This article introduces national and international ideas of diverse activities for visitors on nature destinations and trails. The activities have been studied as part of project Kurenniemi – cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail, which aims to establish a nature reserve status and build nature trails on the Cape Kyrönniemi area in Leningrad Region in Russia. Expertise in developing eco-tourism and nature trails in Russia and Finland is collected and exchanged during the project.
Author: Tuuli Mirola
Seasonal activities add versatility around the year
Local authorities, organizations and associations create different types of seasonal and popup nature activities. For example, in Lappeenranta, the town organized one-hour walking events open for everyone on the Rantaraitti lakeside route weekly during spring 2021 (Lappeenranta 2021a, 11).
During winter, many walking routes are turned into ski trails. This adds to the versatility of activities around the year. For example, the ski trail in Pappilanniemi nature reserve is maintained by the city of Lappeenranta. In winter 2020-2021 the trail was reserved for skijoring two evenings per week (Lappeenranta 2021b). Skijoring is a winter sport in which a person on skis is pulled by a dog.
Nature trails offer possibilities to observe local flora and fauna. Therefore, many ornithological societies are organizing trips, events and guidance on destinations and trails. One popular events in Finland is the annual Pihabongaus bird-watching weekend in January. In 2020, there were 23 500 participants in almost 16 000 locations around Finland. (BirdLife Suomi 2021) For example, the local society Ekly organized guided Pihabongaus event in Pappilanniemi nature reserve in Lappeenranta.
Activities do not necessarily require heavy organization or maintenance. Sometimes posters along the route are enough. For example, there are several code-hunting trails in Lappeenranta in 2021. (Lappeenranta 2021c) The idea is that the code hunter searches for the code-hunt posters with QR-codes located on the trails and completes the given activity task of each code. The tasks are currently physical exercise activities, but they could also include activities related to nature culture.
Another example of well-being activities is the Rakkauspolku Love path organized in Lappeenranta in November 2021. Love paths were part of the national couples’ week activities in Finland organized to enhance the well-being of individuals and families. The path contained 12 activity tasks for to be completed by partners/spouses. They encouraged couples to discuss their relationship and focus on all the good things in it and in each other. (MLL Kaakkois-Suomen piiri 2021)
Picture 1. Rakkauspolku Love path (Photo: Tuuli Mirola)
Individuals create innovative popup activities
Active citizens often find very creative ways to create and incorporate activities on nature trails. Sometimes these activities are inspired by the trails themselves, sometimes the trails are just used as a stage or forum for the activities.
LAB University of Applied Sciences students Jasmin Lier and Minna Heikkinen have created a photo exhibition called Unohdetut Suomen mytologian naiset (Forgotten women on Finnish mythology) in Lappeeranta. (Virtanen 2021, 5). The local Kuvataidekoulu art school also creates student art exhibitions outdoors. In winter 2021 they presented ice sculptures. (Lappeenrannan kaupunki 2021) Another example of artistic projects is in the Juupajoki Gorge nature reserve. Almost 50 moss creatures created by volunteers can be found on the area. The stories of each creature can be accessed via QR-codes along the trail. (Isomäki 2021)
Picture 2. Outdoor photo exhibition (Photo: Tuuli Mirola)
The Singing with nightingales events have been created by the folk singer Sam Lee in Sussex England. He takes the participants to a forest on a location where the nightingales are singing. Lee joins the bird by singing and the guest musician improvises along. The bird is always the star in the concert. Many participants have told that the event has been a turning point in their relationship to nature. During the Covid-19 pandemic lockout, almost 50000 listeners participated on the first online broadcast all around the world. (Ahola 2021)
Geocaching also brings people to nature destinations around the world. In this modern treasure hunt participants use GPS devices or maps to find geocaches hidden by other enthusiasts in interesting places, including protected areas and national parks. (Metsähallitus 2021) Geocaching encourages people to visit nature destinations and enjoy trails in an innovative and exciting way.
Volunteer activities increase the sense of commitment
One way of enjoying nature destinations is by volunteering. Volunteering encourages people to pay attention to nature protection and contribute by their own actions. This increases the sense of commitment and community. Campaigns area announced by the local authorities and organizations. To participate, specific skills or previous experience is typically not required.
As part of the project Kurenniemi – cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail (VOOP 2021), an event was organized to clean up the Cape Kyrönniemi area in Leningrad Region in Russia in October 2021. 107 volunteers of the Leningrad Region Branch of the All-Russian Society for nature conservation collected and removed more than 200 m3, over 180 tons of junk from the area. For example, 15 unauthorized buildings were demolished. (Savenko 2021)
LUT University and the LAB University of Applied Sciences organized a volunteering day for charity in 2021 to encourage their employees to do charity work and promote sustainability. A total of 115 staff members signed up. Participants were, for example, cleaning hiking trails and doing landscaping in the wetland area near the university campus in Lappeenranta. (LAB 2021)
WWF together with Metsähallitus have organized a volunteer campaign in Nuuksio National Park in 2021 to demolish 123 unauthorized campfire sites. Previous year, the respective campaign cleared out 350 campfire sites. Unauthorized fire sites a major forest fire risk and lead to chopping down living trees and using fallen trees as firewood, which is strictly forbidden in national parks. Making fire is only allowed on official fire sites in national parks. (WWF 2021)
Another WWF volunteer campaign was organized to weed 46 sacks of lupine from the environmentally valuable nature reserve areas in Nuuksio National Park. (Perttu 2021) Garden lupine reduces the total number of insects and threatens the habitats of endangered meadow plants. It is included in the national list of invasive alien species. (Vieraslajit.fi 2021a) Similar volunteer activity to weed Himalayan balsam along Rantaraitti nature trail in Lappeenranta was organized as part of the national campaign against invasive alien species during the summer 2021 (Vieraslajit.fi 2021b). Himalayan balsam has been listed as an invasive alien species throughout the European Union (Vieraslajit.fi 2016).
