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[ Contents ]

Global tendencies, local responses

 

Sustainably managing the
environment at local level:
the RaJuPuSu "Environmental Pilot"

 

A local, regional and European
partnership meant that in August 1997,
the RaJuPuSu municipalities were able
to launch an "Environmental Pilot",
aimed at better managing the area's
natural resources and educating the
local community and socio-economic
actors about the quality of the
environment. At municipal level,
this is a European first.

 

Implemented over a three-year period (1997-2000) at an estimated cost of ECU 180 000, this Environmental Pilot consists of two measures: creating a plan of action to guarantee an on-going environmental follow-up at local level; setting up an advice-structure ("Eco Know-How") to make it easier for businessmen and project holders to take account of the environmental impact of their activity.

 

Eco-audit


Co-financed by the European Union (50% under Objective 6), the Province of Mikkeli (30%) and the municipalities concerned (20%), the measure entitled "Environmental Follow-Up System" initially consists of identifying and selecting a number of fundamental environmental indicators which will then be used to draw up a local environmental analysis (an "eco-audit"). The continuous monitoring of these indicators should then help to sustainably manage the local natural resources.

Like the whole approach, the choice of indicator complies with five main principles:

  • local control (the parameters retained concern environmental factors which can be entirely controlled at local level);

  • local importance of the resource (water programmes and farming and forestry activities have, for example, been considered to be essential for the RaJuPuSu area);

  • the active backing of the process by the inhabitants (during local meetings, more than 150 people took part in the selection of environmental indicators);

  • the continuity of the action plan (each environmental indicator must be able to be monitored annually);

  • the reliability of the approach (impartiality, transparency and accessibility of the results to everyone).

A set of 20 indicators has therefore been established, amongst which are the age and condition of the forests, the impact of farming activities on the quality of water in the lakes and of the flora and fauna (the lakes accommodate a rare species of sea-lions, for example), the quality of the landscape, pollution caused by traffic, the number of public tips, household energy consumption, average life expectancy in the region...

Upstream, a scientific expert or council technician (responsible for waste management, highway maintenance, etc.) is responsible for a specific indicator and several hundred people (citizens, farmers, businessmen, local associations, hunting and fishing clubs, nature protection organisations, etc.) are used, depending on their skills, activities and interests, to help continuously monitor one of the indicators over the next five years. Downstream, the environmental data collected are circulated mainly in town halls, libraries, on indicator boards and on an Internet site (http://www.rajupusu.fi/luotsi/).

 

Eco Know-How


80% financed by LEADER and 20% by the municipalities, the "Eco Know-How" measure of the RaJuPuSu Environmental Pilot aims to provide technical assistance to economic actors in terms of the environment. Using "expert pools" (either voluntary or remunerated by the organisations taking part in the Environmental Pilot) formed depending on the nature of the activity examined, the formula has for the time being been tested in the tourism sector: all LEADER tourism project holders are therefore associated with Eco Know-How. The action plan is also being used in the context of clearing a 500 km hiking path co-financed by LEADER. The approach will then gradually be extended to other sectors of activity.

Devised and coordinated by Kimmo Vähäjylkkä, a young geographer, the RaJuPuSu Environmental Pilot combines many advantages: this regional eco-audit aimed at improving quality of life and the area's attractiveness also enables, through the involvement of the local communities in the process, solidarity networks to be strengthened, links between residents and outside operators to be formed and citizens and local authorities to be brought together. Environment, development and democracy are therefore the measures of a similar triptych.

  • Contact: Environmental Pilot
    c/o RaJuPuSu LEADER Association

source: LEADER Magazine n18 - Fall, 1998


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