Lohja P7, 24.07.2001 © Tapio Heikilä/ Visuaalinen maisemaseuranta/ MTT:n arkisto

Traditional rural biotopes

The visual monitoring of traditional rural biotopes in the regions of Uusimaa and Pirkanmaa started in 2001. In this section we present photographs from 18 traditional rural biotopes.

Click any symbol on the map to view photos from the selected location. The survey method is described in more detail in Photographing traditional rural biotopes.

Traditional rural biotopes include meadows, pastures and grazed woodlands, which were formed by traditional agriculture and especially animal grazing. By definition, cultivated fields or fallows are not regarded as traditional biotopes.

From an aesthetic point of view, traditional rural biotopes are often considered the most beautiful part of the Finnish countryside. Moreover, they are important for the cultural identity and wellbeing of the local community.

The remaining traditional rural biotopes are nowadays often reduced to small-sized parcels, but nonetheless they are essential for the country’s biodiversity. Numerous endangered species of plants, insects and fungi are dependent on them. Traditional rural biotopes also belong to the most endangered habitat types in Finland. Preserving the remaining traditional rural biotopes has become one of Finland’s most difficult conservation issues.

Traditional rural biotopes declined in Finland sharply in the early 1900s, in the course of the rapid development of agricultural technology. Nowadays only a few percent of the previous one million hectares of semi-natural grasslands and wooded pastures remain. This is far less than what can be found in for example our neighbouring country Sweden.

Maintaining the traditional rural biotopes is based on continuous grazing or mowing, which enables the numerous species of open habitats to flourish. After the management of these habitats has ended, the flowering plants are soon replaced by grasses and bushes. Eventually the former meadow will turn into a closed forest, and all of its natural, aesthetical and cultural values are being lost.