Towards the spring and new wetland sites!
At the end of 2022, the SOTKA wetlands carried out restoration work on the last site supported by the Foundation to await the coming spring and the lifting of the water. Leväjänkkä, Vitmossen and Viikskangas were implemented during 2022, and in 2023 the spring meltwaters will raise water levels at these sites to allow waterfowl to nest, brood and feed successfully.
Wetland restoration work involves a lot of concrete work: careful examination of the target area in terms of topography, catchment and brooding potential, the construction of embankments and dams to retain water in the area and the sowing of suitable seed mixtures to produce suitable vegetation for avoiding erosion and thinning of excess vegetation. However, restoration is vital work to safeguard biodiversity and restore suitable habitats. There is a huge need for habitat work to reverse decades of negative trends.
At EU level, Finland is one of the most important breeding areas and brooding habitats for waterfowl. Depending on the species, the migratory route of waterbirds from wintering grounds to breeding grounds runs from south to north, following the pattern of western Europe, and back again in late autumn. Habitat work in Finland improves the breeding and living conditions of waterfowl and increases the common European waterfowl population. Functioning breeding areas and brood-rearing habitats therefore form the bedrock for the entire migratory-level waterfowl population.
Constructed wetlands do work!
Observations from wetland projects show that waterbirds thrive in constructed wetlands. Comparisons with their wild counterparts have shown that constructed wetlands clearly attract more waterfowl than wild ones, and brood numbers have been found to have increased up to fourfold in constructed, restored areas. Apart from annual thinning and reducing small predators, the habitat work is largely a one-off investment that will pay off in the long term. In addition to waterfowl, wetlands support a remarkably wide range of other species!
Even funding is at best at the level of the migration route!
Significant habitat work requires sustained and adequate funding, and this requires actors along the entire migration route. The Finnish Game Management Foundation and the SOTKA ponds thank the Italian Hunting Association (Federazione Italiana della Caccia) and the Waterfowlers’ Network for their cooperation: some of the SOTKA wetland sites have received their funding from outside Finland, along the migration route of waterfowl nesting in Finland! The future goal of the Finnish Game Management Foundation is to create links and enable more and more restoration projects to be funded through cooperation at the migratory route level!
Habitat work benefits everyone!
Photos by Petri Jauhiainen and Holtti Hakonen