The Barents Sea Office of WWF Russia and the Finnish Environment Institute organized a press tour to the Paanajärvi (Russia) and Oulanka (Finland) National Parks in the framework of the BPAN project in April 2013.
The aim was to get to know some of the pearls of the protected old-growth boreal forests, to learn about benefits gained from established parks, and to discuss the urgent need to develop protected area network in the Barents Region.
Journalists from Russia (Murmansk and Moscow), Finland and Norway participated in the trip.
Opening borders for nature tourists
Paanajärvi and Oulanka National Parks are located next to each other on both sides of the Finnish-Russian border. The parks have co-operated actively for years and have the PAN Parks certificate, which works to form a network of European wilderness areas where high quality tourism facilities are balanced with environmental protection and local sustainable development.
Director of the Oulanka National Park Matti Hovi highlighted during the visit the important role of the park for the local economy as it has provided possibilities for the local people to start businesses related to nature tourism, e.g. organizing nature excursions as well as providing accommodation and dining services for the visitors.
A threat for both of the parks is the planned mine in Kuusamo, Finland. The national parks and the local tourism sector see it as a big risk for nature tourism.
Common goal of the Paanajärvi and Oulanka parks is to open the state border and allow tourists to visit both parks at once, for example, by canoeing along the Oulanka River from Finland to Russia. One of the on-going activities is preparation of a mutual exhibition to the visitor centers of both national parks.
Urgent need to establish new protected areas
The concept to develop the protected area network in the Russian Federation by the year 2020 includes establishment of the Khibiny National Park in the Murmansk Region and the Ladoga Skerries National Park in the Republic of Karelia. Also enlargement of the Paanajärvi National Park in the Murmansk Region by including the Kutsa areas is planned.
The process to establishing these parks has taken years. Nature in all the planned protected areas is unique also in international context. In addition to protection, the areas provide excellent possibilities to develop nature tourism.
- Hiljaisuus himottaa turistia (Helsingin Sanomat 6.5.2013)
- Национальный парк: как это работает? (Мурманскииий вестник 27.4.2013)
- Нацпарк “Оуланка – Паанаярви” будет развивать водный туризм (Риа Новости 23.4.2013)
- Заповедный этикет (Ведомости 24.5.2013)
- Экологи и СЗФК договорились о будущем мурманского нацпарка “Хибины” (Риа Новости 19.4.2013)
- Нацпарк “Хибины” в Мурманской области будет создан в 2015 году (Риа Новости 23.4.2013)
- Den glemte skogen (WWF Magasin Verdens Natur 2/ 2013, pdf)
More to be updated.