Luotonen, H. et al. River Koitajoki project in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia

River Koitajoki project in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia: A cross-border catchment approach on nature conservation, restoration of habitats, water protection and development of sustainable use of natural resources

Luotonen, Hannu, Hokkanen, Timo J. and Käki, Tiina

Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment for North Karelia

River Koitajoki project is a part of FRESHABIT Towards Integrated Management of Freshwater Natura 2000 Sites and Habitats project (LIFE Integrated Project Nature - programme). FRESHABIT is co-ordinated by Parks & Wildlife Finland and it includes eight pilot areas from Finland. The project is to start in early 2016 and it will be carried out by Centres for Economic Development, Transport and Environment in North Karelia and in North Savo, Parks & Wildlife Eastern Finland, Finnish Forest Centre, Finnish Environment Institute and Natural Resources Institute Finland. Also municipality of Ilomantsi and several companies, associations and citizens will participate.

The first section of the project monitors the state of biodiversity and restoration on catchment scale. Mire and water ecosystems and habitats depending on groundwater are in focus. Altogether 11 000 hectares of catchment areas, 3000 hectares of mires and 16 km of river channels and 17 km of ravine brooks will be restored. In River Ala-Koitajoki the spawning areas of the highly endangered Salmo salar m. sebago will be restored to nearly natural conditions. Also the spawning areas of endangered, densely-rakered whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus f. nilssoni) will be restored.

The second section of the project processes the data of environmental monitoring of Lake Iso Hietajärvi area (Integrated Monitoring (IM) Programme of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems). Based on the data, scenarios of the impacts of climate change on the nature protection will be produced.

The third section of the project is focused on the development of sustainable use of natural resources. Especially forestry, peatland ditching and peat mining activities are studied. New operation models will be developed together with local companies, organizations and citizens, to better reconcile the economic activities and conservation of biodiversity and landscape values. The project also studies the impacts of restoration activities on ecosystem services (especially mires).

Koitajoki river connects many-sidedly the nature of the Republic of Karelia and province of North Karelia (Finland). The restoration activities done together with the local population are a concrete and important part of realisation of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia in the region.

Last modified: September 22, 2015