Helsinki Nature is a multimedia project 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 abundant 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 and urban expansion. 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.
Helsinki Nature brings existing climate and nature knowledge forward, gathers new understanding, and communicates the story of local nature and its connections to climate change and biodiversity.
Commissioned artistic visual and written works are a central part of the project. Works accepted during the Winter Open Call held earlier this year will be published throughout the autumn and coming winter. Works accepted during the ongoing Autumn Open Call will be published throughout this and next year.
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. Additional funding is provided by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
Photo by Anna Björklund.