Broadening boundaries – naturally, the Green Belt of Fennoscandia

11 March 2010 | News story

A landmark agreement was recently signed between Norway, Finland and Russia for the development of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia - the vast area in Northern Europe uniting the three countries, spreading across the Kola peninsula, Finland and Karelia. This will reinforce the European Green Belt initiative and give greater priority to the well-established transboundary cooperation in Fennoscandia and the Barents Euroarctic Region.

Metsähallitus, Sulo Norberg
The Urho Kekkonen National Park
which lies in the Green Belt
of Fennoscandia.

The European Green Belt is an initiative coordinated by IUCN. It runs from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, spanning some of the most important biodiversity habitats and almost all distinct natural regions in Europe. The Initiative connects National Parks, Biosphere Reserves and transboundary protected areas as well as non-protected areas along and across borders of 23 countries, harmonizing management methods on both sides of the borders and supporting regional development initiatives.

 
The Green Belt initiative follows the course of the border between Eastern and Western Europe at the end of World War II. As this area remained relatively undisturbed by human intervention or settlement for over 40 years, it became an important natural corridor, with impressive examples of biodiversity. Although its biological value was recognised already before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, it is now that its importance has become critical to biodiversity conservation. The area, which forms a corridor crossing the continent, provides a North-South link enabling species to respond and adapt to the growing climate change pressures.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the development of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia between Norway, Finland and Russia is a perfect example of trans-boundary conservation action. It creates an opportunity to safeguard some of the oldest boreal forests, which harbour about 50 percent of the endangered forest species in the area.

"It gives political priority to the long-term and well-established trans-boundary cooperation in conservation, particularly between protected areas in the Fennoscandian region. I also hope it will provide better opportunities for using financial mechanisms, such as the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), for improving the status of protected areas and their trans-boundary activities", said Stig Johansson, Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas of the Europe Region.

“The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Norway, Finland and Russia is a great step forward in the development of the European Green Belt and with it another part of the 13,000 km jig-saw puzzle fits in to place. It is a fine example of effective trans-boundary environmental cooperation to be exemplified elsewhere”, said Lee Dudley, IUCN Green Belt Coordinator.

Listen to Lee Dudley speak about the project and its challenges:

 

For more information contact:
Lee Dudley, IUCN Green Belt Coordinator, t 381 (0)11 2272 411 , e lee.dudley@iucn.org