Project Kurenniemi – Cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail has been running for a year now. The project is funded within the framework of South-East Finland – Russia CBC Programme 2014–2020 and its objective is to create an ecological tourist route in Kyrönniemi, Russia, near the Finnish-Russian border. This article describes what has been achieved in developing Kyrönniemi towards a protected area and a versatile and interesting nature tourism destination.

Authors: Kaisu Isomäki & Katariina Pakarinen

The definition and establishment of protected areas require comprehensive ecological and environmental studies. As part of the work, a detailed description of the landscape and biodiversity of the area (both land and water) needs to be prepared. Description identifies valuable natural entities such as plants, fungi and animals. At the same time, the boundaries of the area need to be clarified and recommendations need to be given to the protection of the future nature reserve. Cadastral work and land registration needs to be done while planning and mapping suitable routes, structures, facilities, guidance and services for the area. (VOOP 2021a.)

Identifying valuable natural and cultural entities

Many different experts are involved in the development of the Kyrönniemi area and the conservation of area’s natural resources. In addition to project workers and designers, botanists, zoologists, ecologists, geologists are conducting a comprehensive study of the area during the project. (Zakharova 2021.)

Throughout the year 2021 experts have been studying and mapping out area’s plants and animals. For example, researchers have identified 111 different species of moss and 141 different species of lichen. Also 9 species of fish have been identified of which most are common around the coast of the Gulf of Finland. In total 35 species of liverworts have been found, of which 2 species are in the Red Data Book of the Leningrad Region. Liverworts are especially interesting indicator, as they tell a lot about the state of the environment. Also, an interesting finding has been the discovery of specific moss belonging to the genus of Aulacomnium which is listed on the Red Data Book of Russian Federation. (VOOP 2021b-e.)

Results of search trips described above have been shared for the public on the project website as well as in social media (VOOP 2021f). Website and VOOP’s Instagram posts have had thousands of views and Russian media has also shared articles and news of the project with 20 000 views. (VOOP 2021a.)

Closeup image of Calypogeia suecica.

Image 1: Biologists and other experts have studied the species of the territory to justify the establishment of the protected area (Doronina 2021)

Finding the most interesting routes and cleaning the area

During the summer of 2021 six nature trails were preliminarily mapped to the Kyrönniemi area. Mapped trails will highlight different aspects of the surrounding nature and local history. Some of the paths will follow the shores of the Gulf of Finland while others present forests and old structures (VOOP 2021a). In addition, designers have made plans for the build-in structures: an observation deck, a visitor center, a memorial site for Mikael Agricola, benches, gazebos and recreational zones.

In October 2021 the Leningrad Regional Branch of the All-Russian Society for the Nature Protection organized a large cleaning event in Kyrönniemi. With the help of 107 volunteers, 180 tons of various types of rubbish was cleared and 15 unauthorized structures built by tourists were demolished. (VOOP 2021g.)

Woman tearing down a shack and collecting garbage.

Image 2. Volunteers demolish illegal structures made by tourists. (Gorbachova 2021)

Benchmarking the best practices from Finland

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the LAB project team could not travel to Kyrönniemi during the first operative year, as it was originally planned. Instead, the Finnish project team studied the theme of nature tourism from several different perspectives. With the help of project meetings, benchmarking trips to nature destinations, studies, and publications the team has provided information from Finnish experiences in developing nature trails for the Russian partners.

Finnish project team visited different nature destinations in the areas of Päijät-Häme and South Carelia. As a result, an extensive benchmarking report Insights for developing nature and culture trails: based on benchmarking Finnish nature destinations was produced (LAB 2021a). Publication presents insights for developing nature and culture trails. Insights were collected from 18 Finnish nature destinations, which included national parks, ecological and cultural trails and ecological education and visiting centers. Additionally, the report includes lessons learned from each benchmarked destination and recommendations about actions to take into consideration when developing nature trails in general.

The team has also written articles from the following themes: how extended reality can help with creating unique nature experiences, how storification enhances experience and vitality in nature travel and how to engage visitors on nature destinations and trails with activities (Isomäki 2021; Isomäki & Pakarinen 2021; Mirola 2021). An article on the background and goals of the project was also written in the LAB Health annual review (LAB 2021c). All these articles offer interesting examples that could be taken into consideration when establishing the protected area in Kyrönniemi.

Wooden canopy with signposts to the national park.

Image 3: Entrance to the Repovesi National Park (Isomäki 2021)

Sharing information in expert roundtables and webinars

Sharing knowledge and learning together are important aspects of the project Kurenniemi. The first joint meeting for the experts of the project was held online in May and was organized by the lead partner of the project (LAB 2021d). All partners of the project presented their results so far followed with the planned next steps. The Finnish team asked experts from Kuolemajärvi Foundation and from Mikael Agricola Society to participate in the event and make their own presentations to shed light on the history of the area. The life events of Mikael Agricola were also presented as his story is part of the cultural history of Kyrönniemi.

