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Freshwater ecosystem services in Finland

ISBN (pdf):978-952-11-4176-8 
Julkaisusarja ja numero:Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 16/2013 
Kustantaja:Finnish Environment Institute 
Saatavuus (pdf):http://hdl.handle.net/10138/39076 
Tekijät:Janne Alahuhta; Ilona Joensuu; Jukka Matero; Kari-Matti Vuori; Olli Saastamoinen  

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Ecosystem services have become a significant multidisciplinary research agenda in the world. Man-made activities both at global and local scales deteriorate biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, which are essential also to human welfare. Ecosystem services are material and immaterial benefits and services provided by nature. Ecosystem services can be divided to the following main categories: provisioning, regulating, cultural and sustaining services. Different ecosystems provide various services depending also on their geographical location. For example, boreal ecosystems differ ecologically from tropical ones, for which the services they provide also vary. Boreal region is generally known for its high abundance of freshwaters. Quantity of freshwaters is rarely a problem in boreal region, but quality of inland waters is decreased in many places due to anthropogenic pressures. Freshwaters have received less attention than other ecosystems in ecosystem services research, because direct link between inland waters and terrestrial ecosystems makes evaluation of freshwater ecosystem services challenging. Purpose of this report is to identity and classify freshwater ecosystem services in Finland. The report consists of two parts: 1) historical review of freshwater ecosystem services in Finland, and 2) identification and classification of current ecosystem services in Finnish freshwaters. In historical review, we roughly evaluate how identification and appreciation of freshwater ecosystem services have varied temporally. In the second part, we identify and classify current freshwater ecosystem services in Finland based on two classification criteria, which complement each other. This report is part of project ”Integrated and policy relevant valuation of forest, agro, peatland and aquatic ecosystem services in Finland”, which is funded by Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation and coordinated by University of Eastern Finland. Appreciation of freshwater ecosystem services has varied over the decades. In the beginning of 20th century, inland waters were important source of nutriment and way of transportation. Increased pollution of water bodies awaked society to appreciate other services provided by freshwaters in turn of 1970s-80s. Nowadays, freshwaters have a major role among others in flood protection, climate regulation, primary production and recreation. However, identification of many freshwater services is still superficial or deficient. For example, genetic and biochemical resources, control of invasive species and diseases, aesthetic and religious services, and formation of soil and water cycling are generally poorly known in Finland. In addition, large scale studies of freshwater ecosystem services are rarely done in Finland and knowledge on how services interact with each other is inadequate.