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Evo Forest - Awareness-raising and protection of Southern Finalnd forest biotopes (Evo)
Date du début: 1 mai 2002, Date de fin: 30 sept. 2005 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background The Evo forest area is one of southern Finland's most important remaining predominantly natural forest areas. In total, Evo, which has been left quite homogeneous and intact, covers over 20,000 hectares, 7,860 of which were included in the Natura 2000 network. It is famous for its forests, but mires, bogs and lakes also form a significant part of the landscape. An exceptionally long history of large-scale burning has added its own characteristic stamp to the area. The flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) is an established resident of the area with six to ten pairs, as is the otter (Lutra lutra) with one to five pairs. Evo is the only place in Finland where the Annex II Habitats Directive beetle, Cucujus cinnaberinus can be found. Bird species found in Evo worth mentioning include 15-20 pairs of the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), 90-110 wood grouse (Tetrao urogallus), 10-20 pairs of black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) and one to five pairs of the red-throated diver (Gavia stellata). Each year over 50,000 hikers visit the forests which also boast a tradition of scientific research going back over 100 years. The problems affecting it included the lack of an overall management and conservation plan, the paucity of dead wood in the commercial forests, changes to the natural state of mires and running waters and the general lack of information on the values of this Natura 2000 area. Objectives The LIFE-Nature project aimed to draw up a long-term conservation plan for the Natura 2000 area and to initiate its implementation. This plan would look to take into account and accommodate the diverse forms of land use in the area in close cooperation with the various interest groups. Although 90 percent of the area is already owned by the state, the project targeted the purchase of 170 ha of key land. This would enable the geographic scope of the habitat restoration work to stretch to around 300 ha. The project planned to prepare a GIS-based nature database, from which both hikers and researchers could access data on nature in Evo by using their mobile telephones. It sought to help train nature tourism entrepreneurs and produce teaching materials on Evo's Natura 2000 values for schools. It also planned to feature interesting ‘themes-of-the-month’ on its website. Results The project succeeded in purchasing important forest land, developing a management plan and starting its implementation through restoration work. It also provided much improved information and guidance on the natural importance of the area. For nature conservation purposes, a 132.5 ha land parcel was purchased from the forest company UPM-Kymmene. This land contained 51 ha of mature forest and 3 ha of other biotopes of the Habitats Directive. The purchase increased the existing Evo Natura conservation area by one-fifth. A ten-year management plan for the whole Evo Natura 2000 area of 7,860 ha was developed in co-operation and consultation with other organisations operating in the area. The plan included information on the habitats in Evo and set guidelines on how the area can be utilized and managed in the future so that its natural value will not be endangered. The project planted 11,000 aspen (Populus tremula), 345 lime (Tilia cordata) and 173 goat willow (Salix caprea) saplings in a combined area of around 14 ha. Iron and wood fences were used to protect a total of 3.8 ha from browsing by animals. To encourage the nesting of flying squirrels, over 100 artificial houses were hung in the Evo area - within a year, a flying squirrel was found in one of the houses. The project removed young individuals of exotic tree species such as Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) that were not conducive to the restoration efforts. Forest fires were imitated by the burning of seven small spruce- or pine-dominated stands totalling around 20 ha. This provided more than 1,000 m³ of charred wood, so essential for certain rare species. Also, around 6,000 trees were felled or girdled in an area of 100 ha to provide fallen and decaying wood for saproxylic species. Other measures included the draining and blocking up of 100 spruce swamps and the restoration of 320 m of rapids in Keltaoja Brook. The project website provides an Evo nature guide covering themes such as geology, water, forests, mires and threatened species. It also presents maps and slide shows of the natural environment to be found at Evo and learning packs for schools.


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