Our flagship site is Linnunsuo, a 110-hectare restored wetland. Home to over 195 species of birds, mammals like wolverine, otter and moose, and occasionally visited by 100,000 geese at a time, Linnunsuo has emerged a national symbol for re-wilding efforts in Finland. Re-wilding Finland is a trademark owned by Snowchange with the purposes of advancing community-based and -controlled national efforts.
We have formed a strategic partnership with Rewilding Europe and the Gaia Foundation to expand and seek new solutions to the worst threats of our century: climate change and loss of biodiversity. We will accomplish that using scientifically sound methods, but respecting and being guided by the traditional knowledge of the villages where our actions will take place.
Linnunsuo is also the second ICCA – in this case a community-controlled area. It was registered in early 2018. Linnunsuo also is a 88-hectare strict IUCN protected area under national conservation measures. It is co-managed so that a limited harvest of water birds is possible by Selkie hunters. Additionally the hunters contribute to the control of invasive species such as mink and raccoon dogs in the area.
Linnunsuo is a part of the Jukajoki river basin and next to Kylmäsuo marshmire, which still contain intact nature. A special feature of the area is the iron sulphates in the soil, which once dried form acidic discharges. Up until the early 20th century both oral and written histories indicate that the levels of ecological disturbance remained fairly low or took place in the context of subsistence farming, fisheries and the small-scale harvest of timber.
The 120 hectare Linnunsuo marsh-mire was purchased by VAPO for peat production in the early to mid-1980s. Prior to this the marsh-mire had been partially ditched as a part of the state forestry programmes. The site was seen as a ‘vacant space’ for development at the time. Selkie village council was in favour of the development (in the early 1980s). Landowners were not invited to the process. Residents remember that VAPO purchased the lands ‘cheaply’ and indicated that if the landowners would not sell they would be ‘forced to sell’. Peat production on the site continued from the 1980s to 2010. A turning point came in the summer 2010 when an acidic discharge was released from the VAPO site, which killed the fish in Jukajoki River. This led the company to stop their operations.
In 2011 VAPO decided to install a man-made wetland unit, 120 hectares, to control the acidic discharges and organic loading. Between 2012 and 2016 the Linnunsuo wetland developed also into a nationally relevant bird habitat; especially for waders. During the open season the area is visited daily by bird-enthusiasts. The area is co-managed so that Selkie hunters can harvest a few ducks and geese after 15 September when most of the waders have departed for migration.
“The Jukajoki restoration project is a symbol of major importance that crystallizes some of the biggest issues of our century…The Jukajoki Project and the future of Linnunsuo deserve an international attention and could constitute the starting point of new way of taking care of Nature.“ – Laventure and Scherer, 2017