Integrating Geological Information in City Management to Prevent
Environmental Risks― GeoInforM ― LIFE06 TCY/ROS/000267
Extraction of land resources in Finland – permits and licensing
Review of the Geological Survey of Finland (Partner 2), Task 2
Aggregates are the most extracted non-renewable natural resource in Finland. The total amount of aggregates used annually is about 90 million tons, which is approximately 18 tons per inhabitant (Rintala & Britschgi 2005, Rintala 2007, Finnish Environment Institute 2007a). In Finland, the extraction of land resources, i.e. rock aggregate, sand, gravel, clay and organic matter except peat is regulated by the Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki 1981/555). The
Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki 1981/555) regulates the restrictions for land extraction.
The land extraction is subject to licence and the Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki
1981/555) defines in detail how to apply permission to extraction of land resources. The permission is granted by the authority that municipality has issued. A statement is needed from the Regional Environment Centre if the planned land extraction area has national or other significant importance in terms of nature conservation, significance in terms of water protection or it directly effects on other municipalities. According to the Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki 1981/555) it is mandatory of the holder of a land extraction permit to report annually on the amount and type of all resources extracted. The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and various Regional Environment Centres maintain the land resources extraction information system. The system contains information on permits from 1982 onwards and on extracted volumes from 1997 onwards (Rintala 2007, Finnish Environment Institute 2007a). There are specific forms that the holder of a land extraction permit should fill in annually to report the amount and type of all resources extracted (Finnish Environment Institute 2006).
The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) maintains sand and gravel database that contains information on the quality and quantity of sand and gravel, areal extent of the deposits, usefulness of the deposits and land use. The data is collected since 1971 and is updated yearly (Geological Survey of Finland 2006a, 2006b). The Environmental administration of Finland, GTK and actors in the sector have been developing a data management system that provides reliable, real-time data online on available aggregates, i.e. natural-resource accounting for aggregate. The system incorporates data on natural aggregate resources, data on usage restrictions (e.g. natural protection areas), data on left-over materials and industrial by-products and monitoring of extraction and utilization. The aim of the system is to secure aggregate supplies in line with the principle of sustainable development (Räisänen & Idman 2006).
Extraction under the Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki 1981/555) applies primarily to
gravel and sand resources but increasingly also to rock aggregate. However, in 2005 gravel extraction permits still accounted for 75% of all land resources extraction permits, and gravel represented 65% of all resources extracted (Rintala 2007).
SYKE has mapped and classified groundwater areas in Finland. By the end of 2006, almost 6 500 groundwater areas had been classified. Approximately 2 300 areas belong to Class I (groundwater area important for water supply), 1 500 to Class II (groundwater area suitable
for water supply), and 2 700 to Class III (other groundwater area) (Finnish Environment Institute 2007b). More than half of the mapped groundwater areas are exploitable for the water supply. It is estimated that Finland’s aquifers are replenished by an average of almost 6
million cubic meters of water a day. Finland currently extracts around 0.7 million cubic meters of groundwater a day. Groundwater accounts for around 60 % of the water distributed by waterworks around the country (Finnish Environment Institute 2007c).
In 2002, the Finnish environmental administration started using a nationwide groundwater database (POVET). This database contains multi-faceted information about aquifers, for example, general information about hydrogeology, activities and land use (settlements, forestry, cultivation, industry) and risk points as fur farming, pig houses, gravel extraction, gas stations etc. The database includes also information on monitoring and sampling of groundwater from wells, sampling tubes, ponds and springs. The Regional Environment Centres are responsible for monitoring classified groundwater areas in their own district, studies on these areas and data input of the results. SYKE takes care of national summary reports (Finnish Environment Institute 2007d). GTK’s groundwater database consists of the chemical and physical properties of groundwater samples that are collected at first for the geochemical atlas (Lahermo et al. 1990) and then in the connection of Quaternary geological mapping and other groundwater studies (Geological Survey of Finland 2006b).
The EU Water Framework Directive sets out the objectives for groundwater protection applied in Finland. One major objective is to ensure that all groundwater reserves have a good quantitative and chemical status. The Strategy for Renewable Natural Resources in Finland (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2001, Marttila & Niemivuo-Lahti 2005) covers the maintenance of the quantitative and chemical status of groundwater, as well as the appropriate and ethical management of groundwater areas of special importance, according to the principles of sustainable development. Groundwater modeling is increasingly used to estimate the extent of the available groundwater resources (Finnish Environment Institute 2007c).
