autumn. Other adverse factors are overgrown meadows, increase of holiday cottage building, and unauthorized dredging. An ecological management programme concerning fish-management and nutrients of agriculture has been in operation at Vesijärvi since 1987. Ramsar site no. 1515.
Lake Läppträsket. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 199 ha; 60º02'N 023º39'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP, Nationally Important Landscape Area. A natural eutrophic lake with valuable flora and both breeding and migrating wetland bird fauna. More than 122 vascular plant species occur in the wetland area. Submerged vegetation is exceptionally rich with about 20 vascular plant species, including several species characteristic of brackish water. The lake is the westernmost known site in the world where the endangered naiad species Najas tenuissima exists. The site is an important staging area for waterfowl during migration periods; in autumn, the highest daily counts reach more than 200 Smews, representing the peak numbers in Finland. Negative effects on the ecological character of the site were caused by the lowering of the water level in the 1930s and the discharge of wastewater from Karjaa city until the 1970s, as well as from eutrophication by nutrients dissolving from clayfields. Despite disturbances from recreation fishing to the breeding of some waterfowl species, Läppträsket is a popular birdwatching site provided with two observation towers and a nature trail. Ramsar site no. 1516.
Lake Sysmäjärvi. 02/02/04; Eastern Finland; 734 ha; 62º41'N 029º03'E. Natura 2000 SPA, WHCP. The most valuable of the North Karelian bird-lakes and among the ten most important wetlands in Finland. It is characterized by extensive growths of common reed and water horsetail, including about 690 ha of water and 22 small islands, as well as alluvial meadows and bush zones on shores, surrounded by a narrow forest zone and agricultural land. The high conservational value is due to the high diversity of breeding and migrating wetland bird species. The regulation of the water level disturbs the populations of breeding waterfowl and due to further overgrowing of the lake the breeding species declined by 40 percent in 1983-99. Other strong impacts are caused by heavy metals and increase of salt as well as discharges from sewage plants, mining industries and agricultural land. An ongoing EU Life project includes the restoration of meadows, removing aquatic plants and intensifying the removal of predatory mammals such as Raccoon Dog and American Mink. Ramsar site no. 1517.
Lakes Aittojärvi and Kongasjärvi. 02/02/04; Oulu, 703 ha; 65º16'N 026º54'E. Natura 2000 SPA, WHCP. Very shallow lakes with extensive vegetation zones with growths of water horsetail and sedge meadows and swampy shores, constituted on peat, glacigenic ground moraine, and glacifluvial gravel and sand ground. Both lakes are important areas for waterfowl and waders in the periods of breeding, molting and migration. Between 13 and 17 species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I breed in the area, as well as EU Habitats Directive Annex II mammals such as the otter (lutra lutra). The mires of Aittojärvi have been drained to some extent, and the water level of Kongasjärvi has been lowered earlier and bushes have conquered the alluvial meadows. Overgrowing of both lakes and hunting of waterfowl in autumn is negatively affecting the site. Furthermore the populations of American Mink and Raccoon Dog may cause damage to the breeding of birds. Ramsar site no. 1518.
Lakes Heinä-Suvanto and Hetejärvi. 02/02/04; Eastern Finland, Western Finland; 1,224 ha; 63º09'N 026º08'E; Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, WHCP. Two lakes dominated by water horsetail, sedge meadows and a mire zone of various types, comprising the most valuable area for both breeding and migrating wetland birds in Central Finland. Amongst the bird population are about 21 species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I breeding in the area, e.g. Wood Sandpiper, Slavonian Grebe and Black Grouse and some more scarce species such as Hen Harrier and Osprey. In total the breeding waterfowl include about 130 pairs of 14 species and during migration the highest daily counts in spring may reach, e.g., more than 150 individuals of Whooper Swans and more than 100 of Bean Geese with smaller numbers of other species. A restoration plan for Heinä-Suvanto was renewed in the 1990s, new areas of open water have been dredged, management and land use plans are in elaboration, and it is planned to raise the water level by 0.5 m. It is a site with few visitors, but still has some facilities such as two birdwatching towers and one nature trail. Ramsar site no. 1519.
