The changing fauna and flora of Finland – discovering the bigger picture through long-term data
To discern changes in nature during the current era of unprecedented biodiversity change, there is no alternative to systematic long-term data collection efforts. Finland holds a globally unique treasure trove of long-term ecological data series, each springing from its own origins, purposes and approaches. If sensibly used, these data provide a unique baseline for what was before, insight into current directions of change, and a scientifically sound foundation for informed policies. To leverage the mobilisation of these data, we conduct a basic SWOT analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats associated with our national data treasure. As Strengths, we identify the globally unique extent, depth and coverage of data. As Weaknesses, we identify the fragmented nature of data storage, access, and taxonomic coverage. As Opportunities, we show how new syntheses spanning across decades and taxa may reveal both the extent of and mechanisms behind biodiversity change. As Threats, we point to the alarming lack of long-term funding, legislation and coordination of these time series. We conclude that these data provide a unique potential for informing relevant policies – and that this potential can only be secured, tapped and maintained by transformative changes in national monitoring strategies, funding and legislation.