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The super popular Shepherd Weeks benefit both landscape management and nature conservation


What could be a better way to contribute to nature conservation than to live in a hut for a week in one of the most beautiful natural sceneries of Finland and take care of herding sheep? 

Sheep herding in the night at Lemmenjoki National Park. Photo: Olli Järvenkylä.

The Shepherd Weeks, which attract thousands of applicants each year, are a truly unique way to organize landscape management and conservation efforts. The concept is a combination of nature conservation and management, strengthening relationships between people, nature and landscapes, and enjoying an unforgettable holiday experience.

During the Shepherd Weeks, volunteer shepherds take care of a herd of sheep for a week as they perform landscape management in national parks and conservation areas. Grazing animals are required for maintaining the traditional landscapes by keeping the meadows open and securing the biodiversity of these habitats. Thanks to the project, valuable traditional rural landscapes are maintained and the public's awareness of the importance of landscape is increased.

The Shepherd Weeks concept was selected as the best landscape project in Finland in 2016. In 2017 the concept ran for the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe and received an honorary award. This year the popularity of the Weeks continued to rise as more applicants than ever applied for the unique summer holiday.

The most important motivations for becoming a volunteer shepherd are caring for the sheep and experiencing the tranquility of nature. This year Finland was ranked as the happiest country in the World. Volunteering is often connected to greater satisfaction in life. Perhaps this is also a reason which makes the Shepherd Weeks so unique and popular: happy people contributing their time for greater biodiversity, co-working with sheep that require care and shelter. What a beautiful way to help! 

Volunteering with ships as co-workers is fun and brings you close to nature. Photo: Metsähallitus.

Read more about Shepherd Weeks

National Park Bringing New Feeling of Optimism to Hossa

by Fran Weaver, August 2017

Lenny Daly of the local firm Hossan Lumo feels that the new Hossa National Park provides ideal settings for the trendy outdoor activity of SUP-boarding. The Daly family's dog Vicky is also on board. Photo: Maija Daly, Hossan Lumo

The opening in June 2017 of Finland's 40th national park at Hossa, to mark the centenary of the Finland's independence, has been a great boost for local entrepreneurs offering services related to nature tourism and outdoor recreation. New jobs and income are very welcome in this part of Finland's north-eastern borderlands, between the towns of Kuusamo and Suomussalmi.

The clear waters and sandy shores of Hossa National Park are particularly popular among paddlers. Visitors can rent kayaks from local firms or join guided paddling tours to discover the park's highlights. Photo: Hannu Huttu / Metsähallitus

Local firms are already providing a wider range of services for increasing numbers of visitors with different interests. The small family firm Hossan Lumo, run by locally born Maija Daly and her Irish husband Lenny Daly, rents out equipment including fat tyre mountain bikes, kayaks and SUP-boards, while also offering cosy cabin accommodation and lovely lakeside locations for tents and caravans.

Lenny Daly feels that Hossa provides ideal settings for many popular outdoor pursuits. "Hossa's clear blue lakes are great for paddling, and Finland is now also catching on to the international boom in SUP-boarding," he says. "The trails along Hossa's sandy ridges are likewise ideal for mountain biking or hiking." 

Hossa Reindeer Park gives visitors to the nearby national park a chance to get up close to reindeer. Raili Karvonen brings tasty snacks out to some of the park's residents. Photo: Sini Salmirinne

Maija Daly believes that especially for foreign visitors, Hossa's new status as a national park makes it much more attractive than its previous designation as a hiking area. 

"There's a new feeling of optimism as interest in Hossa increases, and people are getting keen to branch out and start new businesses and activities."  

Joga instructor, wilderness guide Saija Taivalmäki is one of the new entrepeuneurs working in Hossa National Park. Photo: Raili Takolander

National parks, national hiking areas and other protected areas provide the visitors with unforgettable moments, best sceneries and hiking and skiing facilities. Read more about the self-guided tours.

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