Europe and Central Asia
16 Feb 2016

Almost half of all Finnish birds are in danger

The Tufted Duck is a waterbird whose Finnish population has sharply declined in recent times. Photo: Michael Finn
By Sanya Khetani-Shah and Teemu Lehtiniemi

Forty-five percent of all Finnish breeding birds are endangered.

This is the analysis of the latest assessment of the Red List of Birds for Finland, published in January. Of the 245 Finnish breeding species evaluated, 87 (36%) are Threatened and 23 (9%) are Near Threatened. Of the Threatened species, 13 (5%) are Critically Endangered, 36 (16%) are Endangered, and 38 (16%) are Vulnerable.

The numbers have gone up from the last evaluation: In 2010, 59 species (24%) were Threatened and 30 (13%) were Near Threatened. This time, 110 species (45% of all Finnish breeding species) are on the Red List, up from 89 (about 36%) in 2010 and 72 in 2000. The major causes of these species’ population declines are habitat changes in breeding areas and stopover sites on migratory routes. 

The state of water and wetland birds is the most concerning. Half of the Finnish breeding waterbirds and nearly half of the waders are now threatened. Populations of the Tufted Duck, Garganey, Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail have decreased sharply in the last decades.

Wetlands are important for birds not only for breeding: they are essential migration stopover sites for many waterfowl, waders and passerines. However, poor management of many of these sites due to lack of funding makes them less favourable for birds. BirdLife Finland has for many years asked Finnish government to act for better management of protected wetlands, but with little success.

The situation is alarming not only for conservationists and birdwatchers, but also for hunters. Eleven out of the 17 game waterbirds in Finland are now red-listed because of a decline in population: six are Endangered, four are Vulnerable and one is Near Threatened. The number of species which can be hunted sustainably in Finland has collapsed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

However, it’s not all doom-and-gloom. Species being protected by ongoing targeted conservation actions are showing positive changes in their numbers. For example, populations of the Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and White-backed Woodpecker have been increasing, and the small population of the Baltic Dunlin is now stable, thanks to conservation actions in main breeding sites. The state of birds in wetlands with good management and funding is also better than in those with lack of funding.

All these results show that the Finnish government has not done enough to halt the loss of biodiversity. Halting the increasingly worsening condition of bird species and nature in general calls for greater consideration for biodiversity in activities such as agriculture, forestry, land use planning and recreational activities. We also need better management of protected areas. This can only come from increased funding and the political will to restore the wetland birds to good status. 

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.