13.07.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Ilosaarirock festival opens unique co-operation on sustainable development with North Karelia Biosphere Reserve

© Ville Vuorio The great crested newt is a small, endangered salamander living in minor ponds in North Karelia biosphere reserve. The ponds tend to dry out during summer droughts, killing the larvae.

The Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu, eastern Finland, started a unique co-operation on sustainable development with the North Karelia Biosphere Reserve. The festival is compensating for its carbon footprint and cooperating with the biosphere reserve to protect the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus), a small salamander that is not found anywhere in eastern Finland except the biosphere reserve and is very sensitive to climate variations due to climate change. The Finnish METSO protection programme, third partner in the project, is responsible for field protection work in the areas which are most protected.

The coordinator of North Karelia Biosphere Reserve, Timo J. Hokkanen, is excited about the co-operation with the rock festival, a new and important opening in the partnership actions of the UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. ‘The co-operation has been unbelievably productive from the very beginning and the work will continue years ahead. It is excellent that Pop Musicians' Association is committed to such long-term and versatile work for the environment. It is a privilege to work with the festival and reach young people on environmental issues’ said Timo J.  Hokkanen.

Raising awareness about climate change and environmental values
Ilosaarirock established a memorial tree park named Pop forest in the vicinity of Koli National Park, in co-operation with the UNESCO biosphere reserve of North Karelia and the regional sustainable development programme Koli Cultura, which aims to make nature and culture tourism in the area environmentally friendly. Every tree in Pop forest symbolizes a deed for sustainable development; it represents the overreaching goal of the whole culture sector to contribute to sustainable development.

Pop forest’s opening marks the celebration of the Ilosaarirock festival’s 40th anniversary, along with a study that measured the festival’s carbon footprint to further its environmental actions. From 2011 on, the festival will compensate for its carbon emissions on an annual basis. The compensation sum will be used for concrete environmental protection initiatives in the region, with a first amount of 3,000€ corresponding to the 2010 emissions calculated according to the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading System charges. The local bank , Pyhäselän paikallisosuuspankki (POP), will  double the donation, and musicians will also contribute.

The focus of the first project will be the protection of the great crested newt, a rare, endangered lizard that symbolizes the impacts of climate change in North Karelia, due to its sensitivity to its effects. The donation will serve to improve the quality of the newt’s habitat through the METSO-programme, which aims to develop biological diversity protection. As a result of the project endangered mires and forest types will be also be protected.

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For more information please contact Timo J. Hokkanen (timo.hokkanen(a)ely-keskus.fi and Anna Mustonen (anna.mustonen(a)ely-keskus.fi)

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