Creation of the first Finnish Geopark provides a boost for tourism and learning about the environment in northern Finland

Located at a latitude of 64 degrees north and around 200 km south of the Arctic Circle, the Rokua Geopark is the world’s most northerly Geopark and its unusual geology has been attracting an increasing number of visitors from around the world in recent years.

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The Geopark promotes geological and environmental tourism. The Geopark promotes geological and environmental tourism.

Since 2010 the park has formed part of a network of 91 Geoparks around the world of which half are in Europe.  In addition to Rokua, the Nordic countries are home to three other Geoparks, one in Iceland and two in Norway. What they all have in common is the capacity to share experience and best practice on teaching the natural sciences and geological heritage conservation, and the promotion of geological tourism and sustainable development.

Rokua Geopark consists of an area of 1 326 km², and includes within its territory the smaller Rokua National Park, which was established in 1956. The characteristic features of the area are various unusual land formations shaped during the last Ice Age such as glacial ridges and kettle holes. The park, which is criss-crossed by hiking and skiing trails, is also well known for its eskers and dunes

More visitors come to see park’s natural wonders

Since the Geopark’s creation in 2010, various ERDF funded projects have been underway to help develop the park’s potential to the full. These include projects to boost the Geopark’s web presence, branding and marketing. The most recent round of three projects, which are scheduled to run between 2010 and 2013, includes a project to organise and fine-tune the Geopark’s operating model. This project includes the production of new educational and interpretive materials.

The second project focuses on enhancing entrepreneurship in the park and the third project is to improve tourist infrastructure, such as the building of walking trails and an information centre.

The information centre includes an exhibition describing the formation of the Geopark area. The exhibition’s themes are geology, human history, nature and the present day. Visitors to the information centre can also view changing exhibitions and a scale model of the Rokua esker formation.

Vesa Krökki, Project Manager and Executive Director of the Geopark, said that the establishment of the park had provided a boost for tourism in the area. Although it has for some time been popular with Finns and, to some extent, visitors from Germany and Sweden, the park is now being visited in larger number by people from around the globe. 

Total and EU funding

The “Rokua Geopark” project had a total eligible budget of EUR 522 350, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 261 175 through the 'Northern Finland' Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The Finnish state provided EUR 104 470 and the Geopark itself EUR 156 705.

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