On 16 May, the coordinators of projects funded by Metsä Group’s nature programme met in Kirkniemi in Lohja to network and share their experiences of the increasingly varied nature restoration methods. Events organised for project coordinators are an excellent opportunity to jointly develop a new operating culture, in which community spirit helps strengthen nature. This first event brought together the coordinators of projects funded in 2022 across Finland.
Metsä Group’s nature programme is a long-term funding scheme for projects focused on the management and restoration of Finnish forest nature. Examples of key funding targets to date include the rehabilitation of flowing waters and the restoration of the breeding areas of migratory fish, wetland projects, traditional landscapes and local projects concerning pollinators.
“In our strategy, the scope of biodiversity extends to all the activities that we can influence, from the forest to the built environment. Our nature programme adds to this by funding projects that are not directly linked to our own business operations. Metsä Group’s participation in the restoration and management projects focusing on Finnish nature broadens the spectrum of funding sources to the private sector,” says Timo Lehesvirta, Metsä Group’s leading nature expert, who is in charge of the company’s nature programme.
"The Kuuksenenselkä kuntoon project in Lemi uses and develops a wide range of water restoration tools. For example, we remove aquatic plants and carry out fisheries management. The private funding will enable us to apply soil conditioners to fields to prevent water pollution," says Maarit Moisio, project coordinator of the Saimaa Water Protection Association.
"The Luhtikylä wetland restoration project in Orimattila is an example of open-minded cooperation between birdwatchers and hunters. Local nature can be a common concern for the whole village, which gains vitality and positive awareness through practical action," says Jaakko Mattila, Chairman of the Western Orimattila Hunters' Association.
“The event met our expectations very well. Networking among professionals and practical experts promotes our new operating culture. Sharing the best ideas and solutions also benefits practical operations. Ultimately, Finnish nature is a uniting rather than a divisive factor. This has been an important observation. The positive atmosphere encourages us to continue and even pick up the pace,” says Timo Lehesvirta.
This year, the nature programme received dozens of funding applications. The projects to be funded will be selected under the leadership of an independent expert jury. The external jury members come from the University of Eastern Finland, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK). In 2022, Metsä Group provided a total of EUR 600,000 in funding to 18 projects. The next projects to be funded will be announced in June 2023.