Lätäseno - Hietajoki Mires. 02/02/04; Lapland; 43,367 ha; 68º40'N 022º20'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Wilderness Area, Mire Protection Area. An important conservation area of palsa mires and the northernmost occurrence of several mire and aquatic plants. The unbroken area is situated in the northwestern part of the province of Lapland bordered by Norway to the north and by Sweden to the south. The site represents the mire vegetation regions of palsa mires in Fjeld Lapland and of northern aapa mires, presented through palsa mires, where wet flark and sedge fens occur. The northern limit of pine crosses the area and mountain birch is the only common tree species. The breeding waterfowl and waders are the most abundant and diverse in the whole province, supporting at least 21 threatened bird species in Europe. Among the mammals are wolf, wolverine and Arctic Fox, including the Brown Bear as a rare visitor, and both lynx and otter as sparse inhabitants. It is also one of the few areas where salmon of the Baltic Sea, but also Brown Trout and Arctic Char, still spawn. Reindeer husbandry is an important livelihood in the area with up to 7,000 reindeer kept by the owners. Acid deposition, caused by a long-distance fallout mainly from Kola Peninsula (Russia) industries, weakens the buffering capacity of lakes and ponds. A management and land use plan for the site is in preparation. Ramsar site no. 1520.
Lemmenjoki National Park. 02/02/04; Lapland; 285,990 ha; 68º35'N 025º36'. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, National Park. Finland's largest national park and one of Europe's most extensive roadless and uninhabited wilderness areas, one in which all the mire types of northern forest Lapland can be found. The central part is dominated by more than 70 km along River Lemmenjoki, but the largest mires are in the southern part; Repokaira is composed of uplands characterized by mountain birch, and the mires have a special character with barren heaths and numerous small waterbodies. Extensive open mires spread out between forest ridges on both sides of River Ivalojoki, where grassy flarks are well developed, characterized by extensive growths of the cotton-grass species. Blanket mires occur everywhere on the hill-slopes of river valleys, and the springs are accompanied by rich fen-like mires. Threatened mammals such as wolverine, Arctic Fox, Brown Bear, lynx and otter find their habitat in these pristine landscapes, and about 29 European-threatened bird species are breeding in the area. Significant values of the site include environmental education, scientific research, reindeer husbandry, outdoor recreation, recreation fishing and gold washing, but increasing tourism and hiking may cause disturbance. Ramsar site no. 1521.
Levaneva Mires. 02/02/04; Western Finland, 3,343 ha; 62º46'N 022º05'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme. One of the largest, nearly virgin mire complexes of concentric bogs in southern Ostrobothnia, part of the biogeographic region of the middle boreal forest vegetation zone. The area includes about 3,000 ha of mires and about 240 ha of water surrounded by forests and mires. Levaneva consists of three vast, more or less separated concentric raised bogs with plenty of hollows and ponds and a mosaic of forested islands. It is an important breeding and staging area for numerous threatened bird species in migration periods, and the site provides habitats for threatened mammals in Europe such as lynx, wolf, and Russian Flying Squirrel. In the past impacts were mainly caused by drainage ditching and eutrophication, but water level regulation of the reservoir westwards may still negatively affect mire edges. The first protection statute was achieved in 1993 followed by measures for national and international conservation programmes and regulations. Ramsar site no. 1522.
