Zonation supporting the implementation of METSO Forest Biodiversity Programme

Forest patch on a flark fen © Aarno Torvinen

In METSO forest biodiversity programme a conservation planning software Zonation has been used for better decision-making while enabling cost-efficient targeting of forest conservation, restoration, and management. Therein, it has been used to identify forest habitats that potentially have high biodiversity values and are also well-connected to other forest sites and nature conservation areas (Mikkonen et al. 2018).

Zonation is a conservation planning framework and software. It was designed at the University of Helsinki. It analyses mostly spatial data and produces information on the distribution of, e.g., biodiversity values as prioritization maps and changes in in their performance between different areas.

The Zonation experts at the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) produce data for prioritization analyses, run the actual Zonation analyses, and process the results to a form that can be utilized by stakeholders. At the beginning, the focus has been on forest and mire habitats for which good-quality data are available, but Zonation analysis have been done also covering the Finnish coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. Sykes Zonation experts are also involved in the training of local METSO actors on usage of the results together with a broad co-operation network and several interest groups.

Conservation value prioritizations of Finnish forests have been produced since 2008. The latest version was made in 2018. Its results are openly available for the first time with CC BY 4.0 Licence. The data can be used for example as an additional information in land use planning on regional or local scale. It can also be used to support the METSO programme, which promotes voluntary conservation of forests. However, the prioritization maps do not remove the need for field work locally. The maps and their data sources are not automatically updated, and thus it is highly recommended to update the information with available complementing data.

The work continues with

  1. updating the method and the maps for a next version
  2. integrated conservation prioritizations of peatlands and forest areas in Finland and
  3. integrated conservation prioritizations of forest biodiversity and climate change mitigation (see IBC-Carbon webpage).

Zonation experts at Syke

Ninni Mikkonen and Niko Leikola are the main experts at Syke in Zonation, especially in the analyses concerning forest habitats and conservation prioritization in METSO.

Kaisu Aapala and Seppo Tuominen promote the use of Zonation in mire conservation and peatland restoration, and work in close contact with the METSO Programme.


Published 2021-11-26 at 15:45, updated 2024-03-26 at 14:35
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