The rapids of the river Kitkanjoki in Oulanka National Park. Photo: Metsähallitus

Project enhancing the quality of life of local people in Finland, Latvia and Lithuania through shared knowledge and cooperation in nature protection and sustainable tourism development.

The overall aim of the project was to contribute to shared stewardship of the common natural, historical and cultural heritage by carrying out the first steps towards providing demand-based learning possibilities for local communities inside protected areas of Nordic–Baltic countries.

Providing possibilities for local communities to learn about nature management, tourism development possibilities and local culture contributes to the sustainable development of the region. Learning together promotes local entrepreneurship and responsibility for self, making local communities stronger.

Map of the project areas. The set of activities carried out to meet the educational needs of the mentioned target group will be called ”Community programme” and the project aims at transferring it as a best practice example to other protected areas in Nordic–Baltic Region and beyond via EUROPARC Federation and its Nordic–Baltic Section Network.

The areas involved in the project were Oulanka and Syöte National Parks in Finland, Kemeri National Park in Latvia and Grazute Regional Park in Lithuania. The main target group of this project were local inhabitants living either inside or close to these areas regarding them as a key to both sustainable maintenance of our common natural and cultural heritage and raising awareness of the broader society about the importance of these values.

The project met all the goals set which were:

  1. Gathering scientific background for future action: implementation of the surveys of local inhabitants on different educational needs in the target protected areas.
    – See “Project Publications”: Annexes 1-5
  2. Analyzing survey results and planning further action: identifying needs, comparing and discussing experiences, working out action plans to address the needs in each territory.
    – See “Project Publications”: Annexes 6-8
  3. Creating a community programme model.
    – See “Project Publications”: Community Programme

The Community Programme, as the main result of the project, presents a new approach and methodology how to integrate local communities in sustainable tourism development activities in protected areas. The approach consists of three main steps, which are described more in detail in the document (see pt. 3: Roadmap in a nutshell). The programme assists protected area managers in:

  • Increasing managerial knowledge of residents’ perceptions towards tourism and nature conservation
  • Enhancing local interaction and addressing local issues
  • New ways of involving locals in management of protected areas

The project was coordinated by the Directorate of Grazute Regional Park. The project partners were Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services / Osthrobothnia and the University of Oulu in Finland and Kemeri National Park Fund in Latvia. The Nature Conservation Agency of Latvia was also involved in the project.


The project’s total budget was 53 334 euros. The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NORDPLUS Adult) and the participating organisations.


Senior Advisor Veikko Virkkunen
Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services, Finland (Ostrobohnia)
tel. + 358 40 765 5153
e-mail: veikko.virkkunen(at)

More information

Last updated 28 April 2020