University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 26 Jan 2018 Conservation of traditional rural biotopes in Finland. A social-ecological approach (Raatikainen)

Start date: Jan 26, 2018 12:00 PM

End date: Jan 26, 2018 03:00 PM

Location: Ylistönrinne

Kaisa RaatikainenM.Sc. Kaisa Raatikainen defends her doctoral dissertation in Ecology "Conservation of traditional rural biotopes in Finland. A social-ecological approach." Opponent Professor Joern Fischer (Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany) and Custos Docent Panu Halme (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

This research focuses on conservation of traditional rural biotopes, which are biodiverse meadows and wood-pastures that are dependent on management through grazing or mowing. These low-intensity management actions have become rare as a result of agricultural modernisation. I have utilised a social-ecological approach in order to seek for the most critical factors hindering conservation of traditional rural biotopes in Finland. I also explore practical solutions that have the potential to improve their conservation status. The coverage of traditional rural biotopes has faced severe habitat loss during the last 150 years. This has led to endangerment of several habitat types and species that dwell in them. As a result of habitat loss and dynamic land use history, contemporary factors drive remnant biodiversity related to traditional rural biotopes in Central Finland. Therefore an emphasis on present, not past, better supports their conservation. On national level, the management actions are not targeted to ecologically most valuable sites. On site-level, management actions foster local biodiversity, but also cultural heritage and human–nature relationship. Understanding of this multiscale social-ecological complexity is crucial in promoting management actions among landowners according to conservation goals. Yet current agri-environmental policies treat the social-ecological interactions in a simplified manner, and therefore they do not self-evidently encourage management of traditional rural biotopes. My results show that the inefficiency in conservation of traditional rural biotopes largely follows from a scale mismatch between the extent and location of current management actions and the desired ecological response. More effective conservation of traditional rural biotopes calls for adoption of a new governance approach that aims for resilience through local focus and increased actor participation.

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Doctoral student Kaisa Raatikainen
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