The first international Green Belt of Fennoscandia Dialogue Forum was held on 18th to 20th November in Kuusamo, Finland. The main message of the Forum was that there is strong mutual understanding on the priorities of developing the Green Belt and on the cooperation between Finland, Russia and Norway in biodiversity conservation in the future. Various themes were in discussion. Also the findings of the BPAN project on the needs to develop protected area network were presented in presentations by Olle Höjer, Swedish Environment Agency, Tapio Lindholm, Finnish Environment Institute and Jyri Mikkola, Finnish Nature League, the members of the BPAN expert group and steering committee.
In the Forum the strategy for the Green Belt of Fennoscandia was introduced and participants discussed on its implementation and mainstreaming. The strategy defines the concept of the Green Belt network as well as the joint vision and thematic targets for the cooperation until 2020. It is also acknowledged that as a part of the European Green Belt, the Green Belt of Fennoscandia forms a mechanism for participation in wider European cooperation within this field. The strategy has been prepared in an open participatory process with Finnish, Russian and Norwegian stakeholders.
The joint priorities are defined in the strategy work as a basis for the future actions which were also discussed and planned in the Forum. The results of the ending projects, their lessons learned and best practices were presented as well. There are various financing opportunities available for launching new projects. In addition to launching projects it was seen important that the Green Belt targets are integrated into various existing processes in the Green Belt area. It was recalled that business sector should be involved more with the implementation of the Green Belt activities especially related sustainable use of natural resources and developing the connectivity between the protected areas.
Many new stakeholders have joined the cooperation during the year and the Forum supported also their networking and raised awareness on the values of the Green Belt also as a part of the global biodiversity. The Forum brought together over 70 policy makers, researchers, officials and other stakeholders from five countries. As a conclusion of the Forum it was highlighted that open dialogue between stakeholders on reconciling biodiversity, sustainable use of natural resources as well as perspectives of economic, cultural and social development is a prerequisite for the Green Belt in pursuit of becoming a model area where unique biodiversity gives rise to growth and well-being.
Along the BPAN, Green Belt of Fennoscandia is also one of the priority projects of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council’s nature protection subgroup.
Material and the presentations of the Forum as well as the list of participants are now available at www.ym.fi/greenbelt > Dialogue Forum