Alexander Osipov & Jani Karhu
Maria Lähteenmäki, Jani Karhu and Aleksandr Osipov took part in the 9th International Congress of Arctic Social Science in Umeo, Sweden in the last week. Largescale scientific event encompassed about 800 scholars from all the world. 22 sections proposed broad field for researchers and were dedicated to different sciences: history and archeology, languages and literature, culture and health. Maria Lähteenmäki was a chief of chair Forced Migrations and Transnational Mobility in the Artic Nations. Jani Karhu and Aleksandr Osipov participated in the Arctic tourism session.
In his presentation, Jani Karhu introduced the main ideas and organization of GreenZoneProject and gave a short report concerning his case study. In his case study Karhu is concentrating on possibilities and challenges of ecotourism in three Finnish national parks inside the greenbelt area, Koli, Urho Kekkosen Park and Petkeljärvi.
Karhu opened the problematic and politically contradictory development of Koli national park. Tourism has long history in Koli, going back to the 19th century, but the national park is founded as late as 1991. When the park was founded, the ski resort and the hotel were left inside the park. This means limited possibilities to the growing of conventional tourism. Those who supported the vast development of the ski resort were against the national park.
After the park was founded, the nature tourism started slowly find its way to Koli and there are multiple possibilities to grow sustainable nature and history tourism. The cultural history of Koli is rich and the layers of history can be found from various places. Challenge is how to recognize and materialize all those possibilities and how to create important networks between different operators inside the area. Tourism is fluctuant field of business and the risks of single entrepreneurs are high, this raises the threshold to utilize all the possibilities of nature and history tourism.
The report of Aleksandr was dedicated to problems of ecotourism in the North Karelia and it’s focused on the Paanajärvi national park case study. The history of the Paanajärvi national park, which is an important part of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia, is not yet written. This study based on the TACIS reports and materials of local press of the Republic of Karelia, which were published in 1987 until nowadays on the Russian and Finnish languages. Those sources allow to trace the foundation of the park and also fascinating discussion about two alternative projects on this area – hydroaccumulative power station and the first touristic project ski mountain center.
The park foundation in May 1992 didn’t solve the main problems: lack of infrastructure and experience in organizing of tourism and weak financing. From the other hand foundation of the park had a negative impact to the close settlement Pjaozerskiy – center of forestry of the district. Usually we talk about the human impact to the environment but in this case the influence was mutual, because reduction of logging area led to population outflow from the settlement. In the early 1990-s nature did not considered as an object of tourism and recreational using but only as object of forestry.
Participation on some TACIS projects provided development of tourism infrastructure in the park and Pjaozerskiy became a center of tourism. However, TACIS projects and financing not became to panacea to the Paanajärvi and tourism is not an effective tool of economic of the region.
Work of the section allowed to definite similar problems of tourism in Arctic region, but approaches and solutions may be different.