One in ten Finnish species threatened: environment ministry

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The Independent Online

One in ten Finnish plants and animals is now threatened as climate change plays a role in speeding up extinctions, the Finnish environment ministry said Wednesday.

"During the last ten years, the status of 186 species ... has improved, while that of 356 has deteriorated," the ministry said in a statement, adding that improvements were thanks to conservation efforts.

Only a few dozen of the 2,247 species listed as threatened in Finland are also considered threatened on a global scale, the Finnish Environment Institute noted.

"Nonetheless this is significant because it means that Finland's nature has rapidly changed a great deal... due to climate change," Environment Institute spokesman Heikki Toivonen told AFP.

He said the increasing number of threatened bird species, for example, is a sign that migration to and from south of the Sahara Desert has become increasingly difficult as northern Africa has become drier and hotter.

For example, the European turtle dove has been downgraded from vulnerable to critically endangered in Finland, while the ruff and the barred warbler, neither of which were in danger a decade ago, have jumped straight to the endangered list.

"Global warming and milder winters have also caused a decline in mammals that have adapted to life in snowy and icy conditions, such as the mountain hare, wolverine and seals," the environment ministry said.

Large mammals are also being threatened by deliberate or unintentional trapping and hunting, like the globally endangered Saimaa ringed seal, which sometimes gets caught and killed in fishing nets.

Five species of mammals have become regionally extinct in the past decade, including the garden dormouse and the harbour porpoise.

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