The following tasks come under the environment and natural resources area of responsibility:

Reporting and monitoring the state of the environment

ELY Centres monitor the state of the environment and the changes in it. The state of the environment is monitored using biological, physical, chemical and other variables and by analysing interaction between them. 

The ELY Centres use the information on environmental loading collected by means of environmental monitoring and research as a basis for their decisions, opinions and plans.   ELY Centres also collect and publish information about the state of the environment in the areas coming under them for other parties such as regional councils and ordinary citizens.

ELY Centres also monitor the algae situation in the regions. Municipal environmental officials and other algae observers submit their algae findings collected at observation points to the ELY Centres, which forward the information to the Finnish Environment Institute. The Finnish Environment Institute compiles the information and prepares a nationwide algae bulletin and an algae map every Wednesday during the summer monitoring period.

Nature conservation and landscape protection

ELY Centres help to secure biodiversity by establishing nature conservation areas on private land and by purchasing areas for the state for the purposes of conservation. They help to ensure strong populations of indigenous and established species and preserve their areas of distribution. ELY Centres conduct inventories of natural habitats laid down in the Nature Conservation Act in the regions coming under them and decide on their boundaries.

ELY Centres promote and supervise nature conservation and landscape protection. They are closely involved in projects aimed at restoring and managing important traditional landscapes.  ELY Centres also work to safeguard the protection of natural values in land use planning.

Environmental protection

ELY Centres promote the protection of air, water and soil and manage the environmental protection tasks laid down for them. In order to increase environmental awareness, ELY Centres coordinate regional co-operation in the field of environmental education. In addition to the general promotion of environmental protection, ELY Centres also have permit and supervisory duties under the Environmental Protection Act, Water Act and the Waste Act. Consideration of notifications of contaminated soil is a responsibility of the ELY Centres. 

ELY Centres supervise adherence to the environmental and water permits granted by regional state administrative agencies and ensure that public interest is taken into account in environmental and water issues. Environmental permits are granted by regional state administrative agencies and municipal environmental protection authorities. The operations requiring environmental permits are supervised throughout the entire life-cycle of the operations. ELY Centres and municipal environmental protection authorities act as the supervisory authorities.

ELY Centres act as contact authorities in impact assessments carried out in accordance with the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedures and issue opinions in environmental impact assessments of plans and programmes. In an environmental impact assessment, the negative and positive impacts of a project, plan or programme on humans, nature, built environment and natural resources are identified and assessed.

In their capacity as oil spill response authorities, ELY Centres work to prevent and combat environmental pollution and damage. Environmental damage arises if dangerous or explosive substances are released or may be released to the soil, water, sewage systems or the atmosphere. Such damage includes oil spills, factory fires, chemical accidents and accidents involving tanker trucks or trains carrying dangerous substances.

ELY Centres assess the environmental damage caused by the accident in collaboration with the rescue authorities, assist the authorities and any operator involved, provide information about the situation, make decisions on follow-up measures, organise the monitoring of the situation and the environment from an environmental protection perspective and issue orders so that emergencies can be avoided. 

Steering and monitoring of land use

ELY Centres promote and steer land use planning and the organisation of construction activities in municipalities. They take part in the preparation of regional land use plans, steer and supervise local master planning and local detailed planning and decide on such matter as special permits for shore construction.

ELY Centres promote the maintenance of cultural environments and the preservation of the cultural heritage by steering land use planning in municipalities, by granting assistance for the management of built heritage and by making decisions on the protection of buildings in accordance with the Act on the Protection of Buildings. 

Use and management of water resources

ELY Centres promote the good condition and usability of waterways by providing expert assistance in the restoration of water areas and by participating in project planning and implementation in co-operation with municipalities, other authorities and the parties carrying out the restoration. They also promote flood protection and prevention by encouraging construction outside flood risk areas. ELY Centres also take part in prevention measures carried out during floods.

ELY Centres supervise and steer regulation of inland waterways so that water levels and flows are in accordance with the objectives set out for the use of waterways and the state of the environment.  They are also responsible for dam safety.

Municipalities are responsible for the general development and organisation of the water supply. ELY Centres are responsible for the supervision of water supply, guidance of planning and targeting of financial support in their own areas.