Liminganlahti Bay Area. 02/02/04; Oulu; 12,275 ha; 64º56'N 025º21'E. Natura 2000 Network, SPA, SCI, WHCP, HELCOM Baltic Sea Protected Area. Basic elements typical of the coast of the Bothnian Bay, such as lagoons, muddy shores, coastal meadows, natural forests of primary succession stages and small islets, form together a wide and varied wholeness. As the shores are low-lying and the water level varies, the vegetation zones are exceptionally extensive. Wrinkling flads and gloe ponds are typical of the area. The flora contains two very special groups, the endemic species of the Gulf of Bothnia and a group of Arctic species in isolation from the main distribution areas of the Arctic Ocean. The breeding and migrating wetland bird fauna is among the richest in Finland. As a result of eutrophication, and decrease of grazing and hay cutting, reeds have increased and the area of coastal meadows has diminished. Intensive hunting prevents the staging of waterfowl during autumn, and there are nearly 50 small boat harbours around the bay. Increased building of holiday cottages, fishing lodges, hunting cabins and roads are causing disturbance. Ramsar site no. 1523.
Olvassuo Mires. 02/02/04; Oulu; 27,073 ha; 65º07'N 027º15'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, Finnish Mire and Esker Conservation Programmes, Strict Nature Reserve and Mire Protection Area. The site represents the mire vegetation region of southern aapa mires as a coherent and extensive area. Sedge fens with flarks and Sphagnum papillosum sedge fens are the most common mire types with nutrient levels varying from raised bogs to rich fens. Alluvial river shores are characterized by meadowy poor fens and spruce mires. Thirteen lakes with several ponds are situated beside the mires, and representative esker formations, wooded dunes and ancient shore banks give variety to the landscape. Most of the coniferous forests are old-growth and dominated by pine. The flora hosts some strongly threatened vascular plants such as Early Marsh-orchid, Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid and Marsh Saxifrage. About 25 bird species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I breed in the area. Restoration of mire areas was carried out under the EU Life project in 1996-99 by filling ditches and cutting trees. In the Strict Nature Reserve visiting is prohibited except for local residents and for purposes of scientific research and education. Ramsar site no. 1524.
Oulanka National Park. 02/02/04; Oulu, Lapland; 29,390 ha; 66º27'N 029º20'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, National Park, Finnish Mire and Esker Conservation Programmes. Representative of the mire vegetation region of main aapa mires of sloping type, which is characterized by deep canyons formed by River Oulankajoki with its tributaries, mires and gently-featured coniferous and herb-rich forests. The Park is rich in small lakes and ponds, extensive sandy areas and rich alluvial meadows. Because of calcareous soil the flora includes more than 23 national threatened and rare vascular plant species such as Crepis tectorum subsp. nigrescens or Arctic Campion species Silene furcata subsp. Angustiflora. Altogether more than 40,000 pairs of about 100 bird species breed in the Park, which also supports wolf, wolverine, brown bear, lynx and otter populations. Reindeer husbandry is an important livelihood in the area and some of the alluvial meadows of rivers were mowed to produce food for wintering. Significant values also include tourism and outdoor recreation with about 150,000 visitors per year. Fish farming operations have changed the abundance ratios of the original fish fauna. Ramsar site no. 1525.
Pernajanlahti Bay. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 1,143 ha; 60º26'N 026º00'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP, Baltic Sea Protected Area, Nationally Important Landscape Area. A narrow, over 10 km long sea bay with numerous islands, one of the longest sea bays on the southern coast of Finland, with a gradually increasing salinity from the two rivers of the estuary to the mouth of the bay. Aquatic vegetation is very abundant and reed zone extensive in the northern parts. Shore areas include coastal meadows and some fine wooded meadows. The bay supports threatened birds including corncrake, crane and Spotted Crake. In the past, the bay has been an important waterway and the earliest settlements date back to the Bronze Age. The western shores are characterized by three medieval manors with traditional cultural characters. Important disturbances are caused by the highway on the northern edge of the bay and a motorboat harbor. A power line crossing the bay causes risk for larger bird species. The conservation of the Natura 2000 site will be carried out including noise reduction measures and management of coastal meadows. Birdwatching is a popular activity during migration periods. Ramsar site no. 1526.
