Helsinki Nature is a multimedia project that tells a story about the rich nature in Finland’s capital city. It explores and asks how local nature is connected to global questions of climate change and biodiversity. Helsinki Nature encourages residents to celebrate local nature and enables them with tools and knowledge to affect its protection – on a personal level through lifestyle and through the political process of decision-making and planning.
Nature and Climate
Local nature in Helsinki is a host of life. It is a habitat and home for many creatures. A mental health oasis and space for recreation. A climate regulator, natural air purifier, and superior water management system. In the face of the climate crisis, robust and healthy local ecosystems are also critical for ecological functionality, climate mitigation, and climate adaptation.
Local forests and other habitats sequester carbon dioxide. They absorb rainwater, expected to increase in coming years, and return it to the atmosphere as part of the natural water cycle. Coastal ecosystems regulate floods during high water events. Green and bluespaces temper heat extremes, alleviating urban heat island effect.
Sea levels and temperatures are rising – global phenomena that affect Helsinki, too. As the climate crisis progresses, it will be ever more important that local habitats are robust and intact, able to withstand climate change pressures and alleviate some of the impacts of global warming.
Local nature is threatened by decision-making that enables destruction of habitat – hosts of life – in favor of construction. Residents and local associations have even had to take the City of Helsinki to court multiple times in recent years over building plans that would eliminate local habitat, weaken ecological connectivity, and remove carbon storage. Amongst others, development plans for the Helsinki Central Park have been struck down by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland as illegal.
A Way Forward
Helsinki Nature is working to increase knowledge and awareness of nature values and climate connections. Helsinki Nature helps residents affect positive change in these areas through their lifestyle and with tools to impact the political and planning process.
The City of Helsinki itself has abundant information on local nature. There are many residents and experts with extensive nature and climate knowledge, too. Helsinki Nature brings this knowledge forward, gathers new understanding, and communicates the story of local nature and its connections to climate change and biodiversity.
Helsinki Nature also explores and asks new questions through commissioned artistic visual and written works. Works accepted during the Winter Open Call 2021 will be published throughout the summer and autumn. If additional funding is granted this June, a Summer Open Call will be held in July and August to commission more works.
Jack H. Raisanen is the producer, curator, and editor of Helsinki Nature.
Current funding is generously provided by Climate Changemaker, a project financially supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and carried out by the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi.
Are you an organization interested in providing grant funding to support the work of Helsinki Nature? Please be in touch.
Photo by Anna Björklund.