City of Helsinki once again to fell trees in flying squirrel core areas

Feb 24, 2022

The City of Helsinki has announced that it will start felling trees in the area of Helsinki-Malmi airport. According to Kimmo Kuisma, project manager for the Urban Environment Division, a landscape work permit has been issued by the City of Helsinki. 

The planning area covers a core area of ​​flying squirrels. Felling trees from these areas always requires a deviation permit. In general, deforestation or other work that destroys or impairs breeding and resting places may not be carried out during the breeding season of the flying squirrel from 15 March to 31 July.

A request for a preservation order has been filed pursuant to section 57 of the Nature Conservation Act to the ELY Center of Uusimaa. An investigation request has been filed to Helsinki Police Department and an action request to the Helsinki Environmental Protection Office in order to prevent violations of the Nature Conservation Act.

The relocation of a gas pipeline planned to the Malmi Airport area with a landscape permit alone threatens the core areas of the flying squirrel, the airport’s valuable meadow habitat and the Built Cultural Environment of National Significance (RKY).

Friends of Malmi Airport urges the ELY Center to impose a preservation order on the airport area due to the lack of studies promoting the conservation of biodiversity and other natural values. The planned pipeline is aligned to run through core areas of flying squirrels as well as significant forest and meadow areas, all defined on the basis of studies made by the City of Helsinki. 

An urgent request to investigate and act has been made to the Helsinki Police Department in order to prevent a possible violation of the law in the area.

The City of Helsinki Environmental Protection Office has been requested to take measures to ensure the legality of the city’s operations and to exercise control on the City’s internal environmental protection.

The last time the City published a survey of the prevalence of flying squirrels was in 2019. In projects like the present one, the prevalence should be checked immediately before the work is begun, and this has not been done. The breeding season of flying squirrels, which is just beginning and ongoing, is under threat. In general, the core areas of flying squirrels should be kept intact for five (5) years from the last observations in order to preserve the breeding grounds for new generations and to ensure the continuity of the population. 

The City intends to begin work in the area even though relevant studies have not been updated for years. The substantial flying squirrel observations of a study commissioned by the Friends of Malmi Airport from KAER Ltd (2020-2021) have also been ignored. KAER Oy is also the city’s service provider in similar studies. 

The previous time the City destroyed a rare flying squirrel woods next to Malmi Airport was in the spring of 2018, justifying the felling of the trees with a politically approved conservation plan. The City had falsely informed the ELY Center that there were no trees suitable for the flying squirrel in the area, even though they had been verified in practice. 

The City’s bulletin about the intended work (in Finnish):

Newspaper articles about the previous destruction of flying squirrel woods (2018, in Finnish):