Tykkylumipuut Ruka-Kuusamon talvessa, kuva Salla Karhumaa

Respecting Nature - Sustainably in Ruka-Kuusamo

The magnificent nature of Kuusamo is known for roaring rapids, rugged forest hills, and diverse trail network amidst National Parks. The crown snow-load trees, fresh and clean water and air are no longer things we can take for granted, and we must cherish them to the best of our ability. Sustainability-based tourism is the only way of operation when aiming to save the nature and four seasons for future generations.

Retkeilijät Oulangan kansallispuistossa, kuva Jani Kärppä

Always on nature’s terms

The Outdoor Etiquette is a nature-conserving guideline that directs people on how to engage in sustainable hiking. Finland's most popular hiking trail, the Bear's Trail, traverses through the unique nature of Oulanka National Park, attracting around two hundred thousand visitors annually. By following the instructions of Outdoor Etiquette, the goal is to protect the environment despite the large number of visitors.

In Finland we have rights to spend time in nature and they are called ‘Everyman's Rights’. They allow free movement in forests, berry and mushroom picking, camping, but always on nature’s terms. These rights and wandering safety in nature are familiar concepts to us Finns, however, for many visitors from other countries, these are peculiar and special rights. Sticking to marked trails, respecting the habitats of animals and plants, and avoiding littering are small actions with a significant impact.

Pieni Karhunkierros, Myllykoski, kuva Salla Karhumaa

Sustainable Finland Pledge – A Commitment to Responsible Tourism

Visit Finland is an organization that promotes Finland's attractiveness and visibility worldwide. Visit Finland's vision is to make Finland the world's leading sustainable travel destination. Based on this, the Sustainable Finland Pledge is a commitment to a better future by considering sustainability in all actions.

The Sustainable Travel Finland program has been developed for tourism operators. The companies that complete it receive the STF label as a message of commitment to sustainable operations. Energy saving, recycling, using local products and labor, not only bring economic benefits, but also strengthen the development of the tourist area to the right direction.

Many sustainable actions have been part of routines for years in both businesses and homes. Documenting practices and principles help to realize that many everyday sustainability acts are performed quite unconsciously. Companies are also pleased to find that an increasing number of environmentally conscious travelers choose their destination and service providers based on sustainable operations.

Vaeltajat Oulangalla kesällä, kuva Salla Karhumaa

STF label of Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association

Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association is a regional marketing organization with nearly 150 member companies. In addition to its attractive nature, a comprehensive and functional network of service providers is a pride of Ruka-Kuusamo. Collaborative efforts and shared values and principles unite the entire tourism area.  

Around fifteen people work in the tourism association on marketing, event production, and tourist info. Last year, the Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association received the EcoCompass certificate for environmentally responsible operations, and at the beginning of this year, the STF label. The near-future goal is to earn the collective Sustainable Travel Finland recognition for the entire Ruka-Kuusamo tourism area. To achieve it, diligent work is being done, engaging member companies in the development process.

Multichannel sustainability communication shapes actions towards a more responsible direction. Educating staff on sustainability through training and workshops increases awareness. The visitors in Ruka-Kuusamo receive information about the area's responsibility from tourist information centers, Ruka's website, Ruka-Kuusamo brochures, Visitor Centers, and the channels of STF labeled companies. The Ruka-Kuusamo’s sustainability icon is a small green leaflet that indicates the sustainability of a product, making it easy to make the right choice.

Mustikat ruskan aikaan, kuva Salla Karhumaa

We all share a common goal; to preserve this Northern environment amidst Finland's most beautiful landscapes and clean nature for the well-being and quality of life of our descendants. Let's work together to ensure it. 

Read more: 
Sustainable tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo
Visitor Guidelines in National Parks Finland
Sustainable Finland Pledge
Sustainable Travel Finland label

Published: 19.2.2024
Text: Salla Karhumaa
Images: Salla Karhumaa, Jani Kärppä.

Käsi kädessä auringonlaskussa, kuva Salla Karhumaa