Frequently asked questions about the environment and nature

Nature, nature conservation and animals

What to do with aggressive and attacking birds?

Early summer is the busiest nesting season. At times, birds defending their nests and the young cause problems for humans. The law not only provides for protected birds, but also for the parents, nests and the young of unprotected species - magpies, crows, fieldfares and herring gulls - during nesting season, which lasts until the end of July.

If faced with a gull or a crow protecting their young, stay cool and collected. The nesting period usually does not last long, and the situation should calm down in a couple of days or weeks at the latest. Try staying clear of the nest and the young

The most ill-tempered mothers can be shooed away, as birds rarely attack humans. In some cases, it may be advisable to place metal nets, spikes or other bird barriers on roofs and other places to prevent gulls and pigeons from nesting

Sometimes shooing or avoiding nesting sites is not enough. Raising your arm above your head prevents the mother from getting too close. An umbrella also offers bird-friendly protection: walk under the umbrella until you are far enough from the nest or the young.

Is it allowed to feed birds or squirrels in the winter?

Feeding squirrels and birds in densely populated areas is not recommended as it may result in fouling of yards, balconies and other such areas with excrement. In addition, birds and squirrels can spread salmonella and other infectious diseases. Bread and bun crumbs left on feeding sites may also attract rats. Bird and squirrel feeding is not prohibited, however.

Feeding sites must be kept clean and placed far enough from homes and playgrounds. Ground feeding is not recommended. Select a feeder where the excrement cannot come into contact with the food, and the food does not fall on the ground. The ground surrounding the feeder should be regularly cleaned and limed. If you find dead birds near the feeding site, please contact the Espoo Region Environmental Health Services, tel. +358 9 8162 3900.

What to do with a huge, disturbing goose population?

Barnacle geese are protected under the Nature Conservation Act and the EU law. They can be driven off, however, by briskly walking or running towards them. Chasing them away immediately after their arrival in the area is most effective. They learn to avoid places where they are not able to rest or eat.

What should I do with an injured animal or bird?

Injured wild animals can be taken to the Korkeasaari Zoo's animal shelter. Once rehabilitated, the animals are released back to the nature. A telephone helpline is open daily from noon to 1.00 pm, tel. +358 9 310 37887. Injured moose can be reported to the police, tel. +358 9 525 4280, after office hours call 112.

Where can I put a dead brown hare?

Dead brown hares and other small animals can be placed in a solid waste container.

How do I set up a geocache?

Geocaching is allowed on a public right of access, as long as its placing and finding do not violate laws or ordinances. Get the landowner's permission and make sure the cache does not cause inconvenience. If the land is owned by the City, permission for the cache is granted by the Real Estate Department. You can contact the Department by phone on weekdays from 8 am to 3.45 pm, tel. +358 9 816 21, or by email  tonttiyksikko@espoo.fi.

If the cache is going to be located inside a nature reserve or other place of natural value, it is advisable to also contact the Espoo Environment Department, as in some areas protection regulations may place restrictions on caching. In this case, those visiting the cache should be advised by its description about the nature reserve in order to minimise disturbance to wildlife. The Espoo Environment Department's customer service is open on weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm, tel. +358 9 8162 4832 and +358 9 8162 4842, or e-mail ymparisto@espoo.fi.

Where can I get a map of Nuuksio National Park?

Nuuksio trail and base maps are sold by, for example, bookstores and Karttakeskus. Maps for Nuuksio and other national parks can also be purchased at the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia.

A ditch between a plot and a road is flooding. What should I do?

Ditches and unbuilt green strips bordering the plot and located within 3 metres of its boundary are maintained by the owner of the plot. The owner is also responsible for cleaning clogged culverts below the plot access.

If the blockage is caused by something other than the lack of maintenance, the city will clear the ditch.

Invasive species and pests

Where do I report giant hogweed sightings?

Since giant hogweeds pose a health risk to children, among others, sightings are reported to the landowner. If the land is owned by the City, please contact the Technical and Environment Services customer service, tel. +358 9 8162 5000.

How do I remove giant hogweed safely from my garden?

If you decide to remove giant hogweeds, remember that the sap causes severe skin irritation and burns. Protect your face, hands (wear rubber gloves) and the torso properly, as the sap may splash and penetrate thin clothing to the skin. In case of skin contact, wash immediately with water and soap. Sensitive people may develop shortness of breath or allergic symptoms from volatile sap or its fragrance. One or a few individual plants can be removed by cutting the stem or root from at least 10 cm deep as early as possible in the growth season with, for example, a spade. The remaining green waste can be dried and then composted or burned.

There are rats, rodents or a squirrel in the building. What should I do?

Rats tend to invade and multiply in areas with easy food sources. Check that all solid and organic waste containers and domestic kitchen scrap composts in the area are intact and tightly sealed. Replacing broken bins with new ones might be enough to resolve the rat problem. Remove apples, plums and other fruit that have fallen from trees. Ground feeding of birds may also lead to a growing rat population. Since the city does not provide pest control, the best option is to buy traps and/or poison from hardware stores and garden shops, or contact a company specialised in pest control.

