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Protection and usage of aapa mires with a rich avifauna (Aapa & Avi)
Date du début: 1 nov. 2000, Date de fin: 31 oct. 2005 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background Bogs are an important element in the Finnish countryside. Their ecological and regional diversity in terms of both species and natural habitat types is greater in Finland than in any other area of the same size in the world. The central Lapland aapa mire zone forms a broad belt of wetland areas from east to west in northern Finland. It is important both as a nesting area for birds and as a resting and feeding area for migrating and moulting birds. Among the species nesting in the 48,200 ha covered by the LIFE project are 1,800 pairs of wood sandpipers (Tringa clareola), 400 pairs of ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) and 180 pairs of golden plovers (Pluvialis apricaria). The area is also home to large predators: some 20 bears (Ursus arctos), 10 or so wolves (Canis lupus), and about five wolverines (Gulo gulo). Of the plant species listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive, Hamatocaulis lapponicus, Ranunculus lapponicus and Saxifraga hirculus grow in the area. Objectives The aim of the project was to prepare conservation and management plans for five areas within the central Lapland aapa mire zone, so that ecotourism and recreational use can be organised on a sustainable basis. The plans were to be drawn up in conjunction with the local people, providing an opportunity to work on improving attitudes that stand in the way of nature conservation. The project also aimed to organise an international ecotourism seminar. In addition, there would be restoration work on the natural habitats that have been degraded by drainage and felling. About 80% of the total project area was already in state ownership, but in order to have comprehensive management of the area, the private land remaining in the restoration areas would be purchased. Results The management plans for the five project areas were approved by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. More than 6,300 ha of land was acquired for nature conservation purposes and a further 225 ha leased on a five-year contract. Some 80 ha of mires, 15 ha of wet meadows and ha of forest was restored by the LIFE project. As a result of the project, the threat to herb-rich forests caused by invading spruces was evaluated and eliminated from key sites. The increase in decaying wood and controlled burning has created a continuum of suitable habitats for species dependent on fire and decaying wood, which will be maintained through the implementation of the restoration plan. The project has established and initiated a very thorough monitoring scheme for studying the effects of the restoration actions. The monitoring system includes nearly 350 monitoring sites, where data on the effects on forest structure, vascular plants, potential forest damaging insects (Ips typographus and Tomicus sp.), macrophytes and soil of the slash-and-burn areas were collected before and after the restoration actions. The monitoring methods, background and preliminary results were compiled in three monitoring reports. The preliminary results showed that several rare mushroom species prefer the controlled burned forests - the number of individuals of Ips typographus was slightly higher in controlled burning areas than control areas. The ecological effects of the restoration actions cannot be assessed based on one-to-two years of monitoring. The beneficiary will continue the monitoring actions after the project for five-to-10 years in order to make more reliable conclusions on the ecological effects of the restoration actions. In addition the data collected in the project have been used in several other research projects by the beneficiary. Several Directive plant and bird species were found within the project areas. For the meadow plan, the beneficiary carried out a butterfly inventory. Very good public relations and dissemination work, including more than 90 newspaper articles, television and radio coverage, a photo exhibition and television and public information meetings, increased local people’s confidence in Natura 2000 and nature conservation in general. A sign of the international recognition of the project: Dr Johan Goldhammer of the Global Fire Monitoring Centre in Freiburg, Germany published information the slash-and-burn plan on the organisation’s website. Koli National Park also made good parallel use of other EU funding (structural funds used for recreational facilities and social funds for developing of the nature tourism related to the mires). This project has been selected as one of the 26 "Best" LIFE Nature projects in 2007-2008.


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