English summaries 9/1999
Research stations are studying how the Baltic functions and investigating its problems
by Antti Halkka and Juho Rahkonen
Three biological research stations devoted to the Baltic Sea and its coasts are located along the Finnish coast and in the archipelago. In addition, there are two such stations studying the terrestrial environment along the coasts. Aside from the marine biology research vessels and other craft owned by the research stations, the Aranda and the Muikku are also engaged in marine studies. The Baltic is continuing to become eutrophicated and marine biologists are trying to determine the impact of eutrophication on marine life. Nowadays many studies call for diving, as a consequence of which courses are held every year for the purpose of training "biodivers". The biology and environmental effects of the bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) and common mussel (Mytilus edulis) have been elucidated here by marine biologists.
Under the impact of eutrophication, most of the Baltic ecosystems have already altered and can now (as distinct from individual species) be considered endangered. Studies have revealed that the Baltic catchment area, or watershed, is one of the most rapidly changing regions in the world. Apart from eutrophication, the sea is threatened by construction, climate change, environmental toxins, and exotic species introduced by mankind.
Dick Forsman: ornithologist, bird of prey expert, bird artist, nature travel organiser, wildlife photographer
by Markku Lappalainen
Dick Forsman tells us that he is happy, and contented with - and even enjoying - his life. Dick has succeeded in combining the passions of his childhood and youth, his hobby, and his work, in a unique way; he is able to earn a living through them.
Even as a schoolboy, Dick was fascinated by birds, and especially birds of prey. After school, he went on to study zoology at the University of Helsinki. Bit by bit, he began to write newspaper and magazine articles, write books and produce radio programmes. Throughout, he had a passion for drawing and painting birds, and in this respect he achieved the level of an artist of international repute.
Later, instead of just making trips to view birds himself, Dick became a tour guide. He has taken Finnish ornithologists to various parts of Africa and Israel, for instance, and foreign bird watchers to various parts of Finland and northern Norway. Internationally, Dick is renowned as an expert on birds of prey more than anything else. Last year, an English ornithological publisher published a book written by Dick Forsman, a special feature of which was a guide to the identification of such birds. The work is generally considered the best of its kind the world over.
Streams of the Helsinki area are tiny oases of life
by Jere Malinen and Petri Nummi
Streams and brooks are like Nature's blood vessels. They transport nutrients, regulate soil hydrology, and act as a thoroughfare and environment for numerous animals. However, in Helsinki and other cities streams are now under pressure. The most serious threat are roads. In Helsinki, local streams have to pass under the ring roads north of the city. At worst, this means unnaturally squeezing the flowing water into a tunnel around a metre wide for a distance of as much as 200 metres. Roads also split up the "green routes" created by streams and their channels.
Another threat is construction along stream and brook courses; the powers that be have a passion for tidying them up with plantings and covering them over in various ways. The original herb and grass vegetation is weeded out, while lush clumps of willow and bird cherry are mercilessly destroyed. The nightingale loses the habitats in which it sings and nests.
There are two beaver species in Finland - should the commoner one be destroyed?
by Jouko Kuosmanen
There are almost 12,000 beavers in Finland. Around 1000 of these are European beavers (Castor fiber) living in western Finland, while the rest are the descendants of beavers imported from North America and now mainly inhabiting central and eastern Finland. The North American species is the Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis). Beavers are extremely large rodents which have a marked impact on their environment. They dam streams, rivers and pools, build large dens (called lodges), and fell hundreds of trees in their vicinity. By raising the water level so that part of the forest becomes flooded, beavers sometimes cause rather considerable financial losses to forest owners.
In Finland, a suggestion has been made that the Canadian beaver ought to be hunted to extinction. In this case, only the indigenous European beaver would remain. This species is believed to cause less damage than its more enterprising North American cousin. Hunters are ready and willing to take on this job, but it is still unclear whether the claim is true and no official decision has been reached. The big problem is that Canadian beavers also live in neighbouring Russia and there is nothing to stop them spreading into Finland.
Roska-Roope ("Rubbish Rupert") has kept the archipelago clean for 30 years
by Markku Lappalainen
Thirty years ago Rabbe Lauren, a resident of Turku (Åbo), and his friends became totally fed up with seeing rubbish bags that had been thrown into the sea washed up on shores, to the detriment of the environment. They set out to develop a waste management system for craft in the archipelago and by this means Håll Skärgården Ren rf (Pidä Siistinä ry = "Keep it clean" organisation) came into being. The work was entirely voluntary and no money was collected for it. Empty bins were strategically placed on islands, the rubbish thrown into them being later incinerated.
Nowadays this excellent work is funded by the Ministry of the Environment (1/3), enterprises (over 1/3), the municipalities in the archipelago region, and private persons. The annual budget for keeping the islands clean is FIM 6.5 million. 12,800 boat owners have paid a boat owners' waste management fee and have earned a "Rubbish Rupert" sticker.
Since 1982, the organisation's operations have been under the capable leadership of Rolf Kairento, during whose time the total number of staff has swollen to 120. A waste collection fleet comprising nine vessels now sails under the "Rubbish Rupert" flag.