Dropping autumn temperatures attract moles and wood mice indoors to seek shelter and food. Rodents and squirrels can be prevented from entering by blocking ventilation openings and holes with nets. As many smaller rodents are very good climbers, it is advisable to also place nets in ventilation gaps on walls and the roof. That way, the house remains properly ventilated, but rodent-free. Smaller rodents can fit in holes the size of a beer bottle cap, which means that the mesh of the net should be 5-7 mm or smaller.

We have bugs at home. What are they and how can we get rid of them?

The city does not provide pest control. For identification and advice on possible means of pest control, you can visit the website of the Environment Department of the City of Helsinki.

Waste and waste management

What do I do with garden waste?

The most sensible option is to deal with green waste at its place of origin by composting. Alternatively, you can deliver it to HSY Sortti Stations. Please note that piling garden waste in public parks or forests is considered littering and punishable by law.

Where can I find the nearest recycling point for sorting waste?

The nearest recycling points for different materials are easy to find using the map-based search engine at www.kierrätys.info. The service allows you to perform searches based on area or postal code. You can also conduct searches for different materials at the same time.

Can I dispose of a broken microwave with solid waste?

No, because it is considered waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Consumers may return WEEE, free of charge, to collection points organised by producer organisations. In the Helsinki metropolitan area, WEEE is collected at, for example, HSY Sortti Stations, HSY's collection trucks touring the area in the spring, Reuse Centres, Kuusakoski Oy's outlets and some household electrical appliances shops. Find the recycling point closest to your home.

Where can I take a sofa I no longer need?

If the sofa is in good condition and still fit for use, the best option is to take it to a Reuse Centre. If the sofa needs to be disposed of, HSY Sortti Station is the correct place. For larger items, you may order the Sortti pick-up service at a charge of 50 euros.

Why did the dustcart miss its visit?

In waste management related questions, please contact HSY customer service, tel. +358 9 1561 2110. Overfilled waste containers can be reported to jate.kuljetuspalaute@hsy.fi. If the problem persists, discuss it with your property manager and residents' committee.

Where can I report an overflowing bus stop bin?

Overflowing bins in bus stops and railway platforms can be reported to the Technical and Environment Services customer service, tel. +358 9 8162 5000.

I noticed a sofa in a ditch and some old tyres and construction waste abandoned in a forest. What should I do?

Report the unauthorised landfill to the Espoo Environment Department by sending an email to ymparisto@espoo.fi. Specify the location as precisely as possible, explain the contents and if possible, attach a photograph. You may also report the find to the Espoo Environment Department customer service, Mon-Fri 10 am to 3 pm, tel. +358 9 8162 4832 or +358 9 8162 4842.

There is a lot of rubbish in a park. Can we get a bin installed?

There are already hundreds of bins in the parks, but sometimes they are not enough. Please submit your suggestion electronically or call the Technical and Environment Services customer service, tel. +358 9 8162 5000. We welcome tips from residents regarding new bin locations.

Environmental supervision

A local store keeps selling out-of-date food and the level of hygiene is not up to par. What can I do?

Please contact the Espoo Region Environmental Health Services customer service, Mon-Fri 8.30 am-12 pm, tel. +358 9 8162 3900.

My neighbour burns waste and branches in the garden, and prevents me from line-drying laundry outside. How can I stop this?

If a friendly chat with your neighbour does not work, you can contact the Espoo Environment Department customer service, Mon-Fri 10 am to 3 pm, tel. +358 9 8162 4832 or +358 9 8162 4842.

The ditch water is all green! What has happened?

District heating water is coloured green to make possible leaks easier to spot. The water is not toxic. Green water in nature might be a sign of a fractured district heating pipe. Report the sighting to Fortum's technical emergency services, tel. +358 800-1-90090, Mon-Fri 8 am to 6 pm. The service is free of charge.

The water has turned red! What's going on?

A reddish brown colour is usually caused by fine rock material, which gets mixed with water during drilling. The colour is caused by granite, and is not hazardous to the environment or human health. Reddish water may come from a tunnel construction site or geothermal well drilling. Due to its powdery consistency and the sheer quantity of the water, it is not always possible to filter all material from discharge water. In case of sea water, the reddish colour may also derive from bloom forming Alexandrium ostenfeldii.

There is oil in a ditch! What should I do?

If you see an oily film in rainbow colours, it could be caused either by an oil spill or by naturally occurring iron minerals you often find in natural waters. "Cut" the surface with a branch. If there is oil in the water, the "cut" closes immediately to form a mirrorlike surface. Iron minerals, on the other hand, break into fragments.

Oil spills, big and small, should always be reported by calling the emergency number 112. If you are unsure or there is very little substance in the water, you may also call the Espoo Environment Department, Mon-Fri from 10 am to 3 pm, tel. +358 9 8162 4832 or +358 9 8162 4842. It is important to notify the authorities immediately.

Where can I wash my car?

You can wash your car inside your own plot as long as you do not use solvents, and the washing water does not run into a rain water drain, a ditch, natural water body or a neighbour's plot. In other words, as long as the water gets absorbed into the ground on location, washing is allowed. Solvent wash, in turn, requires a drain connection fitted with an oil separator.