PRESS RELEASE Oulanka-Paanajärvi – opportunities provided by nature and cooperation

May 15, 2006

The twin parks of Oulanka and Paanajärvi National Parks form a unique wilderness area and a destination for nature-oriented tourism. The ongoing Interreg project will deepen this cooperation with the aim to reinforce the parks’ position as the most important resource for nature-based tourism in the area. Cooperation between Oulanka and Paanajärvi National Parks started more than ten years ago and continues through the two-year (2005–2007) Interreg project “Oulanka-Paanajärvi – wilderness, experiences and well-being”, which is part of the Euregio Karelia Neighbourhood Programme. The project is managed by Metsähallitus, Natural Heritage Services, Ostrobothnia, and representatives of tourism, research and local municipalities are involved in its funding and implementation. Principal funding for the project consists of a share from the European Regional Development Fund and the national matching funding by the Ministry of the Environment. The aim of the project is to improve the preconditions of nature-based tourism by developing the twin parks’ services. This will contribute to the creation of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Nature is the basis for nature-oriented tourism and the recreational use of nature all over the world. For this reason, nature-oriented tourism should not threaten natural values and it ought to respect the local culture. The project examines the sustainability of nature-based tourism and recreational use of nature in Oulanka National Park for future development needs. As nature-oriented tourism becomes more international and the demand changes, there will be a need for an increasing number of guides who are specialised in sites of visit and site-specific information. The project includes the development of a training system for nature guides as well as principles governing the certification of guides for Oulanka National Park. Moreover, a book will be published on the history of Oulanka National Park, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2006. The project will provide visitors with information on the diversity of the natural values of the area and encourage them to explore natural sites of visit in various parts of the area. The goal is to avoid congestion and erosion in certain areas. To this end, the project will set up electronic information points and produce material on visitor guidance and nature interpretation. For more information, please contact: Sanna-Kaisa Juvonen, Project Manager, tel. +358 205 64 6836 “Oulanka-Paanajärvi – wilderness, experiences and well-being” project

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