The young mire agents are following the process of Vuokattisuo mire restoration - Tornator

The young mire agents are following the process of Vuokattisuo mire restoration

Vuokatti Tourist information Center is working to improve biodiversity by mitigating climate change by creating, together with Tornator, a significant carbon sink in Laakajärvi. Vuokatti lives off tourism, and its tourism depends on the breathtaking and versatile nature. And this is something that must be kept that way.

“Vuokatti Tourist information Center contacted us and suggested that we embark on a joint mire restoration project, because we are a major local landowner on the area. We saw this as an excellent opportunity to increase public awareness about our responsibility and the measures we have taken to slow down the loss of diversity together with local actors,” says Tornator’s CEO Henrik Nieminen.

Mire restoration achieves many benefits, most notably increasing the biodiversity of mires and slowing down their endangerment development. The process of restoration raises the water back to its original level, thereby helping the vegetation and other species to return towards the original mire species. Mire restoration is used to improve the conditions of various types of mire biotopes.

“Restoration can improve the recreational conditions of mires in the form of abundant berry harvests and better conditions for game to live in. Mire restoration also has the long-term benefit of improving the quality of runoff water, as the nutrient and solid-matter discharges from drained mires are stopped. This may also contribute to better fishing in nearby waters,” says Nieminen.

Restoration also results in more peat being formed, which means that, in the long run, carbon will be sequestered in the peatland, slowing down the adverse effects of climate change.

“Of course, when restoring mires, it has to be kept in mind that the changes are often slow. Better berry harvests and better conditions for game animals to live in may be achieved relatively quickly, but in terms of mire vegetation restoration and positive environmental effects, we are definitely talking about decades,” says Nieminen.

Restoring a mire has many positive effects on the local biodiversity.

“We expect mire species to recover and diversify, and hope to have better cloudberry and cranberry harvests. With recovering mire vegetation, many butterflies that thrive in mires will benefit. The living conditions of willow grouses and black grouse will improve, and we are hoping they will return to the area.

This particular mire also has several springs, which were also restored. We are interested to see which species will return,” says Nieminen.

For our children to be able to enjoy mires − and for them to be an integral part of this project, the pupils of the local Vuokatti School, the mire agents, are included in the restoration project.

“We knew right from the start that this was going to be a long project, and we thought it would be great to involve children and youngsters to see how the mire project gets going and develops. I believe this will be an experience the children will not forget. The teachers were also enthusiastic about the project, and they have told us they’ve come up with many ideas on how to integrate this project with the children’s school subjects,” says Mika Kilpeläinen, the Mayor of Sotkamo, and continues:

“In practice this means the pupils of Vuokatti School will operate as mire agents, following how the project progresses throughout their nine years of comprehensive school. They will be given a variety of biodiversity and environmental assignments linked to their curricula. I see this as an excellent opportunity to learn through first-hand experience outside the classroom.”

There are plenty of opportunities, as the area to be restored is large (55 hectares), and currently two thirds of the mire has been restored. The target is to complete the remaining restoration work by the end of summer 2022. But this is by no means the last of mire projects. There’s still plenty to work on.