Promotion of transboundary nature protection and sustainable nature tourism

Eija Ojanlatva
Published: 18 November 2016
Last edited: 05 October 2020
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The project was carried out from 2006-2008 in the transboundary protected area called Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park (Finland, Norway, Russia) that focused on promoting nature protection and sustainable nature tourism in the area by developing: 1) joint methods for nature monitoring; 2) joint guidelines for sustainable nature tourism; 3) joint action plan; and 4) EUROPARC transboundary park certification.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
River, stream
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Genetic diversity
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas governance
Science and research
Sustainable financing
Other theme
Increasing temperatures
Shift of seasons
Invasive species
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Pasvik naturreservat, Sor-Varanger, Norway | Vätsäri Wilderness Area (FI), Øvre Pasvik National Park (NO), Øvre Pasvik Landscape Protection Area (NO), Pasvik Zapovednik (RU)
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Well-structured information material is needed to guide visitors to places of interest, providing information aimed at deepening their understanding of the environment, while promoting nature protection. Another challenge is to establish a formal framework for transboundary management through a permanent network for cooperation between stakeholders and partner organisations.


Local tourist entrepreneurs specialized in nature tourism, local inhabitants and tourists, municipalities of the project area, environmental authorities, researchers in three countries, managers of nature protection areas.

How do the building blocks interact?

The main building blocks of the project interacted through the development of the action plan. Specifically, the joint guidelines for sustainable nature tourism (Building Block 1); joint research/monitoring methods and results (Building Block 2); and the required elements to apply for EUROPARC certification as a transboundary protected area (Building Block 4) were included as part of the action plan (Building Block 3). Furthermore, the action plan itself fulfilled one of the requirements for the EUROPARC certification. These building blocks therefore helped to enhance transboundary cooperation, which is expected to promote peace, nature conservation, and sustainable nature tourism in the transboundary area.


Joint brown bear monitoring became a success story. The monitoring results are needed for managing the bear population, and results are of interest to local people. Information about monitoring of waterfowl and results were shared between three countries– even though the method was not harmonised in three countries. There were recreational and health benefits to local people and visitors through new hiking trails, and increased knowledge through educational and information materials. Effort was made to serve the local people well: information was provided in national languages and in English, and materials were produced especially for school children. The established nature tourism working group increased information exchange and networking among tourism entrepreneurs. Dissemination of information was built in all the activities in the project. There was increased knowledge about international cooperation in nature conservation and nature-based tourism among the target groups. During the implementation of the project, ideas for addressing both cultural and natural heritage together. Later, a project called ABCGheritage – Arctic Biological, Cultural and Geological heritage was implemented in years 2012‒2015.


It was a misty morning in the autumn, when two Finnish members of the project team drove along the Pasvik river valley south via villages of Svanvik and Skogfoss in Norway. Just to the south of the Skogfoss power plant the boat was pushed to the water, and we travelled along Russian side and observe the beautiful Pasvik Nature reserve. Our Russian colleagues and border guards joined us and together the boats were flowing with the current. On this specific day, the strict border zone between Russia and Norway was open for the scientists to register waterfowl on River Pasvik. It turned out that the driver of our boat spoke Finnish as his ancestors were Finnish, who had moved to Norway. At the end of the day it was time to sit down together on Varlam Island, Russia and put the observations together. The discussion flowed like the river – from the archaeological observations to the recent history of the Varlam Island, which has had Russian, Norwegian and Finnish inhabitants in its past. Ideas about project combining natural and cultural heritage evolved there on that day, and implementation started six years later. Bear feces in a pouch in a freezer – an important symbol of transboundary nature conservation! The noninvasive method for brown bear monitoring was used in all the three countries for the first time during the project implementation. Brisk walks in the wilderness in order to collect possible feces and especially to collect hair from a hair-snare surrounding a scent lure stay in the memories of all participants involved. The samples were then brought to Norway for DNA analysis. Field work for collecting data and get-togethers with the colleagues as well as moments spent in nature were the most important motivators for the transboundary cooperation. There are many long hours of lonesome office work containing writing, translating, counting, filling spreadsheets and so forth -- the balance from nature was needed for fruitful and lively cooperation.

Contributed by

riina.tervo_19883's picture

Riina Tervo Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland

Other contributors

Sámi Museum Siida, Inari Finland
Pasvik State Nature Reserve, Rajakoski, Murmansk Oblast, Russia
Office of the Finnmark County Governor, Norway
Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Austria
Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland, Inari, Finland