Finding Solutions in Collaboration – Selecting Areas And Increasing Awareness

Inside perspective on the second Finnish MAG Meeting by Juhani Pyykkönen and Henna Konu

What is needed to implementa model for payment for landscape and ecosystem services in Kuusamo?

Realizing the model of paying for landscape and ecosystem services has three critical issues, namely selecting the forest areas to be compensated, organising the fund collection and payments, and increasing awareness of the activities. The second multi-actor group meeting held in Kuusamo focused on these central topics.

During the meeting, it was noted that development of this kind of model in the region is very topical and interesting, as, since the beginning the SINCERE project, the hot topics of climate change, maintaining biodiversity and the sustainable use of forest resources are becoming even hotter.

Diverse approaches bring new perspectives

Selection of areas to be compensated

The starting point of the meeting was to illustrate and present information that is applied when selecting the central forest areas to be compensated. During the meeting, stakeholders were presented with  maps showing diverse ecosystem services, valuable and sensitive landscapes, biodiversity hotspots, water catchment areas, forest stands as carbon sinks and storages and also forest for producing wood. The material was put on the walls of the meeting room, which enabled participants to gain a better idea of the diverse qualities of the areas. With these visual aids, they could locate themselves or their activities on the maps, compare different spatial layers of information, and find possible interactions and conflicts. This led to lively discussions. This kind of informative and participatory planning process was experienced positively and hence regarded as a good approach for this kind of development activity.

Organising the collection of funds.

Background work including diverse possibilities for collecting the funds for the model was presented and discussed. The main discussion was connected to two topics: 1) who is going to pay; and 2) who is managing the process. During the meeting, participants were supportive of both suggestions related to the administration of the model; however, the final decision of the management model can be made later when legislative issues are clarified. In the meeting, it was agreed that at this point, finance should be based on voluntary payments of visitors and additionalsupport gained from tourism companies.

Raising awareness

Awareness raising related to the landscape and recreational value trade, was the final topic to be presented. Suggested activities focused on raising awareness among the general public, with tourists and tourism businesses as potential funders. IT was noted that the “selling points” should emphasise diverse values, benefits and  motivation to contribute: e.g. improving the quality of the landscape and nature, gaining well-being from nature, providing benefits for local stakeholders. Discussions highlighted that it was essential to bring forth the most important and interesting benefits for businesses, such as possibile CO² compensation.

Importance of positive attitudes and collaboration

Positive attitudes during the whole meeting helped to have productive discussions aroundeach topic. Participants also suggested new ideas for possible solutions e.g. related to collaboration activities in the area. The discussions and new ideas also help to develop the activities further.

Willingness to pay is based on both benefits and responsibility at personal, corporate, national and EU levels. We are aware of that, when we now take the next concrete steps in Kuusamo and its forests.

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