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Nature reserve campaign kicks off in honour of Finland's centenary

Private land owners founded a campaign in January to devote some 3,600 hectares of land to nature reserves in honour of Finland's 100th anniversary. The campaign is off to a good start, with many people gifting parcels of land that are important to them personally.

Nature reserves like this one in Kurikka are a valuable gift to 100-year-old Finland. Image: Leo Kinnari

A campaign calling for land owners to create new nature reserves begun in January has started off well, with some 270 hectares of land already conserved in honour of Finland's centenary year.

The Environment Ministry says that the overall target of 3,600 hectares by the end of the year will likely be reached.

"A total of 273 new hectares of land from seven regions have now received nature reserve status," says Päivi Gummerus-Rautiainen from the Environmental Administration. "Applications from six other regions are in the works, representing an added area of a couple hundred hectares."

The campaign means to preserve at least 100 hectares of land from each of mainland Finland's 18 regions. The government pledges to preserve an equal amount of land for each donation.

"In terms of the actual numbers things are looking good. We still need to wait and see if all the regions pitch in. Most of the donations have come from Lapland," Gummerus-Rautiainen says.

Beloved landscapes

The criteria for areas eligible for the campaign are more lax than those for more official preservation programmes. As long as the land in question adheres to the stipulations in the 10th paragraph of the Conservation Act, the campaign will consider it for inclusion.

The characteristics of the donations have been varied.

"Land owners are not being offered any compensation for the areas they donate, so it's safe to assume that most of the areas will hold some personal significance for the owners themselves. Areas may also include idyllic cabin environs or hiking trails that would not be cut down regardless," Gummerus-Rautiainen says.

So far the largest single donation has come from Inari in northern Lapland, at 150 hectares. The smallest so far is from Joensuu, with a nature reserve of just 0.15 hectares.

Author donates 2.6 hectares

In Mikkeli, in South Savo, one of Finland's most celebrated living authors Eeva Kilpi has pledged 2.6 hectares of densely wooded coniferous forest to the campaign. The area features varied terrain types, from lush wetlands and wooded meadows to rocky forests with boulder clay cliffs.

Kilpi says her decision came from her own love for Savonian nature, which has been a boon for her prose and poetry since the 1970s. Many of her works have been inspired by or written in the locations she has donated to the campaign.

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