The decision of Russian Government from the 28 December 2017 confirmed the establishment of the Ladoga Skerries National Park. This decision summarized 30 years discussion around the park between scholars, local and central authorities, and local people. The importance of the Ladoga Skerries cannot be overestimated: the establishment of the park provide the missing link of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia. The park is located on the north cost of Ladoga, its area is 1220 km² and it includes coast, water area, and approximately 500 islands. This is unique natural complex combining rare species of animals and plants, objects of cultural and historical heritage (about 65), and popular tourism destination.
The first idea of the national park appeared in the end of 1980-s according to the proposal of scholars of Karelian Branch of Academy of Science. The proposal was supported by the Government of the Republic of Karelia and by the European Union. The project “Ladoga Skerries National Park”, sponsored by the EU started in 1999. 3,5 mln. euro were spent for the detailed project description envisaged the establishment of solid infrastructure and business plan for the tourism development. Unfortunately, this project stayed on the paper.
The attitude of local population to the park was negative for a long time due to the concept of national park is relatively young and unclear in Russian context. Numerous meetings in the Sortavala and Lahdenpohja regions revealed fears and anxiety of local population: they stressed that the establishment of the park will hinder entrance to the area. However, when timber and stone quarry industries occupied this area it become clear, that national park is the best way for the region.
According to the modern project of the park, just 3% of the area are strictly reserved, other territory are available for tourists. Unfortunately, during the longtime discussion nature of some islands was destroyed or consumed. Nevertheless, territory of Ladoga Skerries National Park has a huge potential for tourism. I suppose that convenient location of the park, closeness to the Blue Highway, connecting Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia and closeness to the main attractions in the Republic of Karelia Valaam Monastery and Ruskeala Lake will provide tourism flow during the whole year. This is a perfect opportunity to connect cultural and historical heritage with nature wilderness on the coasts of the biggest lake in Europe.
Maps from the National Archive of the Republic of Karelia