LIFE Project Cover Photo

Co-operation for improving the conservation of the Flying squirrel in Europe

Reference: LIFE17 NAT/FI/000469 | Acronym: Flying Squirrel LIFE



Within the EU, the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) is found in Finland and Estonia where it has unfavourable-inadequate conservation status. The squirrel is present at over 450 sites within the Natura 2000 network in Finland, but mainly inhabits suitable sites in commercial forests and urban areas across two-thirds of the country's length. In Estonia, it is found only in the north-east corner, inhabiting less than 50 separate forest patches.

The species' main threat is the loss and fragmentation of its habitat, mainly related to the effects of land use. The squirrel is listed in annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive which means core areas of its habitat must be managed in accordance with the ecological needs of the species and a strict protection regime must be applied across its entire natural range in the EU, both within and outside Natura 2000 sites. However, as the squirrel inhabits economically valuable forests, conflicts between interests are unavoidable. Moreover, its presence is often unexpected and knowledge on how to maintain essential forest areas is limited, both of which can cause delays in land use and unfavourable attitudes towards the squirrel.


The Flying Squirrel LIFE project's main goal is to improve the conservation status of the Siberian flying squirrel to favourable in Europe. It aims to increase the population in Finland from 100 000 to 150 000-200 000 and for occupied habitats in Estonia to rise from 49 to a minimum of 60, with at least 250-350 individuals in total. Flying Squirrel LIFE's specific objectives are to:

  • Prevent habitat loss and fragmentation;
  • Increase cooperation among key stakeholders relating to the squirrel and develop tools for fluent land-use planning;
  • Improve the quality and availability of data on the squirrel;
  • Increase the exchange of information between different stakeholders and the general public, and boost social approval of the squirrel’s conservation.
  • Expected results:

  • Protection of approximately 26 ha of squirrel habitat by purchasing land from private owners;
  • Improvement of habitats and connectivity of habitats at 22 sites in urban areas (almost 1 400 ha), including four within Natura 2000 sites;
  • Maintenance of around 1 570-1 950 ha of habitat networks by forest management (170-550 ha in Finland, minimum of 1 400 ha in Estonia);
  • Improved continuity of aspen in 16 sites (almost 230 ha), 10 within and six outside Natura 2000 sites;
  • Installation of 250 nest boxes to facilitate squirrel reproduction and improve survival within Natura 2000 sites;
  • Implementation of observation management system in Finland and a national flying squirrel inventory in Estonia (assisted by trained dogs);
  • Development of predictive maps illustrating the habitat network across the squirrel's range in the EU;
  • Best practice guidelines drawn up for urban areas to protect the squirrel within the goals of other land use;
  • Knowledge gathered for real decision-making from monitoring 22 city plans (covering an area of more than 1 070 ha), including a habitat network evaluation ofthe city plan for Espoo (area, 31 km2);
  • An optimised habitat network will be illustrated for the city of Jyväskylä (covering 147 km2). This involves habitat modelling to yield predictions, which are verified with radiotelemetry. The illustrated habitat network will then be used in real city planning processes; and
  • Education package for the forestry sector to maintain the squirrel in managed forests.


    Reference: LIFE17 NAT/FI/000469
    Acronym: Flying Squirrel LIFE
    Start Date: 01/08/2018
    End Date: 31/03/2025
    Total Budget: 8,886,666 €
    EU Contribution: 6,664,999 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Metshallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland
    Legal Status: PRIVATE
    Address: Ratakatu 11, FI01301, Vantaa, Finland Suomi
    Contact Person: Eija Hurme

    LIFE Project Map



    • Mammals


    • land use planning
    • monitoring
    • urban area
    • conflict of interests
    • forest management
    • Inventory


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)


    • 6530 - Fennoscandian wooded meadows
    • 9010 - Western Taïga
    • 9050 - Fennoscandian herb-rich forests with Picea abies
    • 9080 - Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods
    • 91D0 - Bog woodland


    • Pteromys volans


    Type Code Name
    SPA FI1103828 Syöte (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0321008 Aurejärvi (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0600001 Puijo (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0600002 Etelä-Kuopion lehdot ja lammet, Vanuvuori, Haminavuori (DEPRECATED)
    SPA FI0600032 Konnevesi-Kalaja-Niinivuori (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0600059 Korsumäki - Keinälänniemi (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0600062 Kolmisoppi-Neulamäki (DEPRECATED)
    SPA FI0900074 Haapasuo-Syysniemi-Rutajärvi-Kivijärvi (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI0900088 Palstonvuori-Jääskelä (DEPRECATED)
    SPA FI0900114 Katajaneva - Vuorilammen alue - Huhtalampi (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI1200225 Ulvinsalon alue (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI1200454 Ison Jänisjärven lehto ja letto (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI1200714 Huuhkajanlehto (DEPRECATED)
    SCI FI1200735 Riuskanselkonen (DEPRECATED)
    SPA EE0060209 Tudusoo (DEPRECATED)
    SCI EE0070103 Muraka (DEPRECATED)
    SCI EE0070104 Sirtsi (DEPRECATED)
    SCI EE0070175 Adraku (DEPRECATED)
    SCI EE0070187 Karusoo (DEPRECATED)


    Name Type
    Metshallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland Coordinator
    Keskkonnaamet (Environmental Board), Finland Participant
    Centre for Economic Development - Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland, Finland Participant
    Eesti Erametsaliit/The Estonian Private Forest Union, Estonia Participant
    City of Espoo, Finland Participant
    The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Finland Participant
    Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus - Helsinki University, Finland Participant
    City of Jyväskylä, Finland Participant
    Kuopio Natural History Museum / City of Kuopio, Finland Participant
    City of Kuopio, Finland Participant
    Luonnonvarakeskus (Natural Resources Institute Finland), Finland Participant
    Metsähallitus Metsätalous Oy, Finland Participant
    Metsakorralduse büroo limited company, Finland Participant
    Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, Finland Participant
    Centre of Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Carelia, Finland Participant
    Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo, Finland Participant
    Riigimetsa Majandamise Keskus (STATE FOREST MANAGEMENT CENTRE), Finland Participant
    Suomen metsäkeskus, Finland Participant
    Eestimaa Looduse Fond - Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonia Participant