The first public webinar under the theme Sustainable development of nature sites and routes was held at the beginning of December (LAB 2021e). It was organized by the project team of the LAB University of Applied Sciences. The webinar brought together Finnish nature tourism experts who discussed the themes of sustainable and responsible tourism, preservation of cultural heritage, nature conservation and accessible and socially sustainable tourism. The discussion after each presentation was active and the lead partner was very happy to receive detailed information from different points of views about how nature sites are developed in Finland.

Lush forest and gravel road along the lake Saimaa.

Image 4: Scenery along the benchmarked route Rantaraitti near the city of Lappeenranta (Image: Tuuli Mirola)

LAB project team`s plans for the upcoming year

According to the current plan, the benchmarking trips which were postponed from last autumn will be organized in spring 2022. The aim is to visit destinations especially in the region of South Karelia, Kymenlaakso and Päijät-Häme, such as Repovesi National Park and recreational area of Sarviniemi in the municipality of Taipalsaari. The area of Sarviniemi is of particular interest because of its extensive investment in the accessibility.

In February LAB project team organizes a themed webinar: “Wellness from nature experiences” (LAB 2022). Webinar will provide information for example from nature activities and travel trends in the national parks of Finland and about the importance of experience design in nature services.

This year, the LAB project team will study the themes of sustainable travel, future trends for travelling and designing of nature trails with customer-oriented mindset. The information collected will be compiled into publications during 2022.


Ekologiga 2021. Где могила Микаэля Агриколы? Кто нас накормит? Cited 13 Jan 2022. Available at

Isomäki, K. 2021. How storification enhances experience and vitality in nature travel. LAB Open. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

Isomäki, K. & Pakarinen, K. 2021. How extended reality can help with creating unique nature experiences. LAB Open. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

LAB. 2021a. Insights for developing nature and culture trails: based on benchmarking Finnish nature destinations. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

LAB. 2021b. How storification enhances experience and vitality in nature travel. LAB Open. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

LAB. 2021c. Developing a nature and culture trail in the Kyrönniemi Vyborg Region. In: Peltonen, K. & Hartikainen, A. LAB Health Annual Review 2021. The Publication Series of LAB University of Applied Sciences, part 30. Cited 10 Jan 2022. Available at

LAB. 2021d. Agenda, The FinAgRu-nat conference. Project website. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

LAB. 2021e. Sustainable development of nature sites and routes -webinar agenda. Project website. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

LAB. 2022. Wellness from nature experiences -webinar agenda. Project website. Cited 13 Jan 2022. Available at

Mirola. T. 2021. Activities engage visitors on nature destinations and trails. LAB Open. [Cited 17 Dec 2021]. Available at

VOOP. 2021a. Presentation in the webinar: Sustainable development of nature sites and routes held on 1st of December 2021.

VOOP. 2021b. На планируемой к созданию ООПТ «Кюрённиеми» была впервые исследована флора мхов. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

VOOP. 2021c. На планируемой к созданию ООПТ «Кюрённиеми» выявлен 141 вид лишайников и лихенофильных грибов. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

VOOP. 2021d. На планируемой к созданию ООПТ «Кюрённиеми» исследовалась ихтиофауна. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

VOOP. 2021e. На планируемой к созданию ООПТ «Кюрённиеми» обнаружили 2 вида печёночников из Красной книги Ленинградской области. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

VOOP 2021f. Новости проекта. Cited 16 Dec 2021. Available at

VOOP 2021g. 107 волонтеров, 15 самостроев и свыше 180 тонн мусора: на мысе Кюренниеми прошел субботник. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

Zakharova, M. 2021. В Выборгском районе будет создана особая природная зона. Gazeta Viborg. Cited 13 Jan 2022. Available at


IMAGE 1. Doronina, A. 2021. Cited 14 Jan 2021. Available at

IMAGE 2. Gorbachova, N. 2021. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available at

IMAGE 3. Isomäki, K. 2021. Teoksessa Benabad, D., Isomäki, K., Mirola, T. & Pakarinen, K. 2021. Insights for developing nature and culture trails : based on benchmarking Finnish nature destinations. LAB University of Applied Sciences. The Publication Series of LAB University of Applied Sciences. 62.


Kaisu Isomäki, ICT engineer and BBA, works as a project planner in the Business Unit of LAB University of Applied Sciences. In her work, Kaisu strives to solve problems with her technical expertise user-centered approach in mind.

Katariina Pakarinen, M.A. (Design) works as a RDI specialist / service designer in LAB University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Design and fine arts. Katariina is specially interested in nature travel, service design and futures thinking.

Illustration: Natalia Gorbachova

Published 26.1.2022

Reference to this article

Isomäki, K. & Pakarinen, K. 2022. First year outcomes in the Project Kurenniemi. LAB Pro. Cited and date of citation. Available at