Pilvineva Mires. 02/02/04; Western Finland; 3,667 ha; 63º28'N 023º59'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme, Mire Protection Area. An unusually extensive, unbroken and diverse mire area in Middle Ostrobothniaj, in the middle boreal forest vegetation zone with a valuable wetland bird fauna. The site represents the mire vegetation regions of eccentric bogs and Sphagnum fuscum bogs and of southern aapa mires. During the breeding season the site supports about 19 Europe-threatened bird species, e.g. Black Grouse, Osprey and Red-necked Phalarope, and forms an important habitat for many endangered bird species, such as Bean Goose and Crane, for staging and resting during migration periods. Virgin mires like this area support an important hydrological value while playing an important role in maintenance of water quality. Therefore many strict regulations apply to the site, which is without large public and recreation facilities. Ramsar site no. 1527.
Riisitunturi National Park. 02/02/04; Lapland; 12,461 ha; 66º12'N 028º27'E. Natura 2000 SCI, National Park, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme, Protected Old-Growth Forest. Steep and diverse blanket mires representing the mire vegetation region of Main aapa mires of sloping type. The site is located on the watershed of Maanselkä and the humid climate affects the vegetation, which is exceptionally "maritime" and rich. On the banks of numerous brooks and small rivers, and in the lower parts of hill slopes with springs, there are luxuriant grass-, hay- and fern-rich spruce swamps. The most peculiar mire types are the locally very steep and open blanket mires and hanging bogs, which form the special value of the area. Most of the Park is covered by spruce forests with nearly a hundred small ponds. Threatened species hosted at the site are from both flora, such as the buttercup species Ranunculus lapponicus, and fauna, such as the Golden Eagle, and about 13 species of the EU Bird Directive are breeding on the site. Significant values include environmental education, outdoor recreation, reindeer husbandry and scientific research, for which it is among the most important study areas for research on blanket mires. Ramsar site no. 1528.
River Luiro Mires. 02/02/04; Lapland; 12,345 ha; 67º20'N 027º33'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme. Among the most outstanding mire areas in Finland with extremely diverse mire types and the most extensive unbroken birch fen areas, representative of the mire vegetation region of Main aapa mires of middle and northern types. The area is situated on both sides of River Luiro, characterized by extensive alluvial meadows and alluvial grove forests. Several brooks and small rivers traverse the mires together with small esker formations, and interchanging open-water flarks are typical. Birch fens are typical of Sakkala-aapa in the south, while eccentric bogs constitute the centre and barren aapa mires in the Kairanaapa area eastwards. They are an important breeding and staging area for waterfowl and waders, supporting about 13 species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I, such as Wood Sandpiper, Capercaillie and Ruff. They also provide habitat for threatened mammals such as Brown Bear and otter. The alluvial meadows are slowly turning into forests with the cessation of hay cutting, and some drainage has been carried out on the margins of the mires. Ramsar site no. 1529.
Salamajärvi National Park. 02/02/04; Western Finland; 9,261 ha; 63º15'N 024º45'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, National Park, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme. A complex of mires and water bodies of pristine character, representing the diversity of the aapa mire type. The forests are mostly barren and stony, dominated by pine. Threatened species include the Brown Beak Sedge and Early Marsh-orchid as well as the near-threatened moss species Sphagnum subnitens. Breeding waterfowls are abundant, including more than 400 pairs of 13 wader species, and the site also supports several endangered mammal species such as otter, wolverine and Wild Forest Reindeer, which was re-introduced to the area in the 1970s. Ditches of drained areas, which were dug in the past, are still affecting the quality of running waters in some parts of the site. In 1985 a master plan for the National Park was established, and restoration of mires was carried out under an EU Life project in the 1990s by filling ditches and cutting trees. The different tourist facilities, like accommodation cabins, camping sites, an observation tower and a network of trails, have been accepted very well in recent years. Ramsar site no. 1530.
