Biodiversity in grid area
According to a study conducted by the Finnish Environment Institute in the region of Uusimaa in Southern Finland, transmission line rights-of-ways which are kept clear by regular clearing of vegetation are a potentially important alternative habitat for species suffering from the decreasing area of natural meadows.
The most representative meadows are subjected to intensified management, as are habitats of the butterfly false heath fritillary located under Fingrid's transmission lines in the region of Pirkanmaa in Central Finland.
In addition to the reduction of meadows, it is known that the area of open mires has decreased as a result of ditching. A study carried out at the University of Jyväskylä indicates that transmission line areas serve as an alternative habitat for mire daytime butterflies and plants whose living environments are diminishing. Ditching of mires and other human activity impair and destroy the living environments and food plants of daytime butterflies which inhabit mires.
The impact of transmission lines on birdlife has been studied at Ritassaarensuo in Hyvinkää in Southern Finland. The related report was completed towards the end of 2008. The impact of transmission lines on birdlife has also been studied at Isoneva in Pomarkku in Western Finland. This report will be ready in early 2010.
The nesting of the kestrel in Finland is nowadays dependent on bird houses installed on the walls of barns, maintained by those ringing birds. Since barns are inevitably disappearing from fields in the coming decades as a result of a change in agriculture, transmission line towers could provide a nesting place where the kestrel is safe from pine martens and other predators.
The usability of transmission line towers as nesting places for the kestrel has been studied in Finland since 2004 at Fingrid Oyj's assignment (Koskimies 2004, 2005b, 2006, 2007, 2008). A total of 100 bird houses were installed on transmission line towers before the nesting season of 2004, and these bird houses were inspected annually until 2009. The nesting in the different years succeeded equally as well as in bird houses installed on barn walls, although the material concerning birds houses on transmission line towers was limited.
The relative risk of collision of birds with transmission lines in bird sanctuaries located close to transmission lines included in the nation-wide grid was studied between 2008 and 2009. The study aimed to use birdlife and terrain data as well as geographical data on the transmission lines to assess the relative collision risk that a transmission line causes especially to protected bird species.
Biological sprout prevention
In co-operation with the University of Helsinki, Fingrid is examining the possibility to use the fungus Chondrostereum purpureum in biological sprout prevention. Biological sprout prevention refers to restricting the sprouting of deciduous trees using natural methods, without industrial pesticides. Biological sprout prevention does not replace mechanical clearing of vegetation but supplements it by preventing and decelerating the re-growth of certain deciduous trees.
Assessment of impacts on people
Fingrid has commissioned guidelines for the assessment of impacts on people together with the University of Oulu. The report describes suggestive guidelines for various parties in the consideration of impacts on people in conjunction with the environmental impact assessment procedures of transmission line projects. Stakes, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, published the report in its own series in 2005.
In 2008, Fingrid participated in a study by MTT Agrifood Research Finland examining the views of people living in the surroundings of Lepsämäjoki in Southern Finland of the value of agricultural landscape and of the impacts of transmission lines on this value. The results will be utilised in the planning of transmission lines.
Landowners' experiences of the construction of transmission line
Fingrid has commissioned surveys among landowners and authorities in conjunction with the Pikkarala-Pyhänselkä, Rauma-Ulvila-Hikiä and Länsisalmi-Kymi transmission line projects. The objective has been to find out how owners of land in the transmission line area and authorities involved in the project experienced the construction of the line. Feedback and suggestions for subsequent projects were also compiled. A total of 50 landowners and authorities were interviewed for the surveys.
According to the findings, the landowners were basically positive about the construction of the transmission line and they understood that the line is necessary, but they still did not wish to have it in their own land. Landowners considered that their own influence in the matter was limited to "primarily minor practical issues". Individual issues raised by the landowners included the use of alternative tower models, finalising work in line construction, and use of private roads. The results of the interviews suggested that landowners wished to influence the tower model more than other issues. Authorities, in turn, regarded the financial grounds and reasoning for the project as unclear. The primary feedback concerned shortcomings in communications. This will receive specific attention in the future.
Corresponding surveys are carried out of each major transmission line project. The most recent surveys comprise the follow-up study of the social impacts of Fingrid's 400 kilovolt transmission line project between Toivila and Vihtavuori completed in 2009, and a questionnaire concerning the Keminmaa-Sellee line project in 2005.
Other studies related to the biodiversity of rights-of-ways
- Report of the nourishment supply of elks in rights-of-ways
- Applicability study concerning mechanical clearing of vegetation
- Research report of the risk of collision of birds with transmission lines at Pernajanlahti
- Research of the impacts of transmission line on the value of real estates
- Assessment of the scenic disadvantage of transmission lines, literary survey
- Research report of birds nesting in rights-of-ways in Southern Finland
- Significance of transmission line areas for land invertebrate inhabiting ditched and unditched mires, Master's thesis
- Rights-of-ways as dispersal corridors for butterflies, Master's thesis
- Clearing and management guidelines for undergrowth in transmission line areas
- Management and use plans for transmission line areas: island of Luoto and Hätilännotko in Nokia, Pohtola in Tampere.