11.9% of Finland’s wildlife is threatened. What can we do as private citizens?

A recent estimate of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) places 11.9% of all species endemic to Finland in the category of ‘threatened’ (IUCN Red List categories VU, EN, CR), which marks an increase of 1.4% since the last assessment carried out in 2009. The report – which at the time of writing is not available in its entirety – notes that threats to species range from climate change, exploitation to, particularly, habitat loss.

The situation is particularly dire for vascular plant species in the northern Finnish fell areas, where 62% of all species are included in the Red List (in Finnish here). More than ever, the report calls for urgent action to prevent further biodiversity loss. While on the one hand concrete conservation efforts are highlighted, it is also called for more comprehensive assessments when dealing with land use. This means, any kind of land or resource use should take into account effects on biodiversity in its various forms.

View from Ounasvaara, Rovaniemi © Nikolas Sellheim

I believe it should even go further: municipal governments should encourage land owners to learn more about the natural environment and to learn about the different plant and animal species abundant on private and corporate lands. But also private persons who don’t own land, but who spend time in the great outdoors could invest a few minutes each day to study what is there, what is not, but what should be there, and what is there but shouldn’t. In other words, the more we know about our environment, the more we can understand change. And this helps us reduce our own impacts and helps governments to understand the concerns of citizens.

The Finnish NatureGate website is an extremely helpful tool in this regard, offering crucial information on Finnish species in several languages. Let’s not just rely on our governments, but rather look at our immediate surroundings!

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