Sammuttijänkä - Vaijoenjänkä Mires. 02/02/04; Lapland; 51,749 ha; 69º25'N 027º30'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Wilderness Area, Mire Protection Area. Finland's largest continuous mire area in natural state, formed by northern aapa mires. The palsa mires are extensive and well developed, changing gradually into aapa mires. Wide areas of rounded hummocks, riverbank willow growths, wet flark fens and rich fens are characteristic of these mires. Areas of rounded hummocks are divided by kilometer-long stretches of mesotrophic sedge fens or by rich fens without ridges. The area is rich in pools, ponds and lakes, of which the largest cover about 170 ha. It is among the most valuable breeding areas of waterfowl and waders in Fjeld Lapland. Reindeer husbandry with up to 10,000 reindeer is an important livelihood in the area. Hunting is permitted to local residents, as are fishing and picking of mushrooms and berries. Acid deposition has weakened the buffering capacity of lakes and ponds, and hunting has negative effects on the site, but a management and land use plan will be established in the near future. Ramsar site no. 1531.
Siikalahti Bay Area. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 682 ha; 61º33'N 029º33'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, WHCP. Three separate areas situated in the northeastern corner of Southern Finland just 5 km west of Russian border. Siikalahti and Rautalahti are inlets of Lake Simpelejärvi; Sammallampi is a small lake with an outlet to the same lake. These are characterized by extensive growths of Common Reed and thereby in the process of overgrowing, in a transitional stage in the succession of water ecosystems, with the vegetation and bird fauna most diverse and richest at the present stage. Siikalahti Bay is the most valuable bird-lake in Finland as habitat for many threatened bird species. The ecological character of the site is affected negatively by rapid overgrowth as a result of eutrophication. Regulations of water levels and drainage ditches caused a decrease of wetland species in southern parts to one third of previous numbers; nonetheless, the area is very appreciated for environmental education, birdwatching and outdoor recreation activities. Ramsar site no. 1532.
Sotkavuoma Mire. 02/02/04; Lapland; 2,602 ha; 68º20'N 023º16'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme. Lake Sotkajärvi is the most valuable bird-lake in Northern Lapland as a breeding, molting and staging area. Migrating waterfowl favour it as a staging area and in autumn several hundreds of e.g. Wigeons, Tufted Ducks, Goldeneyes and Goosanders can be observed with tens of e.g. Whooper Swans, Bean Geese and Smews. The site represents the mire vegetation region of northern aapa mires, typically very wet and non-forested. The vegetation zones of several small ponds and two lakes are very extensive with sedge meadows and growths of water horsetail dominating. Reindeer husbandry is an important livelihood in the surrounding areas and is permitted also in the Mire Protection Area. As it is a rather wet area the livestock numbers are not high. Hunting of waterfowl occurs in some amount in autumn and has negative effects on the site. Forestry, ditching, extraction of earth material and damaging of soil or bedrock, and construction of new buildings and roads are prohibited in the Mire Protection Area. In general there are no significant numbers of visitors on the site. Ramsar site no. 1533.
Suurenaukeansuo - Isosuo Mires and Lake Pohjalampi. 02/02/04; Eastern Finland; 1,640 ha; 62º10'N 027º03'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, Mire Conservation and WHCP. The site represents the mire vegetation region of eccentric bogs and Sphagnum fuscum bogs. It is composed mainly of oligotrophic pine bogs and poor fens, including several Sphagnum fuscum-type raised bogs with diverse and representative vegetation. The mires are restricted to the unmodified River Naarajoki with rich alluvial meadows and dense growths of Yellow Flag. Pohjalampi is a small lake in the south, characterized by extensive growths of water horsetail and sedge meadows on shores. About eleven species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I breed in the area, including Black-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Osprey, Golden Plover and Wood Sandpiper. The site also provides habitat for the lynx and otter as well as the dragonfly species Ophiogomphus cecilia. Drainage ditches have diminished the natural condition of mires in eastern parts. Overall there are no significant land use activities or visitors, which raises the site's value as an undisturbed place for wildlife. Ramsar site no. 1534.
