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Hokkanen P.,Center for Economic Development | Jantunen J.,Finnish Environment Institute
Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management | Year: 2012

This article reviews how the Finnish EIA legislation and procedures are performing in practice, and how the goals of the EIA Act are reached. The role of EIA in planning and decision-making, and the relationship between the EIA legislation and other pieces of legislation is also evaluated. Overall, the goals of the Finnish EIA legislation have been successfully reached: EIA has achieved a meaningful role as a preventive and participatory environmental management tool. In addition, stakeholders have understood the role of EIA and the scope of the current EIA legislation, which is under no pressure for major amendments. The EIA is applied to a rather small number of projects, but these are highly significant in terms of their environmental impact. Some areas requiring improvement identified, for example, the need to streamline and clarify the relationship between EIA procedure and zoning regulations as well as between EIA and the environmental permit system. The legislation for different sectors could be harmonised so that it would better take into account the broad information base created through EIA. © 2012 Imperial College Press. Source

Polonen I.,University of Eastern Finland | Hokkanen P.,Center for Economic Development | Jalava K.,University of Jyvaskyla
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2011

The article summarises the results of a multidisciplinary research project on the effectiveness of the Finnish EIA system. It examines the main strengths and weaknesses of EIA as a preventive and participatory environmental management tool. The study concludes that EIA has achieved a meaningful role in the environmental policy toolbox in Finland and has clearly enhanced the possibilities for high-quality environmental decision making. The research cites the liaison authority system as a clear strength of the Finnish EIA system in its enabling a single regional authority to specialise in and gain wide experience on EIA issues. In examining potential weaknesses of the regime, the article concludes that the key constraint on EIA effectiveness is inadequacy of the action-forcing mechanisms at the decision-making phase. The primary means to improve the effectiveness of EIA would be to strengthen the legal provisions on development consents. On the whole, the research indicates that the EU and Finnish legislation and guidance on environmental impact assessment provide a good framework for effective utilisation of the instrument. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Source

Gronroos M.,Finnish Environment Institute | Gronroos M.,University of Oulu | Heino J.,Finnish Environment Institute | Heino J.,University of Oulu | And 5 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Within a metacommunity, both environmental and spatial processes regulate variation in local community structure. The strength of these processes may vary depending on species traits (e.g., dispersal mode) or the characteristics of the regions studied (e.g., spatial extent, environmental heterogeneity). We studied the metacommunity structuring of three groups of stream macroinvertebrates differing in their overland dispersal mode (passive dispersers with aquatic adults; passive dispersers with terrestrial adults; active dispersers with terrestrial adults). We predicted that environmental structuring should be more important for active dispersers, because of their better ability to track environmental variability, and that spatial structuring should be more important for species with aquatic adults, because of stronger dispersal limitation. We sampled a total of 70 stream riffle sites in three drainage basins. Environmental heterogeneity was unrelated to spatial extent among our study regions, allowing us to examine the effects of these two factors on metacommunity structuring. We used partial redundancy analysis and Moran's eigenvector maps based on overland and watercourse distances to study the relative importance of environmental control and spatial structuring. We found that, compared with environmental control, spatial structuring was generally negligible, and it did not vary according to our predictions. In general, active dispersers with terrestrial adults showed stronger environmental control than the two passively dispersing groups, suggesting that the species dispersing actively are better able to track environmental variability. There were no clear differences in the results based on watercourse and overland distances. The variability in metacommunity structuring among basins was not related to the differences in the environmental heterogeneity and spatial extent. Our study emphasized that (1) environmental control is prevailing in stream metacommunities, (2) dispersal mode may have an important effect on metacommunity structuring, and (3) some factors other than spatial extent or environmental heterogeneity contributed to the differences among the basins. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Ihaksi T.,Center for Economic Development | Kokkonen T.,Aalto University | Helle I.,University of Helsinki | Jolma A.,Aalto University | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2011

Increasing oil transportation and severe oil accidents in the past have led to the development of various sensitivity maps in different countries all over the world. Often, however, the areas presented on the maps are far too large to be safeguarded with the available oil combating equipment and prioritization is required to decide which areas must be safeguarded. While oil booms can be applied to safeguard populations from a drifting oil slick, decision making on the spatial allocation of oil combating capacity is extremely difficult due to the lack of time, resources and knowledge. Since the operational decision makers usually are not ecologists, a useful decision support tool including ecological knowledge must be readily comprehensible and easy to use. We present an index-based method that can be used to make decisions concerning which populations of natural organisms should primarily be safeguarded from a floating oil slick with oil booms. The indices take into account the relative exposure, mortality and recovery potential of populations, the conservation value of species and populations, and the effectiveness of oil booms to safeguard different species. The method has been implemented in a mapping software that can be used in the Gulf of Finland (Baltic Sea) for operational oil combating. It could also be utilized in other similar conservation decisions where species with varying vulnerability, conservational value, and benefits received from the management actions need to be prioritized. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

Vuorenmaa J.,Finnish Environment Institute | Salonen K.,University of Helsinki | Salonen K.,University of Jyvaskyla | Arvola L.,University of Helsinki | And 3 more authors.
Boreal Environment Research | Year: 2014

Small headwater lakes reflect the changes in atmospheric pollution, and are also indicators of climate change. This study examined water chemistry changes in a pristine small lake in southern Finland during the period 1990-2009. Recovery from acidification was indicated, while no major changes in trace metal concentrations were found. In the course of the study, total phosphorus concentration was fluctuating in deteriorated oxygen conditions in the hypolimnion. However, total and organic nitrogen remained stable, but inorganic nitrogen concentration increased during the period, and was more dependent on the hydrology and in-lake processes than nitrogen deposition. Dissolved organic and inorganic carbon concentrations also increased, presumably due to decreasing acidity and changes in runoff, and increased alkalinity and decreased phytoplankton production, respectively. The results emphasise the importance of integrated intensive long-term monitoring of physical, chemical and biological variables for detecting impacts of changing environmental conditions. © 2014. Source

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