Oulanka - wellbeing and welfare for the local community

Nature-based tourism and recreation using protected areas as destinations is one of the most obvious means of creating revenues from biodiversity conservation. In Finland, Metsähallitus/Parks & Wildlife Finland is in charge of public administration services which include not only nature protection and management of protected areas, but also the provision of facilities and services for outdoor recreation. Local businesses can benefit from the government funds used to build and maintain hiking facilities. This in turn has a significant multiplier effect on the local community as it creates additional opportunities for local entrepreneurship and jobs. The total income benefits for the local economy come from the direct and indirect income impacts of visitor spending per year.The visitor management of Oulanka Natura 2000-area has been very successful in enhancing and diversifying socio-economic benefits during recent years. As Oulanka is one of the most diverse Natura 2000-areas (in terms of both the number of habitats and plant species) in Finland, and potentially vulnerable to uncontrolled recreational use, great attention has been paid to the planning and implementation of sustainable tourism. One of the overall management objectives of Oulanka National Park is to bring socio-economic benefits to the surrounding communities. The main planning tools are the management plan (updated in 2012 and implemented thereafter) and the sustainable tourism development strategy. Concrete measures have included concessions with tourism companies, joint development projects with local partners and the launching of the Land of National Parks’ brand which is an innovative way to develop tourism in the National Parks in a co-operation with entrepreneurs. The resulting local economic impact of Oulanka National Park was 18,8 million euros in 2018 and the figure is growing.

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