Proposal for the world’s first Science National Park in Finland

Finland has the opportunity to give the 150 year-old National Park concept an overhaul for the 21st Century by bringing science to the forefront. The proposed Evo Science National Park is being considered by the Ministry of the Environment and could create up to 1000 much-needed jobs in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

“The Evo area in Hämeenlinna has such a great scientific history as well as conservation value, and it just made sense to us to combine these two to create the idea of a Science National Park. We aim to bring everyone together to learn about, participate in and experience science at the same time as marveling at the great outdoors,” says Evo Science National Park project member Pepe Forsberg.  

The forest of southern Finland has precious little old growth forest left, but the Evo area is a hidden gem where old growth still remains and harbours many endangered and vulnerable species. The old growth patches are surrounded by the largest contiguously forested area in southern Finland, adding to its value for conservation. The same area has attracted scientists for decades and it is one of the most researched areas in the country.  

The project has garnered a great deal of support, with the University of Helsinki, large international conservations groups World Wildlife Fund Finland and Greenpeace Norden as well as many other local groups backing the project.  
“It has been really exciting to develop the concept and very rewarding to bring all of these people together to work for a common goal,” says University of Helsinki’s research station coordinator Niko Nappu.  
“The Evo area has been home to many long-term research projects which help us understand how the environment is changing over time. Without this type of research that happens over decades, it is impossible to know what effect things like climate change are having. The great thing is that at the same time as protecting large tracts of forest, we can make sure that the opportunity to continue research activities is ensured,“ adds John Loehr from the University of Helsinki’s Lammi Biological Station.

The proposed Science National Park is also important for generating much needed jobs in the area.  The goal is to create up to 1000 new jobs through tourism, park interpretation, and scientific research and the many new opportunities that will come with having the Science National Park close by.   

The Science National Park proposal is the common project of the ‘Kentällä – In the field’ working group together with the University of Helsinki, WWF Finland, Greenpeace Norden and The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation as well as a large number of scientists, conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts. The Science National Park concept aims to have a global audience that will be introduced to the possibilities for conservation and science.  When implemented, the Evo Science National Park will protect nature, support scientific research and give new possibilities for Finland to bring its innovations to the world.