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Oulanka-Paanajärvi – wilderness, experiences and well-being (Interreg)
Start date: Aug 31, 2005, End date: Dec 30, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project was created from the need to secure and strengthen the status of the Oulanka-Paanajärvi twin park, bothdomestically and internationally, as an attraction and a resource. By improving the conditions for nature tourism, thelocal development could be positively influenced by creating opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.The sustainability of functions is a prerequisite for the use of national parks, nature tourism, regional appealand continued recreational use. Therefore, the sustainability of nature tourism and the recreational use of theenvironment were to be ensured in the Oulanka National Park by studying its current condition and potentialneed for change. A review of the functionality and effectiveness of the cooperation between the national parks wasalso to be created and future prospects for continued cooperation and development identified. As nature tourism isbecoming more international and the demand is changing, an increasing need for quality, information, and guidesspecialised in the attractions was considered necessary. The intention in the project was to meet this challenge bydeveloping a training system for guides. In addition, principles were to be established for their certification. There wasalso a wish in the project to offer information to travellers regarding the diversity of nature in the area and encouragethem to extensively tour the nature sites in the region. Achievements: The information points present nature destinations in Finland and Russia and invite travellers to locate and visitthem during various seasons. The information points also encourage travellers to try varied forms of nature activityand offer information on tourism services of the region. In addition, an assessment was made of the sustainabilityof nature tourism and recreational use of the environment in the Oulanka National Park. The assessment revealedareas with valuable vegetation being also used for nature tourism and recreation, which will create a challenge forpark maintenance that should be included in future planning of nature tourism. The report creates a foundation forimproving the limit for acceptable change method in the Oulanka National Park and provides tools for park care.Electronic information points help direct visitors from high-traffic areas to less visited destinations. The project wasalso responsible for completing an assessment of the effectiveness of the Oulanka-Paanajärvi cooperation, whichwill be an important tool for developing future cooperation. In addition, guide training was organised, which wascompleted already during the project by eight guides from the companies cooperating with Oulanka National Parkand two customer service specialists from Metsähallitus. The material for the training was placed in a teaching folderand onto a CD. The training and the associated certification are used as examples for later training by Metsähallitus.
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