Posts Climate, Environment, Food

Climate change has turned the EU to look closely at the Arctic areas. According to Luke scientists, the decision makers should dig deeper in the possibilities of sustainable Arctic bioeconomy.

One-third of Finland’s area lies north of the Polar Circle, the geographical definition of the Arctic. The county of Lapland covers more than 100 000 square kilometres of sparsely populated land.

Tourism is included in the bioeconomy, as it is also based on the extreme natural conditions. Researchers have clarified how vulnerable nature can be used at different times of the year. The aim is to promote sustainable tourism and to maintain traditional land use. Photo: Plugi

Sustainability in the Arctic

When Research Professor Sirpa Kurppa from Luke talks about the Arctic bioeconomy, she talks about livelihoods and future in Lapland, but adds a wider perspective. Kurppa describes her view as a set of know-how and possibilities, in local and global scale.
“We should make use of the Arctic know-how in the whole Finland. Icebreakers and other systems functioning in cold conditions can be developed and manufactured in the whole country”, Kurppa points out.

To promote research-based knowledge about the Arctic, Kurppa and her research group published a policy brief for decision makers. Kurppa has an established career in agroecology and the focus of the Arctic bioeconomy brief is in the sustainable use of the northern nature.

The time for the research-based brief is suitable, as Finland is holding the chair of the Arctic Council until 2019.

“Finland took the chair in 2017 and since then, the focus has been on the technological issues concerning the Arctic seaway and oil and gas resources. That is why we should bring up the special natural circumstances and how to use them in a sustainable way in the future bio-economy”, Kurppa says.

Tourism belongs to bioeconomy

Recently, Lapland and other Arctic areas have experienced a vast growth of tourism. According to the researchers, the future of tourism is now closely watched in all the countries of the Arctic region.

“Tourists are attracted here by the well-functioning society, the services, nature and a secure environment, even the darkness. These we should cherish”, Kurppa says.

Therefore, tourism is included in the bioeconomy, as it is also based on the extreme natural conditions. Researchers have clarified how vulnerable nature can be used at different times of the year. The aim is to promote sustainable tourism and to maintain traditional land use.

“Tourism grows fast and Finns should now consider how to manage it in our own hands. There is a great danger that tourism will move into the hands of the global players. With mass tourism, the northern uniqueness can be ruined in an instant”, Kurppa warns.

Arctic food goes global?

As tourists are attracted by the Arctic Lapland, Lapland should seek its own way to the global market, scientists say. One of the aims of the policy brief is to export more Finnish products.

“Finland is the northernmost country where farming is practised in a large scale. Many companies already use Arctic in their brands and marketing. Our strengths are cleanliness, food safety and production where only small amounts of antibiotics are used. However, these same arguments are used by other countries”, says Researcher Jaana Kotro of Luke.

To access the global market with the Arctic brand, Luke scientists suggest cooperation of the whole Barents region, go-ahead innovations and, most importantly, knowledge about customers’ needs.

For this path, Luke scientists offer their practical help for decision makers as well as entrepreneurs in their out-reaching bioeconomy projects. Kotro’s project “Arctic Food in Finland” is well on the way and offers free, research based material that companies can use in their marketing efforts.

Text: Marjatta sihvonen

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