A Boreal Ecological Corridor Secured With Critical Support From QRFN: Carbon Sinks and Biodiversity Protected

Sweat-drenched, walking on Siltaneva mire at 32 C in Mid-Summer, sun does not set in the boreal north. Insects, gadflies, mosquitoes are out in full force, the Finnish air force so to speak… 

Our Landscape Rewilding team is taking stock of a recently acquired ecological corridor connecting key habitats. Siltaneva is a major carbon stabilisation area in the European North that was secured with the help of QRFN. A safe haven for birds and endangered forest deer, in midsummer the Siltaneva is in bloom with Arctic Cloudberries…

This local intact home of the boreal birds, plants, animals, insects, and mammals was just purchased from the open real-estate market and placed into a community-led conservation area. It will now be protected for perpetuity, secured for future generations, the climate, and biodiversity.

In summer 2020 the Landscape Rewilding Programme of Snowchange, based in Finland, entered into talks to secure a boreal (northern) Oravasuo-Siltaneva-Rasinneva peatland ecological corridor in Ähtäri. It totals over 670 hectares (over 1650 acres) and positively influences major boreal habitats through interconnection.

The corridor itself is 66 hectares and was slated for peat mining, which would have destroyed these marshmires completely. In fact, the ecological corridor connects conserved old growth forest habitat with Maaherransuo, an internationally relevant Nature 2000 site of 418 hectares. Maaherransuo (Marshmire of the Governor) is an internationally important aapa mire, a major bird habitat, and home of the critically endangered Finnish forest deer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus).

Boreal and Arctic peatlands are identified as critical sites where additional conservation is needed for the global climate and biodiversity due to their role as carbon sinks and wildlife hotspots (for example see Dinerstein et al. 2020). 

Landscape Rewilding Programme entered into the process of securing this crucial ecological corridor from the open markets in June 2020. We soon came to realize that a third part of the corridor, Siltaneva marshmire, would also become available, but the original budget allocated for these sites would not be enough.

Snowchange then reached out to QRFN to see if an international collaboration would be a solution to the issue. Working fast and effectively, QRFN informed us that we could work together to complete the land purchases and save Siltaneva from open markets and threats of industrial land uses. 

All actions were completed by the end of July. The boreal (northern) Oravasuo-Siltaneva-Rasinneva peatland ecological corridor now connects the OGF sites to the Maaherranneva Nature 2000 site and allows for critical interconnectivity. All of the interconnected sites are on their own major carbon stabilisation areas as sinks, bird habitats, water protection locations, and are crucial to the local Finnish communities. 

Traditional hunting, berry picking and nourishment is now secured and Snowchange will work with the local communities to see if they will be registered as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas under the UNEP ICCA Registry.

Landscape Rewilding Programme is extremely thankful to the QRFN for stepping in and securing these sites for conservation and for alleviating harmful climate change. 

Authored by Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative