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A Regional Environment Centre can recommend the creation of a private nature reserve to protect a rare species

The tortrix moth species Grapholita discretana had been believed extinct in Finland

17.11.2010

The Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre did not act unlawfully or otherwise erroneously when it recommended that a landowner apply for the creation of a private nature reserve on his land to protect an extremely rare species of moth, Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin finds.

The Regional Environment Centre had informed the landowner that the tortrix moth species Grapholita discretana (for picture see: http://213.139.166.224/Lepidoptera/Tortricidae/Grapholita/discretana/Grapholita%20discretana.htm), which had been thought to have become extinct in Finland, had been found on his land. It recommended that the moth's habitat be protected under the Nature Conservation Act.

The Constitution assigns responsibility for nature and its biodiversity, the environment and the national heritage to everyone

In his complaint to the Ombudsman, the landowner expressed his doubt that the Regional Environment Centre had had the right to recommend the creation of a nature reserve on his land.

However, Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin found that the Nature Conservation Act empowers a Regional Environment Centre to create a private nature reserve upon an application by the landowner or with his consent when a threatened, rare or dwindling organism or ecological community is living on the land. The Regional Environment Centre can also recommend the creation of a nature reserve and request the landowner's consent for this or - as in this case - propose to the landowner that he himself apply to have a nature reserve created.

The task of a Regional Environment Centre is to promote and oversee environmental protection in its area.

The existence of the moth in an area included in the scope of domestic peace should not have been checked for without permission

A researcher employed by the Regional Environment Centre had visited the landowner's hop garden on several occasions and for several hours each time without the landowner's permission having been requested or his even having been informed of the investigation.

In the view of Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin, the Regional Environment Centre acted incorrectly in this respect. It should have ensured that its officials, employees and persons engaged by it knew that investigations or examinations can not be carried out in an area belonging to the scope of domestic peace without the landowner's permission.

Additional information will be provided by Senior Adviser Erkki Hännikäinen,
tel. +358 (0) 9 4321.