The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation has initiated a unique conservation project together with Visit Salla

The purpose of the campaign is to purchase, restore and conserve a forested area with support from tourists and regional enterprises. What makes the campaign special is the ability of donors to target their support to their chosen nature type and keep track of the progress of the conservation efforts.

A diverse nature area up the Salla Oulankajoki river in the Kalliokoski area was chosen as the campaign destination. This is a 33-hectare forest situated on both sides of the river, including over an old-growth coniferous forest, 90-year-old pine and mixed wood forests, a pine mire to be restored, an open fen, a peatland meadow as well as a flooded forest and spruce mire.

The donation can be targeted at one’s chosen habitat. By visiting the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation’s website, the donors can keep track of how much money has been donated to each nature type and how the project is progressing.

“For a long time, Visit Salla has been looking for a way for tourists, businesses, and everyone else could take part in the protection of diverse local nature. We are excited to get this campaign going together with the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation”, says Salla Tourism Manager Paula Aspholm.

Conservation Manager Ari-Pekka Auvinen of the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation thinks it is important to take actions that simultaneously slow down climate change and prevent biodiversity loss´.

“By participating in the “Give back to local nature in Salla” campaign, friends of local nature can be sure that their donations will permanently increase the volume of carbon storage and the quality of habitats available to the Siberian jays, capercaillies, and other native forest species in the area”, Auvinen says.

The target for the campaign is to collect the money needed for buying the forest and to cover restoration and management costs. For example, there are some old forest drainage ditches in the area, which are planned for filling. Participating tourists in the restoration efforts is to be surveyed as the project progresses.

An agreement with the seller exists for the sale of the forest. The forest is being sold by three siblings born in Salla. One of them is Mirja, who summarises their sentiments:

“We want this area revive back to the way it was before the reconstruction era after the Second World War. This our way to pay respect to our parents for their efforts, especially our mother, who was an outdoor person and from whom this land was inherited. Having a home in the forest and the surrounding nature have always been important resources in life. It is always good to go back.”

The campaign also seeks to improve the living conditions of woodland species. Image: Visit Salla/Anniina Olkkonen

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Old forests still sold for felling – the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation offers an alternative

The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation, which promotes the protection of Finnish nature, is concerned about the slow progress of forest protection in Finland. The situation is illustrated well by the fact that the Foundation is not even able to acquire and protect all the areas of old forest that are for sale publicly. The main challenge is the lack of funding.
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