Hinkua Etelä-Karjalaan! project aims at climate-friendly rural areas

During 2020-2022, good practices are being sought in the South Karelia region to promote low-carbon activities. The project is carried out by the Imatra and Lappeenranta regional environmental offices.

The aim is to find active people in rural areas to try new climate-sensitive lifestyles in their daily lives. The project also addresses themes such as the recycling of materials, transport and the use of renewable energies. Pilots enable new types of low-carbon business. Work is part of the region's fight against climate change. Finnish Environmental Institute, SYKE, granted South Karelia region Hinku - “Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities” status in November 2019.

Together with rural residents

The broad involvement of residents is very important in order to develop existing low-carbon practices more strongly from the point of view of rural residents. For this work, 30 voluntary families are sought throughout the province who want to reduce their own carbon footprint and share the practices they have identified.

Training is provided for volunteers and their carbon footprint is calculated both at the beginning and at the end of the trial period. Residents can choose the most appropriate actions for themselves. This activity is a continuation of the Greenreality homes -campaign already carried out in Lappeenranta. Now it is also possible for residents of other municipalities to join easily.

Project manager Anna-Maija Wikström from the Environmental Department of Imatra Region Office says that the search for rural climate pioneers will open in July.

– Volunteers are collected through an open search and you can join in when the time is right for you. The trial period will last for more than one year and advice will be provided flexibly as households are involved.

Pilot projects are being searched in the countryside, e.g. village houses that want to increase their energy efficiency. Practical plans will be made for these sites, e.g. introducing solar or wind power. Open presentation and training sessions and events will be organized to improve energy efficiency. Training is also organised on a variety of climate change adaptation themes.

Increasing carbon sinks

Typical carbon sinks are water systems and plants that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The project will improve the carbon sinks of rural areas in forests, farms and rural settlements by sharing information and by searching for and developing different types of examples and pilot sites. The project introduces carbon sinks suitable for rural areas, such as wetlands, meadows and better carbon-binding forests. In rural areas, various green solutions can also be added, such as multi-green areas, parks, gardens and plot-growing areas. Lappeenranta and Imatra present their own implemented carbon sink sites as an example.

Co-operation with strength

The fight against climate change is not done alone and does not stop at the borders of municipalities. There is already an extensive cooperation network in South Karelia carrying out climate work. The cooperation aims at broad visibility both nationally and internationally," says Ilkka Räsänen, Environmental Director of the City of Lappeenranta.

– Lappeenranta continued to make it to the finals in the European Green Leaf Award 2021. Success will come when climate work is carried out systematically and it is also actively communicated.

The City of Imatra has done goal-oriented climate work since 2007. Greenhouse emissions have been reduced by almost one third since then. The City of Imatra is preparing an action plan that would allow the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Further information:
Project manager Anna-Maija Wikström
Hinkua to South Karelia! project

Hinkua Etelä-Karjalaan!

Implementers: Environmental Department of Imatra Region, Lappeenranta Region’s Environmental Office

Project period: 1.3.2020 – 31.12.2022

Funding: 350 000 €

Financing Programme: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

Website: www.imatra.fi/HinkuaEteläKarjalaan

Further information:
Project manager Anna-Maija Wikström,
Hinkua to South Karelia! project
tel. +358 20 617 4320, anna-maija.wikstrom@imatra.fi
City of Imatra/ Environmental Department of Imatra Region

Various measures are actively communicated on the project's website.