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Nature conservation and tourism can coexist despite conflicts - University of Eastern Finland

Two people sitting on a rock in Koli National Park, Finland (UEF / Varpu Heiskanen)
The concept of sustainable nature tourism has played a key role in mediating conflicts between tourism and nature conservation in Koli National Park, Finland (UEF / Varpu Heiskanen)

The concept of sustainable nature tourism plays a key role in mediating conflicts between tourism and nature conservation, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.

The study takes a geo-historical approach to analysing the environmental conflict surrounding the founding of Koli National Park in Finland, where the idea of sustainable nature tourism was used as a way out of the conflict. In Koli National Park, sustainable nature tourism has proven to be useful concept for conflict resolution.

“Adopting the principles of sustainable nature tourism helped the national park’s management to reach nature conservation goals. Moreover, the hopes and wishes of local residents and companies on how to develop tourism and the economy were also taken into consideration as part of sustainability, and this fostered a positive attitude towards the national park among locals,” Researcher Jani Karhu from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The study was published in Tourism Geographies. The researchers interviewed managers and designers of Koli National Park, and they also analysed local newspaper articles.

National parks are a key instrument of nature conservation, and one of the most recognised institutions in nature tourism worldwide. Koli National Park was founded in 1991. The founding of the park was preceded by heated debate over whether the area should be developed into a modern resort for mass tourism, or whether its unique national landscape and nature should be protected. In Koli, the approach to solving the conflict was through sustainable nature tourism.

Posted on: 21 September 2020

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