Teuravuoma - Kivijärvenvuoma Mires. 02/02/04; Lapland; 5,788 ha; 67º20'N 024º05'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, Finnish Mire Conservation Programme, Protected Primeval Forest Area. The most representative mire complex in western Lapland and an important protection area of rich fens and the largest unbroken aapa mire in the area of River Tornionjoki. A major part of the mires consists of representative grass or flark fens. Sphagnum fuscum bogs with spruce and poor pine bogs occur on margins, traversed by small rivers, and there are three small lakes and numerous ponds. The mires are an important area for breeding birds, including several threatened species such as Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle and Merlin, and it provides habitat for scarce species including. Whooper Swan, Hen Harrier and Osprey as well as many waterfowl and waders during the migration period. Reindeer husbandry is an important livelihood in the surrounding areas and also permitted in the Mire Protection Area. Hunting, fishing and picking of mushrooms and berries are permitted. Apart from these uses the area has few visitors and is untouched by tourist activities. The alluvial meadows are in the process of overgrowing because of diminished hay cutting. Ramsar site no. 1535.
Torronsuo National Park. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 3,093 ha; 60º44'N 023º37'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, National Park. The largest mire area still in natural state in Southern Finland, including a complex of five interconnected active raised bogs, bog woodland and pools. The middle parts are characterized by ombrotrophic, pine and hollow bogs. Wet fenny strips alternate with elongated dry hummocks, together with hundreds of small pools. Sedge fens and shrub-pine swamps occur on edges of mires and of forested islands. Only small areas of forest with mineral soil occur in the National Park. The site supports a valuable wetland bird fauna and is an important staging area for Cranes during migration periods, peak counts reaching 1,000 individuals in autumn. The lowering of water level and nutrients leaching from surrounding fields have caused eutrophication and overgrowing of Lake Talpianjärvi, which has been reduced by drainage to a marsh. Restoration of mires was carried out under an EU Life project in 1996-99 in an area of 150 ha. The wetland provides significant services such as maintenance of water quality, environmental education, scientific research, outdoor recreation and birdwatching. Ramsar site no. 1536.
Valkmusa National Park. 02/02/04; Southern Finland; 1,710 ha; 60º34'N 026º40'E. Natura 2000 SCI, Finnish Mire and Esker Conservation Programmes, National Park. A large and varied mire complex including more than 1,400 ha of mires with numerous small ponds, flarks and small forested islands. It consists of two nearby areas: the Munasuo Mire, a raised plateau bog, and the Kananiemensuo Mire composed of several mire types. The site is an especially valuable habitat for threatened and near-threatened butterfly species. The name Valkmusa comes from the Swedish for Falcon Moss, but the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) disappeared from the southern parts of its breeding range in Finland in the 1960s due to the use of toxic chemicals. Virgin mires play an important role in maintenance of water quality. Significant values include outdoor recreation and birdwatching. The general land use in the catchment area is shaped mainly by private forestry and agriculture. Drainage ditches nearby may negatively affect the site. A management and land use plan for the National Park has been elaborated but not yet implemented. Ramsar site no. 1537.
Vassorfjärden Bay. 02/02/04; Western Finland; 1,537 ha; 63º12'N 021º59'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, WHCP. Vassorfjärden Bay, formed by the River Kyrönjoki, is one of the largest estuaries in Finland, with a large shallow water zone because of silt brought by the river. The reed zone is very extensive. Shores are diverse with silt-rocky and turf shores and extensive sedge meadows. Because of sedimentation and land upheaval the vegetation is in a continuous process of change. The wetland is for the most part surrounded by forests and on the northwestern side by agricultural land. It is an important breeding and staging area for waterfowl and waders during migration and molting periods and provides habitat for the threatened Russian Flying Squirrel. Dredging of boating channels, embankment creation and acid waters leaking from embankments have destroyed vegetation in many places, and the wetland area has diminished by hundreds of hectares. The former significance as an important spawning area has weakened as fish and bottom fauna have disappeared in certain areas. The eastern shores are densely built and a main road crosses the southern edge of the bay. Nonetheless, birdwatching remains a significant activity. Ramsar site no. 1538.
