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Photo of the landscape in Saimaa at dawn
Roof island

Saimaa Geopark received Unesco Global Geopark status

22.4.2021 14:59
Familiarity and Unesco status will already bring plenty of new visitors to the Geopark sites this summer.

UNESCO's Governing Board has granted Saimaa Geopark UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) status.

The matter will be announced in more detail today, Thursday 22.4.2021 April 15 at XNUMX:XNUMX (Finnish time) in Paris.

Chairman of the board of Saimaa Geopark ry Jouni Riihelä is delighted with the result of a long hard work.

─ Unesco status is a very significant international recognition for the region and its actors. Geopark meets tough international criteria. We are now equal to other major nature tourism destinations in the world. The status process has been challenging and long. Municipalities and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry have commendably brought their cards to the table. Warm thanks for the cooperation to all organizations and companies, rejoices Riihelä.

─ The status is still achieved at a time when nature tourism and camping are living their golden age in society. Familiarity and Unesco status will already bring plenty of new visitors to the Geopark sites this summer.

Almost 80 business partners produce services

Status continues the development work of Saimaa Geopark, focusing on generating international nature tourism and vitality in the region, as well as strengthening environmental education with operators in the region. Vitality has been strengthened through business cooperation projects and Saimaa Geopark Partner activities. Partner activities are based on the principles of sustainable development and the UN Agenda 2030 program.

Saimaa Geopark Partner business cooperation has progressed rapidly and almost 80 business partners produce services and products for tourists as well as local residents. A solid step was also taken for year-round tourism this winter, when the partners produced more than 30 winter products to activate ski vacationers.

Finding partners and services has been improved with the help of the international nature tourism portal Outdoor Active. The nature tourism portal displays the area's hiking routes and destinations, Saimaa Geopark's geo-, nature-, and cultural destinations, as well as the products and services of entrepreneurs in the area. Availability data has been collected for the portal's functions.

─ In 2020, all of our information has appeared more than 2,6 million times in internet channels and search results. Searches do not count the use of the Google search engine. And this year we are at an even faster pace, as the number is already over 1,1 million, says Saimaa Geopark's Executive Director Heli Rautanen.

Business cooperation has also been done thanks to projects that have been financed from the EU's Rural Development Fund and with the help of ELY centers in South Savo and Southeast Finland. With the help of funding, the area's entrepreneurs have received trainings, webinars, product training and, most importantly, have gotten to know each other through networking. The Tuuliainen Foundation and the Etelä-Karjala Savings Bank Foundation have financed the self-financing portions of business cooperation projects.

"International nature tourism is growing"

The status does not change the existing situation in terms of land use or protection. The status does not bring restrictions or new conservation programs, and land use is not restricted. Natura 2000 areas played an important role in getting the status for the area.

An important document has also been the charter of Järvi-Finland, which was signed in Mikkeli in the summer of 2019 by more than forty municipalities, the confederation of counties and the state's regional administration.

─ International nature tourism grows from our clean and unique lake nature. In the Charter of Järvi-Suomen, we promised to leave Saimaa to the next generation in a slightly better condition than we got it ourselves. This is done through education, research, technological and vitality development. This development according to the Charter and the practical good practices of the organizations are shared in the region at the annual Finnish Lakeland Forum. The next FLF will be organized in the fall of 2021 in Lappeenranta as part of Lappeenranta's Green Leaf year, says Riihelä.

Life in a unique geological destination

Unesco Global Geopark status is always granted for four years at a time. The next evaluation will be in 2025. Saimaa Geopark is already looking at the continuity of the status obtained in its operations. The goal is that after four years the Saimaa UNESCO Global Geopark will be recognized internationally, nationally and especially locally.

─ The principle is that local people take the operation of Saimaa Geopark as their own. They know that they live as part of a unique geological site and also know how to tell guests what Saimaa Geopark is, promises Rautanen.

 

You can follow the announcement of the status Global Geopark Network – on the YouTube channel on Thursday 22.4. from 15 p.m. The presentation of Saimaa Geopark is at 16.05:XNUMX.

 

For more information:

Jouni Riihelä, chairman of the board, phone +358 44 794 2515

Heli Rautanen, executive director, phone +358405720797

Members of the government:

Samuli Kakko, vice president, technical director, Taipalsaari municipality, phone +358 40 774 9252

Markku Heinonen, director of development, City of Lappeenranta phone +358 40 581 1998

Matias Hilden, left. municipal manager, Ruokolahti municipality phone +358 44 4491 201

Kimmo Kainulainen, municipal manager, Savitaipale municipality, phone +358 40 736 6053 Antti Kinnunen, administrative director, Juva municipality, phone +358 40 012 1261

Tea Laitimo, contact director, City of Imatra phone +358 400 156 677

Kaisa Ralli, chairman of the municipal board, Sulkava municipality, phone +358 400845925

Tuula Vainikka, marketing manager, Puumala municipality, phone +358 505620706