Scenery and recreation in forest landscapes in Ruka-Kuusamo in North-Eastern Finland

© Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Assosciation

© Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Assosciation

© Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Assosciation

© Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Assosciation

© Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Assosciation

The Finnish case study region, Ruka-Kuusamo, is located in Kuusamo, a town and municipality in north-eastern Finland. Distance to the nearest bigger cities such as Oulu is 217 km, Rovaniemi 195 km and Kajaani 245 km. A flight to Helsinki, the capital of the country, takes about an hour. The acreage of the municipality is 5,809 km². As much as 84% of the municipality’s total land area is forested, and 82 percent of the forest is in non-industrial private ownership (National Forest Inventory 9 2016).


In the beginning of 2016, the population of Kuusamo was 15,688. The population density is low (3.2 inhabitants/km²), with 70% living in the town centre and the rest in sparsely populated rural area. Of employed people about two-thirds work in services such as tourism, one-sixth in processing industries, and about 10% in agriculture, forestry and reindeer husbandry.

The nature of the area is rich with hills, fells, lakes and rivers, which has given excellent preconditions to develop tourism as a significant livelihood in the region. Tourism and related services have currently a significant role in the region’s economy.

One of the largest ski resorts in Finland, Ruka, is located in Kuusamo. The famous Oulanka National Park locates also in the area. Annually, around one million tourists visit Kuusamo leaving a total revenue of over 90 million € and providing full-time employment to over 800 persons. About 23% of visitors staying overnight are international tourists. The key tourism activities include down-hill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, husky safaris as well as hiking, cycling, canoeing and observation of birds and other boreal species (Facts about Ruka and Kuusamo 2017).

Due to dominating role of forests, the investigation of public good was also related forests. The selected public good of the study was scenery and recreation in Ruka-Kuusamo. This is an interesting study topic because of the fact that most of the forests are in private ownership in this region, which means that commercial forestry is an important source of livelihood for many owners and individual owners are not necessarily able to benefit from the recreational use of their forests. In addition, one of the few industries processing local raw materials is a large saw mill dependent on wood harvesting from private forests. Simultaneously, nature-based tourism is dependent on beautiful forest landscapes and recreation possibilities, which are often negatively affected by forest management practices such as clear cutting, soil preparation and ditching. The present and possible future boom of biorefineries and renewable energy production has been predicted to further intensify the forest harvesting – increased demand together with potentially increasing timber prices may thus encourage owners to cut their forests more. This may potentially damage sceneries for decades as it takes decades until the forest landscapes recover in these boreal conditions and high altitudes.

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In order to take into account the interests of both tourism and forestry sectors, a development of new PES-system, called Landscape and Recreational Values Trading (LRVT), has been proposed. Read more…

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