News Food, Forestry

International Day of Forests 21 March

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has opened the service for everyone interested in wild berries. Of all wild berries, people can now monitor bilberry, lingonberry and cloudberry yields in real time using a map-based system. The system is one of its kind in the world.

Bilberries. Photo: Merja Lindroos, Luke.

Finland uses a system of everyman’s rights. This means that every individual in Finland has the right to enjoy nature, regardless of the owner or holder of the area. Everyman’s rights are free of charge and do not require the landowner’s permission.

Everyman’s rights and clean nature are reasons why nearly three million berry pickers annually consider where the best picking locations are and when the best time to go picking berries is.

“The aim of Luke’s map-based service is that people who enjoy and pick wild berries can provide each other with up-to-date information about expected yields. People can send their findings of bilberry, lingonberry and cloudberry flowers, as well as raw and ripe berries, from all parts of Finland to the service”, says Rainer Peltola, senior scientist at Luke.

Berry yield monitoring strengthens the relationship between young people and forests

Currently, the service, established in 2018, mainly includes findings made by young people from the Finnish 4H Organisation, one of Luke’s long-term partners, in 2018. This data is expected to expand rapidly during summer 2019.

“We encourage, above all, young people to take part. Making observations is interesting, and recording findings using smart devices comes naturally to young people. No compensation is paid for making observations, but they strengthen the relationship between young people and forests. In addition, young people have the opportunity to participate in collecting valuable information in the service. Observations could also be made during biology classes at school”, Peltola says.

Finland is a long country. This means that observations are recorded in the system during as many as five months. The first observations are made in May and June when bilberry flowers in Southern Finland, and the last findings are recorded in September and October when lingonberry, the last of the monitored berries, is ready for picking, also in Northern Finland.