Environmental groups complain to EU about state of Finnish swamps
Groups say swamp strategy does not help fight reduction of diversity of wetland species
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and BirdLife Finland say that Finland is in violation of the European Union’s directive on nature by neglecting the protection of species and habitats in Finnish wetlands.
The two organisations have filed a complaint on the matter to the European Commission.
The groups also say that Finland has not managed to prevent the decline of bird species living in swampland.
The organisations reported on their complaints on Tuesday while sharply criticising the national swamp strategy, which has been under preparation for a long time, and which is to be handed to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre Party).
The aim of the strategy is to draw up a common stand on the sustainable and varied use of wetlands and wetland nature, which takes into consideration the protection of the diversity of nature, the future of the use of peat for the production of energy, and climate policy goals.
One of those participating in the drafting of the proposed strategy is Risto Sulkava, chairman of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. He feels that the strategy failed, and is submitting a dissenting opinion to the report.
He notes that the strategy does not propose legislative changes for the protection of undrained swamps.
He also feels that it is short-sighted that the strategy makes it possible, in his words, “to continue burning peat on the basis of national decisions endlessly”.
The association points to the high carbon dioxide emissions from the use of peat as a fuel, and says that the continued extraction of peat is in violation of existing climate agreements.
The use of peat in the production of transport fuel is also seen as unsustainable for the climate. The association calculates that the greenhouse gas emissions from peat diesel would be twice as great as with the current petroleum-based fuels.
Sulkava feels that the millions of euros of subsidies that the peat industry gets could instead be channelled into the protection and restoration of swamps, both of which have been left out of the programme, owing to time constraints.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Big row brewing over peat bogs (10.1.2011)
State-run energy company VAPÓs advertising campaign for peat faces stiff criticism from environmentalists (20.4.2010)
International Energy Agency criticises Finnish peat subsidies (27.3.2008)