Address by the Deputy Mayor
The coronavirus pandemic and the restriction measures necessitated by it have highlighted the importance of our natural areas more brightly than anything in a long time. Over the course of the spring, our shores and forests have been visited by more people than perhaps ever before.
In order to prevent moving from one crisis to another, we must look beyond the pandemic and continuously do our part in fighting the climate crisis and the diminishing of biodiversity. In fact, we have managed to make many important decisions and carry out many important actions to protect our unique nature in Helsinki.
In 2019, we took both small and big steps to protect nature, from establishing conservation areas to transplanting oaks from construction sites of the Jokeri Light Rail project to new locations.
Helsinki’s Nature Conservation Programme was implemented more actively than in many previous years. Our newest conservation areas are the Kallahti bank, the Maununneva expansion and Korkeasaarenluoto. The Kallahti bank is Helsinki’s only underwater conservation area, and it is home to the underwater meadows of Kallahdenharju and their species. The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment is still processing founding proposals concerning the Haltiala forest and four small, important bird islets: Madeluoto, Pormestarinluodot, Kajuuttaluodot and Morsianluoto.
Helsinki is carrying out systematic and long-term work to prevent climate change on all possible fronts. Even though our emissions are decreasing according to plan, we must get a firmer grip on district heating emissions. We must ensure that our emissions keep decreasing every year, including the years preceding the shutdown of the Hanasaari coal plant. However, we made important decisions in 2019 regarding investments in solar power, and in terms of energy efficiency, we are far ahead of the national requirements.
In order to seek new perspectives, we are currently holding an international challenge to find sustainable alternatives to coal. Our hope is that finding usable solutions to the most pressing issue of our time will help not only Helsinki, but the world at large. In 2019, we introduced an internationally unique climate work monitoring service called Climate Watch. Thanks to the service, anyone can monitor the progress of the measures and their effect on Helsinki’s carbon emissions.
In 2019, we also began work to restore Vanhankaupunginlahti. The area is an internationally significant wetland bird conservation area, and restoring the area helps to protect its endangered birdlife. We began monitoring visitors to conservation areas last year and found that Lammassaari island, located in the Vanhankaupunginlahti bay area, was visited by more than 138,000 people. This number will surely be exceeded by far this year. I am especially glad and thankful for the five newcomers in the area: a family of white-tailed eagles on Klobben island – a concrete indication of the value of long-term protection work.
Deputy Mayor for Urban Environment