The exploitation of water resources is subject to official permission wherever this may lead to damage to the environment or property. Anyone intending to use water resources should first contact the Regional Environment Centre to find out whether the planned activity is subject to permits obtainable from the environmental permit authorities. The usage of water resources is regulated in detail by Finland’s water legislation, mainly in the Environmental Protection Act (Ympäristönsuojelulaki 86/2000), the Environmental Protection Decree
(Ympäristönsuojeluasetus 168/2000) and the Water Act (Vesilaki 264/1961) (Finnish
Environment Institute 2007e, 2007f).
In Finland, a project "Adjusting of Aggregate Production and Groundwater Protection" started in 1994. The aim of the project is to ensure both the supply of good quality aggregate for municipal construction (e.g. for the concrete industry and highway construction) and good quality groundwater for water supply systems. Groundwater areas which need to be restored after gravel extraction are also listed. All the information collected during the project is stored in geographical information systems (GIS) and the results are published in regional plans as a part of any proposal for aggregate extraction. These plans show the areas which are suitable for aggregate extraction (no effect on groundwater), those which have limited possibilities for aggregate extraction (groundwater may be affected) and those which are not suitable for aggregate extraction (sensitive groundwater areas). Even though the classification is based in principal on the Land Extraction Act (Maa-aineslaki 1981/555), the recommendations are not
legally enforceable (Finnish Environment Institute 2007g).
Finnish Environment Institute 2006. Maa-ainesluvat ja ilmoitukset (Land extraction permits and reports). <http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?node=12235&lan=fi> Visited 27.8.2007.
Finnish Environment Institute 2007a. Aggregate extraction. Available at: <http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=246125&lan=fi&clan=en> Visited 27.8.2007.
Finnish Environment Institute 2007b. Mapping and classification of Finnish groundwater areas. <http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=239344&lan=fi&clan=en> Visited
Finnish Environment Institute 2007c. Groundwater resources.
<http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=229100&lan=fi&clan=en> Visited 30.8.2007
Finnish Environment Institute 2007d. Groundwater database – POVET.
<http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=164702&lan=en> Visited 30.8.2007
Finnish Environment Institute 2007e. Water resources management.
<http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=220135&lan=fi&clan=en> Visited 30.8.2007.
Finnish Environment Institute.2007f. Legislation on water protection. <http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=163467&lan=en> Visited 30.8.2007
Finnish Environment Institute 2007g. Adjusting of groundwater protection and aggregate production (POSKI). http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?node=19089&lan=en Visited
Geological Survey of Finland. 2006a. Sand and gravel resources.
<http://en.gtk.fi/Resources/sand_and_gravel.html> Visited 30.8.2007.
Geological Survey of Finland. 2006b. Surficial Geology Data.
<http://en.gtk.fi/Geoinfo/DataProducts/Surficial/> Visited 28.8.2007.
Lahermo, P., Ilmasti, M., Juntunen, R. & Taka, M. 1990. The Geochemical Atlas of Finland. Part 1 : The hydrogeochemical mapping of Finnish groundwater. Espoo: Geological Survey of Finland. 66 p. + 1 app.
Marttila, V. & Niemivuo-Lahti, J. (eds.) 2005. Renewable Natural Resources and Rural Development in Finland: Assessing the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Publications of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 13a/2004. Available at:
<http://www.eeac-net.org/download/FIN-FCNR_Johannesburg_05.pdf> Visited 30.8.2007.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2001. Strategy for Renewable Natural Resources in Finland. Publications of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 8b/2001. 85 p. + 2 annexes. Available at:
<http://www.mmm.fi/attachments/5gA9ccoKa/5jzS6g4vF/Files/CurrentFile/julkaisu_Luonnonvara_Englanti.pdf> Visited 30.8.2007
Räisänen, M. & Idman, H. 2006. Promoting sustainability in aggregate supply – a Finnish
case study. Sustainable resource management, raw materials security, Factor-X resource productivity –tools for delivering sustainable growth in the European Union, 6-7 December 2006 in Bruges, Belgium. Presentation. Available at:
Rintala, J. (2007). Maa-ainesten ottomäärät ja ottamislupatilanne 2005 - maa-aineslain mukaiset ottoalueet (English summary: Extractable land resource volumes and permits 2005 –
extraction areas under the Land Extraction Act). Suomen ympäristökeskuksen raportteja 17/2007, 64 sivua. Suomen ympäristökeskus (SYKE). Available at:
<http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=233907&lan=fi&clan=fi> Visited 27.8.2007.
Rintala, J. P., Britschgi, R. K. I .2005. Sustainable use of aggregates - from regional planning to post treatment. In: Meriläinen, Päivi, Sivula, Leena, Oikari, Aimo (eds.). Seventh international conference of environmental sciences, Jyväskylä, May 12-13, 2005: Science for sustainability: Proceedings. Jyväskylä, Finnish Society for Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. p. 261-264. Available at:
<http://www.ymparisto.fi/download.asp?contentid=72958&lan=fi> Visited 27.8.2007.