Finland is surrounded by the Baltic Sea and a quarter of the country lies above the Arctic Circle. It boasts Europe’s largest forest cover of 23 million ha (75% of the national territory). Water bodies, mainly lakes which number some 190,000, account for a further 10% of land area. Finland’s 180,000 islands make it Europe’s largest archipelago.
The 1886 Forest Act was the first of its kind, pre-dating even the Swedish Forestry Act (Skogsvårdslagen) of 1903. It mandates replanting of every forested area.
Household waste recycling has been in place for 20 years and 80% of packaging is reused. To encourage continued recycling, the Helsinki Environment Centre organises composting information sessions.
In this fairly flat country, slow-moving waterways are exposed to all types of pollution. Phosphates and fertilisers have already damaged some Baltic coastal areas. Rational, organic agriculture practices have yet to be implemented.
Energy: the country has no coal, oil, or natural gas reserves. Hydroelectric generating capacity is low, and wind power accounts for only 1% of electricity production. If the Generation III (EPR) nuclear reactor is opened in Olkiluoto as planned in 2011, nuclear will rise to 35% of the energy mix. In the meantime, renewable energy sources are gaining ground and the percentage of domestic electricity generated by biomass fuel (wood-burning), which currently supplies 20% of the country’s needs, should double.
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (SLL) is the country’s largest environmental protection group.