National Parks Finland is a unit of Metsähallitus, now developing a national digital service that brings together different actors’ destinations, routes and services related to outdoor activities. The aim is to help people find suitable outdoor activities more easily. Service development is part of the National Nature Recreation Strategy published last year. The new application and online service will be available to everyone in 2024, free of charge.
National Parks Finland will update the popular Nationalparks.fi online service, which presents national parks and other Metsähallitus’s destinations, and develop a mobile application to go with it. The new online service and application will introduce, e.g., outdoor and excursion destinations maintained by municipalities and associations in the same service as destinations on state-owned land. This way, people yearning for nature do not need to search for information on different services; instead, they can find outdoor routes in their own area easily in the same place.
Wellbeing and health from nature
The development of new digital services is part of the implementation of the National Nature Recreation Strategy. The strategy was drawn up for the first time in Finland in 2022 and extends until 2030. Its aim is to help citizens to feel better, find a connection with nature while respecting it.
“The main idea of the new nature services is to provide people with all the necessary information on Finland´s outdoor activities and recreational services with ‘a one-window principle’. The Nationalparks services are one of the key measures for implementing the National Nature Recreation Strategy,” says Miliza Malmelin, chair of the coordination group for the National Nature Recreation Strategy from the Ministry of the Environment.
The aim of the new services is to increase wellbeing through physical activity in nature and to safeguard the preservation of the values of nature for future generations.
“We want to create an easy-to-use service that inspires everyone to find refreshment in Finnish nature regardless of their hobbies, motives or abilities,” says Niko Tynkkynen, who is responsible for developing new services at Metsähallitus.
Nature sites suitable for different types of nature-goers will be easier to find
The new nature services present diverse nature sites close to the user, raising awareness of various recreational opportunities. The services include hiking and outdoor recreation areas, routes, attractions and service structures, such as campfire sites, lean-to shelters and piers.
Users can view and search for sites according to their needs: for example, users can search for sites suitable for mountain biking or paddling, from small hiking destinations to national parks. Accessibility and local conditions are taken into account in the search and presentation of the sites. Positioning and map contents are used in the presentation of the nearby area. New services can also encourage nature excursions through targeted communications, such as interesting new destinations or current events.
Promoting sustainable and responsible recreational use of nature
The new Nationalparks services motivate and guide nature-goers to act right from the perspective of the wellbeing of nature and their own safety, for example on the basis of outdoor etiquette, everyman’s rights and site-specific rules. The service supports the learning of the required skills and provides information on nature, which helps people deepen their relationship with nature. The service can also help alleviate congestion in popular areas and reduce the harms of a large number of visitors on nature by providing information on the number of visitors at destinations at different times and by proposing alternative routes.
New services are developed in cooperation – customers are strongly involved
The new services will be developed under the direction of Metsähallitus in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, the University of Jyväskylä and outdoor recreation organisations. Customers’ perspective is important, and the new Wilderness and Nature Community of Metsähallitus will be utilised in developing the services. The Ministry of the Environment coordinates the implementation of the National Nature Recreation Strategy. The Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä manages and develops a national and public database of sports facilities, Lipas.
The information content of the services is maintained by the people responsible for sports facilities in municipalities, recreational area associations, outdoor recreation organisations and other owners of sports facilities. The Suomen Latu outdoor association is a key partner in the work carried out with organisations.