Finnish Museum of Natural History

Ex-Situ Conservation of Finnish Native Plant Species

Key Questions

What is ESCAPE?

The word ESCAPE comes from name ot the project "Ex-Situ Conservation of Finnish Native Plant Species"

What is ex-situ conservation?

Ex-situ conservation is defined as protection of an organism 'off-site' i.e. outside its native habitat.

Why to conserve ex-situ?

Conservation in natural habitats (in situ) is simply not enough. In Europe, the conservation status of more than half of the habitats and species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats directive is classified as unfavourable, and the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 was not achieved.

How does ex-situ conservation help in-situ conservation?

From ex-situ collections, conserved in the form of living plants, stored seeds, and tissue cultures, plants can be reintroduced to their original or, where necessary, ecologically restored habitats. Alternatively, new areas considered to provide more favourable living conditions as climate change proceeds, can be targeted.

Is ex-situ conservation really needed in Finland?

Yes. The seemingly pristine large habitat areas such as boreal forests are, in fact, often fragmented to a degree that has an impact on the survival of many species. Moreover, the state of Finland is committed to the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). Hence, the proportion of threatened plant taxa in ex-situ conservation should be increased from less than 20% (situation now) to 75% by 2020.

What biodiversity problems does ESCAPE target?

The loss of biodiversity through the extinction of native species is an irreversible process and one of the key threats to the long-term existence of mankind. Problems that can be alleviated in ESCAPE:

  • Diminishing distribution areas of wild plant species
  • Reduction in genetic diversity in native plant populations
  • Hybridization between alien and native species
  • Spread and problems caused by invasive species
  • Illegal collecting

What are project objectives?

ESCAPE-project aims to:

  1. Implement the national action plan for ex-situ conservation of threatened native plants (strategy)
  2. Develop methods and new combinations of conservation means in order to increase the population size and ensure the genetic diversity of threatened plant species in Finland.
  3. Use ex-situ conserved plant material and test the possibilities for assisted migration (AM, i.e. transfer to a new site) and also reintroduction of plant species to sites from where they have disappeared.
  4. Compile instructions for ex-situ plant protection methodology for conservation officers responsible of local species protection activities in Finland. Furthermore, exhibitions and seminars will be arranged in order to increase the knowledge among the decision-makers, the general public, and the future influentials, school children and their teachers.

Who are we?

ESCAPE is coordinated by the Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History (LUOMUS) in the University of Helsinki (see map)

Associated beneficiaries are:
Botanical Gardens of the University of Oulu (see map)
Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus and
Finnish Environment Institute

Contact details (email:
Dr. Marko Hyvärinen, project leader
Dr. Sanna Laaka-Lindberg, project coordinator 
In co-operation with:



In Finnish and in Swedish:



Dianthus superbus. Photo Henry Väre

Person in charge of the page: 
Sanna Laaka-Lindberg