Forest and mire nature
Forests occupy nearly 60 per cent, 18,700 ha, of Espoo's land mass. Of these, a relative large proportion, some 2,300 hectares, is protected, including the Nuuksio National Park. In 2008, Espoo received the World Conservation Union's Countdown 2010 best initiative award for its decision to honour the 550th anniversary of the City by protecting forests. Protected nature reserves include 81 forest areas.
The largest forests are located in Nuuksio, Pirttimäki, Luukki and the Central Park, in addition to which there are herb-rich forests and old-growth forests in different parts of the city. The majority of forests in Espoo are spruce- or pine-dominated coniferous forests with some mixed deciduous trees. Espoo belongs to the hemiboreal vegetation zone with hazels and oaks and other hardwoods growing in lush groves.
The city owns some 5,500 hectares of forest and more than 3,000 hectares of zoned green spaces. Wooded green areas and street-side parks form the backbone of its urban landscape. Well-maintained and pleasant forest areas add to citizen's well-being and increase the value of residential areas. At the same time, city-owned forests offer everyone a chance for relaxation and nature experiences. Forest areas are maintained so that the citizens may enjoy them as places for recreation and outdoor activities and as comfortable urban environments. Thinning is performed as needed.
Mires – ecosystems and energy
Mires are biotic communities where vegetation produces peat. Mires vary from meagre bogs to rich fens, and from spruce mires to pine bogs. Swamps are quaking bogs formed by floodwaters. The cool and moist climate and flat Finnish terrain add to the amount of wetlands. The oldest of them date back some 10,000 years, when the continental ice sheet began to retreat. In addition, mires are formed due to the paludification of forests and waterway overgrowth.
Similarly to forests, mires are important not only to the numerous flora and fauna using them as habitats, but also to us humans in the form of so-called ecosystem services. Wetlands prevent floods, purify water, store carbon and provide places for recreation and outdoor activities. Peat production can also be considered an ecosystem service, though it causes damage to the ecosystem itself and to the other services and benefits provided.