Veneneva - Pelso Mires. 02/02/04; Oulu; 12,039 ha; 64º28'N 026º10'E. Natura 2000 SPA, SCI, Mire Conservation Programme, Strict Nature Reserve. An extensive unit of various types of aapa mire complexes representing the mire vegetation region of Southern aapa mires, constituted of extensive flark fens and pine bogs typical of Ostrobothnia aapa mires. Spruce mires and patches of rich fens also occur in the area. For the most part the mire types are mesotrophic and oligotrophic. The waters consist of small ponds and headwaters of rivers. In the middle of mires there are barren esker formations which are in the process of changing into mires. Virgin aapa mires play an important role in the maintenance of water quality and in flood control, and in some aapa mires restoration was carried out in the 1980s. The breeding wetland bird fauna is valuable, including about 14 species of the EU Birds Directive Annex I. In the Strict Nature Reserve visiting is prohibited except for scientific research and education purposes. Under the EU Life Nature project in 2002-2007, restoration of forests will be carried out in an area of 180 hectares. Ramsar site no. 1539.
Two significant extensions of existing sites
Koitelainen Mires. 28/05/74; Lapland; 48,938 ha [extended from 38,840 ha]; 67º46'N 027º10'E; Natura 2000 SPA and SCI; Old-Growth Forests protected area. One of the most representative aapa mire areas in Central Lapland, an important conservation area for fauna and flora species because of the untouched wilderness and the extremely watery bogs.Extremely wet flark fens and minerotrophic birch-rich aapa mires are typical of the area. Herb- and grass-rich spruce mires and growths of willows occur along the brooks. The area is important for numerous species of breeding waterbirds and waders, some of which are rare, such as Peregrine Falcon, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle and Red-throated Diver. Reindeer husbandry is an important livelihood in the area, but is in danger of overgrazing, and hunting may have negative effects on the site, which is quite untouched from visitors and without any facilities. Ore open-mining operations are planned nearby to begin in 2007. Ramsar site no. 12.
Quark Archipelago. 28/05/74; Western Finland; 63,699 ha [formerly Valassaaret and Björkögrunden Archipelago, 16,730 ha]; 63º26'N 021º25'E. Natura 2000 SPA and SCI, Baltic Sea Protected Area, Shore Conservation Programme. Situated in the narrowest and shallowest area of the Gulf of Bothnia at the northern limit for many marine species, such as Eider and Blue Mussel. The archipelago bird fauna is exceptionally rich, e.g., more than 1,700 pairs of Arctic Tern and 3,800 pairs of Black Guillemot are breeding at the site. Shallow waters are important staging areas for waterfowl during migration and molting periods, and the archipelago is habitat for the endangered Grey Seal. The outer archipelago is composed of several groups of islands divided by shallow open sea areas, and the Valassaaret Islands are characterized by Storskär Island surrounded by about 80 small, nearly treeless and stony islands and islets. Because of strong land upheaval, virgin shores, such as coastal meadows and natural forests in primary succession stages, are relatively quickly born. Treeless islets are abundant and morainic ridges are broad. The main threats for the site are damage through oil pollution, followed by notable impacts of the American Mink in bird colonies. The Valassaaret Biological Station on Ebbskär Island is a bird monitoring station and an education site. Significantly extended in February 2004 from the Valassaaret & Björkögrunden Ramsar site. Ramsar site no. 6.