Picture 3. Volunteer campaign to weed invasive alien species (Photo: Tuuli Mirola)
Ahola. S. 2021. Muusikko löysi linnun. Helsingin Sanomat 5.11.2021, B1-B3.
BirdLife Suomi. 2021. Pihabongaus. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.birdlife.fi/tapahtumat/pihabongaus/
Isomäki, K. 2021. Storification enhances experience and vitality in nature travel. LAB Pro. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.labopen.fi/lab-pro/storification-enhances-experience-and-vitality-in-nature-travel/
LAB. 2021. Yli 100 LUT-korkeakoulujen henkilöstön jäsentä osallistuu hyväntekeväisyyteen – työajalla ja johdon kannustuksella. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.lab.fi/fi/uutiset/yli-100-lut-korkeakoulujen-henkiloston-jasenta-osallistuu-hyvantekevaisyyteen-tyoajalla-ja
Lappeenrannan kaupunki. 2021. Linnoituksen Sydäntalven upeat jääveistokset valaisevat Lappeenrannan linnoituksen valleja – asukkaat voivat tuoda omia jäälyhtyjä linnoitukseen lauantaina 6.2. [Cited 17 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.epressi.com/tiedotteet/kaupungit-ja-kunnat/linnoituksen-sydantalven-upeat-jaaveistokset-valaisevat-lappeenrannan-linnoituksen-valleja-asukkaat-voivat-tuoda-omia-jaalyhtyja-linnoitukseen-lauantaina-6.2..html
Lappeenranta. 2021a. Itäinen rantaraitti yhdistää Saimaan rannat, monimuotoisen luonnon ja historian. Meidän Lappeenranta – asukaslehti 2/2021. [Cited 7 May 2021]. Available at: https://www.lappeenranta.fi/loader.aspx?id=555449f0-3f8f-4d99-b6b4-fd30f1417cfc
Lappeenranta. 2021b. Valaistut hiihtoladut. [Cited 25 March 2021]. Available at: https://www.lappeenranta.fi/fi/Palvelut/Kulttuuri-ja-liikunta/Ulkoliikuntapaikat/Hiihtoladut
Lappeenranta. 2021c. Ohjattu liikunta. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.lappeenranta.fi/fi/Palvelut/Kulttuuri-ja-liikunta/Ohjattu-liikunta
Metsähallitus. 2021. Geocaching in Finland. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.nationalparks.fi/geocaching
MLL Kaakkois-Suomen piiri. 2021. Rakkauspolut ovat kuljettavissa parisuhdeviikon ajan! [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://kaakkois-suomenpiiri.mll.fi/uutiset/parisuhdepolku-on-kuljettavissa-8-1/
Perttu, J. 2021. Nuuksion kansallispuistossa kitkettiin 46 säkkiä villinä rehottavia lupiineja – Kasvin kitkemistä on jatkettava vielä vuosia. Helsingin Sanomat 2.11.2021. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.hs.fi/paivanlehti/02112021/art-2000008373073.html
Savenko, D. 2021. 107 волонтеров, 15 самостроев и свыше 180 тонн мусора: на мысе Кюренниеми прошел субботник. [Cited 20 Oct 2021]. Available at: https://voop.spb.ru/news/8573/
Vieraslajit.fi. 2016. Himalayan balsam. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://vieraslajit.fi/lajit/MX.39158
Vieraslajit.fi. 2021a. Garden lupin. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://vieraslajit.fi/lajit/MX.38950
Vieraslajit.fi. 2021b. Soolotalkoot 2021.[Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://vieraslajit.fi/info/i-5542
Virtanen, V. 2021. Loppukesän kuusi kiinnostavaa. Etelä-Saimaa 4.8.2021, 4-6.
VOOP. 2021. Kurenniemi – Cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://kurenniemi.com/en
WWF. 2021. Nuuksiossa purettiin talkoovoimin toistasataa laitonta tulipaikkaa – väärään paikkaan tuikattu tuli kuluttaa luontoa ja aiheuttaa metsäpalovaaran. [Cited 5 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://wwf.fi/uutiset/2021/10/nuuksiossa-purettiin-talkoovoimin-toistasataa-laitonta-tulipaikkaa-vaaraan-paikkaan-tuikattu-tuli-kuluttaa-luontoa-ja-aiheuttaa-metsapalovaaran/
Tuuli Mirola, D.Sc. (Tech.), Principal lecturer at LAB, is the project manager in the Kurenniemi – Cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail project.
Illustration: Tuuli Mirola
Reference to this article
Mirola, T. 2021. Activities engage visitors on nature destinations and trails. LAB Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: https://www.labopen.fi/en/lab-pro/activities-engage-visitors-on-nature-destinations-and-trails/