The Green Belt of Fennoscandia will be developed into a model area where sustainable development is supported through transboundary cooperation. The Green Belt extends from the Baltic Sea to the Arctic Ocean, and includes valuable natural areas belonging to Finland, Russia and Norway. Its core is formed of national parks and protected areas on the territories of all three nations.
The Ministry of the Environment has appointed a national working group to promote the development of the Green Belt in Finland. The tasks of the working group include raising awareness of the Green Belt in Finland and supporting the networking taking place across national boundaries.'We are entering a new phase in the history of the Green Belt. For the first time, all actors central for the future of the Green Belt in Finland come together in one place. This is a group of people that will no doubt possess the courage and the capability to openly discuss how the Green Belt is perceived, what opportunities it holds and how these numerous opportunities can be realised through cooperation,' stated the chair of the working group, Permanent Secretary Hannele Pokka, as she opened the seminar organised in connection with the initial meeting of the working group on 18 March 2014 in Joensuu.
The working group consists of forty actors from different parts of Finland, including the representatives of six regional councils. Its term of office will extend to the end of 2020, in accordance with the objectives of the International Convention on Biological Diversity.
The sustainable development of the border area is based on a healthy and species-rich wildlife, the sustaining of which requires a strong united perspective on the future of the region. In addition to the work performed nationally, the Green Belt is being developed through cooperation between Finland, Russia and Norway. During 2014, objectives and the measures to achieve them will be drafted for the tripartite cooperation. All Green Belt operators from the three countries are invited to join the planning work.
Unique nature and a vital border area that also provides jobs
The nature in the Green Belt is unique: it contains original, natural, boreal forests and valuable wetlands such as mires and birdfowl habitats, lakes and rivers. The Green Belt is an important ecological corridor along which various organisms may move from their current areas of distribution and adjust to the impacts of the climate change.
Business activities have emerged around the natural sites that now constitute significant sources of jobs from the local perspective. According to Metsähallitus, in 2013 the national parks and the most important hiking areas located in the Finnish areas of the Green Belt generated more than EUR 50 million worth of income and provided more than 700 person-years of employment for the nearby areas.
The idea for the Green Belt of Fennoscandia first emerged in a Finnish-Russian community of researchers at the start of the 1990s. A significant proportion of cooperation to protect biodiversity in areas in the vicinity of our borders is currently being carried out in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia. The cooperation between Finland, Russia and Norway is based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2010 on cooperation and development as concerns the Green Belt.
The parties to the cooperation apply the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, for example, as concerns the mainstreaming of biodiversity across government and society and sustaining the benefits provided by nature, i.e. ecosystem services.
Aino Rekola, Co-ordinator for the Green Belt of Fennoscandia project, Ministry of the Environmenttel. +358 295 250 352, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristiina Niikkonen, Environment Counsellor, Ministry of the Environmenttel. +358 295 250 198, email@example.com
Merja Pylkkänen, Secretary to Hannele Pokka, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environmenttel. +358 295 250 239, firstname.lastname@example.org