Nature-based tourism, mining operations, forestry, wind power and nature conservation all have their own needs for the use of the limited forest area.
Mining operations may have a negative impact on the tourism trade, if the quality of the environment is reduced and the close-to-nature image of the area suffers. The distance of the mining operations from tourism centres and the routes used by tourists are essential.
Forestry areas have been found to be well-suited to winter tourism in particular. During the summer time, however, the landscape downsides are more difficult to reconcile with nature-based tourism. In this case, it is a question of the intensity of the forestry: for example, avoiding extensive clearcutting and tillage will make the forests more suitable for recreational use.
Of all energy production methods, wind power is visible in the forest landscape to such a great extent, that it will cause problems for tourism, particularly if tourism is based on a wilderness landscape. It is clearly evident in a 2015 survey on environmental conflicts that disputes related to mines and wind power have come to the fore in the 2000s.
In the best case, tourism and nature conservation can support each other. People’s environmental awareness and the desire to conserve nature are known to increase through travel and positive experiences in nature. Tourism centres are, indeed, often located in the vicinity of national parks.
Research allows the voices of the different parties to be heard
Natural Resources Institute Finland is studying the relationships between forestry and new ways of using the nature. Studies are being performed on, for example, the topics of disputes related to the use of nature, and the needs and possibilities of reconciling these disputes. The case studies concern mining, wind power, forestry, tourism and nature conservation.
The needs and location of the different forms of use are examined using geographic information methods. This allows ecologically, socially, culturally and financially valuable sites to be located. Conflicts in the use of the areas can also be detected early, directing particular planning attention to precisely these problem areas. Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) are used to gather information on the public’s valuations and needs relating to the use of an area, particularly in the vicinity of the tourism centres in Northern Finland.
Picture on top of the page: Erkki Oksanen, Luke