An unpolluted environment is considered the norm and Finns put a great deal of effort into safeguarding the environment. Finland has a long tradition of nature conservation and conservation areas of various kinds have been set up.
The first species was protected in Finland as long ago as 1923, and the first nature reserves were designated in 1932. Currently there are 19 nature reserves, where access is subject to a permit, and 35 national parks, intended for protection of nature and biodiversity, research and recreational purposes.
Finland has achieved nature conservation success in recent years in cases of animals and birds that were formerly hunted or harassed. The national bird, the whooper swan, has become much more widespread in recent decades, for instance.
Finland has been rated among the world’s leading countries in many international comparisons of environmental protection standards, such as the Global Economic Forum’s regularly compiled Environmental Sustainability Index. Wide-ranging and detailed environmental data as well as high levels of technological skill form the basis of Finland’s effective environmental protection policies.
The fruits of successful environmental policies are clearly visible around the country: many polluted rivers and lakes have been cleaned up; air quality has improved greatly in industrial locations; and an extensive network of protected areas has been built up to safeguard biodiversity. Forests are managed more sensibly than in the past, and the overall growth rate clearly exceeds the total timber harvest. Emissions from large industrial facilities have been cut down significantly.
Wood production has always been an important branch of Finnish industry. In recent decades the amount of wood harvested has been clearly below the amount grown, which means that wood resources keep growing. Even with the high number of papers mills, in recent years inland waterways have been in good condition.