FRESHABIT - Towards integrated management of freshwater Nature 2000 sites and habitats

LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Jari Ilmonen
Tel: 358 40 831 8307
Email: jari.ilmonen@metsa.fi

Project description:


Freshwater habitats are among the most threatened habitat types globally. In the 2007-2012 conservation status assessment of the EU Habitats Directive (Article 17), none of the freshwater, coastal, and groundwater dependent wetland habitats in Europe fully met favourable conservation status, and most are in unfavourable conservation status. Almost 50% of European water bodies are failing to achieve the environmental objectives set by the Water Framework Directive in 2015. In Finland, the conservation status of most freshwater habitats has been assessed as ‘unfavourable’.

Freshwater habitats are often altered by human activity, such as land reclamation, water-borne traffic and hydropower production, and degraded by eutrophication and hydromorphological changes in water bodies and their catchments. Climate change poses further risks for freshwater, via changes in evapotranspiration, the growing demand for freshwater resources, and through changes in nutrient leaching and habitat suitability.

European freshwater-related directives have a common goal of protecting and regulating the use of the freshwater environment. To ensure future sustainable use of freshwater wetland systems, implementation of the multiple directives controlling ecosystem services, biodiversity, cultural heritage and renewable energy need to be harmonised. Actions are also needed to enhance catchment-level and cross-sectional cooperation among different administrative and operational actors and institutes, such as public administrations implementing the Water Framework Directive, the administrative bodies involved in implementing the Habitats and Birds directives, NGOs and the private sector.


FRESHABIT focuses on fresh- and groundwater dependent habitats, coastal and estuarine habitats and species depending on water in several Natura 2000 network sites across Finland. The project aims to develop new methodology and indicators for assessing the conservation status of freshwater habitats. It further aims to improve the ecological status, management, and sustainable use of these habitats, by developing networks and operational models, and testing them in selected catchments. The project will enhance capacity building, by setting up coordination structures and pathways that enable the full implementation of the prioritised action framework (PAF) and other environmental policies. By improving multisectoral cooperation, FRESHABIT aims to develop new model frameworks and operational models to facilitate long-lasting results.

The main objectives of FRESHABIT are to:

  • Build coordination structures, models and networks for integrated planning, implementation and monitoring schemes for directives related to freshwater management, and to demonstrate these in eight regional networks of Natura 2000 sites;
  • Improve the conservation, management, and sustainable use of freshwater habitats and related resources by enhancing cooperation among administrative and operational actors, particularly by emphasising private-public partnerships;
  • Improve the conservation and ecological status of freshwater habitats and related species in selected regional networks by habitat restoration;
  • Develop and demonstrate methodology related to assessment, modeling and monitoring of freshwater habitats, ecosystem services and cultural heritage;
  • Develop biodiversity and ecosystem service indicators serving both national and international monitoring and policy needs; and
  • Enhance sustainable use of freshwater resources by integrating conservation approaches in ecosystem-based entrepreneurship and to improve environmental awareness.

In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of €4 320 773 of complementary funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and national and private funds, as applicable.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater


freshwater ecosystem‚  protected area

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Metsähallitus, Natural Heritage Services
Type of organisation National authority
Description Metsähallitus (MH) – Parks & Wildlife Finland – is a public authority responsible for nature conservation in Finland. It manages and controls more than seven million hectares of state-owned land, and marine and freshwater areas, and is responsible for their habitats and species. These include protected areas, northern wilderness reserves, national hiking areas and state-owned public waters.
Partners Finnish Environment Institute, Finland University of Jyväskylä, Finland Natural Resources Institute Finland Finnish Forest Centre, Finland Geological Survey of Finland Maailman Luonnon Säätiö - World Wide Fund for Nature - Suomen rahasto, Finland Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Finland Finnish Society for Nature and Environment, Finland DocArt Ky, Finland University of Oulu, Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland Länsi-Uudenmaan Vesi ja Ympäristö ry, Finland Raseborgs stad/Raaseporin kaupunki, Finland Vanajavesi Foundation, Finland University of Helsinki - Lammi Biological Station, Finland Etelä-Hämeen luonnonsuojelupiiri ry, Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, Finland Suomen luonnonsuojeluliiton Pohjanmaan piiri ry, Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Central Finland JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland Vattenfall Oy, Finland Suomen luonnonsuojeliiton Keski-Suomen piiri ry, Finland Saarijärven kaupunki, Finland The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment - South Savo, Finland Pro Puruvesi ry, Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in North Savo, Finland The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment - North Karelia, Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland, Finland Ministry of the Environment, Finland


Project reference LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023
Duration 01-JAN-2016 to 30-SEP -2022
Total budget 24,431,249.00 €
EU contribution 11,976,286.00 €
Project location Uusimaa(Finland Suomi),Varsinais-Suomi(Finland Suomi),Häme(Finland Suomi),Etelä-Savo(Finland Suomi),Pohjois-Karjala(Finland Suomi),Keski-Suomi(Finland Suomi),Etelä-Pohjanmaa(Finland Suomi),Keski-Pohjanmaa(Finland Suomi),Lappi(Finland Suomi)


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