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The unknown northern green: evaluation of a national forest biodiversity research program

Juslén, Aino, Sirkiä, Saija
Biodiversity and conservation 2013 v.22 no.3 pp. 811-823
biodiversity, biologists, biotopes, boreal forests, forest policy, languages, leaves, national forests, new species, research programs, research support, researchers, threatened species, Finland
The taxonomic knowledge gap and lack of knowledge on species-level diversity has been a global concern within conservation biology through the recent two decades. As a national response, Finland has funded a Research Program of Poorly Known and Threatened Forest Species from the year 2003. The program is an essential part of the knowledge base applied in Finnish forest policy. The present paper evaluates the outcomes of the program, covering scientific publication, training, taxonomic coverage, increased knowledge on boreal forest biodiversity and awareness rising. The ongoing program has been funded by 6.5 million Euros to date including 59 projects. The program has produced 19 master’s theses and six doctoral theses. Due to their expertise the graduated biologists have been employed in environmental administration or become researchers. The program has produced 163 refereed scientific articles, 104 of which are recognized by the Web of Science; with an average impact factor of 1.81. The results of the program include 15 genera and 348 species new to science, and 60 genera and 1,664 species to Finland’s list of known species. Due to new knowledge gathered in the program 3,000–4,000 species could be included in the most recent National Red List assessment. The publishing of identification books on local language has proved as the most effective way of advancing general species knowledge among the public and end-users. The high number of new species to science from a biodiversity-poor boreal country describes the scale of the huge work still be done in describing the global species-level diversity. The program has achieved its goals in many ways, but the program leaves out a large part of the species that do not occur in forest biotopes. Moreover, the funding has decreased through the years despite the international goal of halting the world’s biodiversity loss has not been met.