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Shoreline environments include both the open or semi-open coastal areas of the Baltic Sea and inland waters. The shores are species-rich, as although they cover only about two percent of Finland's total surface area, they are primary habitats for over nine percent of the species found in Finland.

Shores between waters and land areas

Shore habitats are plentiful not only on the coasts of the Gulf of Finland and the Bothnian Sea but also on the largest inland water areas in Finnish lake plateau. However, accurately estimating the surface area of shoreline environments is difficult. Assessments are complicated by issues such as the definition, delimitation, and measurement of shores, as well as by the inadequacies in the mapping and research of shorelines. Depending on the definition method used, estimates of the amount of shore habitats can vary in different contexts, as it largely depends on where the shore is considered to begin and end.

Roughly estimated, in Finland, there are about 120,000 hectares of Baltic Sea shore habitats, and the inland water shore habitats are about six times that amount compared to sea shores. Based on this estimate, the combined share of all shore habitats would correspond to about two percent of Finland’s total surface area and 2.6 percent of its land area. In this assessment, shore habitats for the sea shores are counted as the open and semi-open environments between the normal waterline and the upper limit of regular flooding. The estimate of the amount of inland water shore areas has been made by comparing the shore area of sea regions to the ratio of inland waters and sea shorelines. This approach assumes that the topographies of inland and sea shores are comparable.

Shores are species-rich

Shore habitats have been found to be remarkably species-rich. Of the species examined, nine percent are shoreline species. Of these, 57 percent primarily inhabit inland water shores, and 34 percent are found on the Baltic Sea shores. A primary habitat has not been determined for nearly ten percent of the shore species.

The majority of the species on inland water shores are concentrated on meadow and floodplain shores, but sandy shores also have their own distinct species. Tube plants make up a significant portion of the shore species, but in addition, there are many different types of insects, such as beetles, wasps, and dipterans. The meadow and floodplain shores of the Baltic Sea are also an important habitat for many butterflies.