New national park designated in Kainuu, eastern Finland

Agriculture and Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen has nominated Hossa in the Kainuu region of eastern Finland to be the country’s newest national park. The designation will take effect from 2017, when Finland celebrates 100 years of independence.

Retkeilijä katselee kalliomaalauksia Hossan Retkeilyalueella, Värikalliolla.
Trekkers admire rock paintings at Värikallio in the Hossa camping area. Image: Sini Salmirinne / Yle

Hossa, which lies in Suomussalmi in the Kainuu region, beat out Porkkala in southwest Finland for the honour of becoming the country’s latest national park. The total area of the new national park is roughly 11,000 hectares and is part of the Natura 2000 network of nature conservation areas in the European Union. The heart of the national park will be the 9,000-hectare Hossa camping area.

The most notable natural attractions include the Julma-Ölky canyon lake and Stone Age rock art at Värikallio, estimated to be some 5,000 years old.

According to the Ministry the final selection was influenced by the fact that the establishment of a national park would further advance recreational and camping use and related business activity in the area – both of which would have a major impact on employment and the local economy.

The park’s location also holds significance from the perspective of Finland’s journey toward independence and its preservation. The Winter War against the Soviet Union was waged in Suomussalmi in 1939 – 1940 and it was the location of a major national convention where Finland called for independence in 1917.

In a separate release, Metsähallitus, the organisation responsible for national parks management and other conservation work, said that it would begin rolling out a programme of improvement works to upgrade Hossa to national park standard by June 2017.

Nature reserve for Porkkala

Having lost the bid to achieve national park status, Porkkala in Kirkkonummi southwest Finland, will instead have a nature reserve designated on state lands. The reserve will comprise parts of the archipelago, shallows and open sea in Kirkkonummi and Inkoo.

The area will be developed by improving guide and service facilities. A separate study will be launched to examine the options for conservation and development of recreational services in coastal, archipelagic and marine areas in Kirkkonummi, Siuntio and Inkoo. Pekka Poutanen of the Kirkkonummi environmental association said that it is still possible that Porkkala could be designated a national park later on.

The current government targeted the establishment of a new national park for the country’s 100th anniversary of independence as one of its key projects. It has earmarked three million euros for the project, of which 2.5 million will be used to develop Hossa as a national park. About half a million euros will be spent on bringing Porkkala up to the standard of a nature reserve.

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