Responsible travel in Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark
Responsibility is our most important value. We realize that we live and function in the midst of a unique nature that must be respected. We want to increase local vitality and opportunities for a good life in the peace of forests and countryside. We want to offer our guests the opportunity to take a carefree journey to the edge of nature and the rich cultural heritage. We do our best to make it easy for you to find responsible services and safe routes and places to visit.
We are taking part in Visit Finland's Sustainable Travel Finland program, doing our part for Finland to become the pioneer country in sustainable tourism. Sustainable Travel Finland guides the Geopark and our companies towards more sustainable and responsible operations.
On this page you can follow the journey of Rokua Geopark and the companies in our region in the Sustainable Travel Finland program!
Sustainable Travel Finland program
Sustainable Travel Finland, also known as STF, provides tools and guidance for our area and companies towards more sustainable tourism economy. Responsibility consists of big and small actions for the benefit of the local environment, culture and economy. With our activities, we want to enable a responsible and environmentally friendly visit and actions in our area, while telling the story of the formation of our incredible landscape!
The STF program includes precise criteria for making a sustainable tourism plan, communication and for measuring and documenting actions. After completing the program, the company or travel area will receive the Sustainable Travel Finland label as proof of meritorious work for responsibility! Read more about Sustainable Travel Finland program!
Towards sustainability together with our companies
The first company to receive the Sustainable Travel Finland label in our Geopark is Montta Active Camping! Montta is a camping site located on the river banks of Oulujoki River in Muhos. Get to know Montta Active Camping!
Get to know our other companies working on the STF-program:
Atteson Fishing, Rokua and Lake Oulujärvi regions
Marjikko, Muhos and River Oulujoki valley
Rokuan lomahuvilat, Rokua region
Rokua Health & Spa Hotel, Rokua region
Luonnollisesti Oulujärvi, Lake Oulujärvi region
Merilän Kartano, Utajärvi
The mission of UNESCO Global Geoparks
Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Global Geoparks program. Sounds great, but what does this actually mean?
Geoparks are geographical areas with an internationally significant geological heritage. In other words, their natural environment shows exceptionally clear signs of ancient geological processes which, over time, have also had a significant impact on, for example, the vegetation and human life in the area. There are currently 169 geoparks in 44 different countries around the world.
However, a good appearance for UNESCO Global Geopark status alone is not enough. At the heart of Geopark's activities is its commitment to protecting its geological heritage and promoting sustainable development, research and education. Our operations are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Geoparks should also promote tourism, which has been identified as an important industry, creating income and employment opportunities for remote areas. The internationally unique natural environment and cultural heritage offer excellent opportunities to develop the region's tourism and thereby raise awareness of its special features. Our mission is to provide tourists and locals with comprehensive information about our area and to promote responsible tourism.
Cooperation and networking, both locally and with other geoparks in the world, is also an important part of the activities of geoparks. Through cooperation, we can increase our understanding of how our planet works and the different cultures around the world. Our most important regional partners are Parks and Wildlife Finland, whose sites, such as Rokua National Park, the Oulujärvi hiking area and Liimanninkoski rapids, are magnificent scenes of our geological heritage. In addition, the Geological Survey of Finland plays a key role in studying the geology of our geopark.
Read more about the mission of UNESCO Global Geoparks!
Humanpolis Ltd is responsible of the operation of Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark
Humanpolis Ltd, a non-profit development company owned by the municipalities of Vaala, Utajärvi and Muhos, is responsible for the operations and development of Rokua Geopark. The company was established in 2010 at the same time as Rokua Geopark was accepted in the European Geoparks Network. The main task of “Humis” is to promote a sustainable local economy and the vitality of its region. We also want to increase local pride and local knowledge through education.
Our geopark's bottom-up approach is based on taking into account the social and economic needs and starting points of local residents and protecting our environment and culture. It includes elements such as managing development measures, communication, developing infrastructure and accessing finance.
Humanpolis Ltd has implemented numerous development projects in the Rokua Geopark area, especially promoting the tourism industry and education. For example, in the GEOfood project, local food products were combined with tourism services. The Time Travel project brought innovative exhibitions about the formation of Rokua Geopark area to our municipal centers in Utajärvi, Muhos and Vaala. Through international tourism development projects companies in our region have gained new business opportunities.
Environmental education is our special mission
Geo-education, or, more broadly and more familiarly, environmental education, is at the heart of geoparks; we live in the middle of a geologically unique environment, and it is important to get to know it better! With the help of environmental education, we can tell what the unique geology of the area is like and how it affects the living nature, and further, the formation of human settlement in the area. The backbone of environmental education is the birth story of the Geopark area, and in the case of Rokua Geopark, the heritage of the ice age, which is explored in the educational activities. These include, for example, ancient and current climatic variations, the shapes and characteristics of the soil and bedrock, the habitats they form, and human activities as part of this whole. It is important to understand the interactions between these different environmental factors.
In addition to content, an essential part of environmental education is learning values. Rokua Geopark's environmental education work emphasizes the diversity of living and non-living nature, the protection of their special features and respect for local culture and its history. In addition to local priorities, environmental education is guided by the sustainable development goals emphasized by UNESCO in its Geopark activities.
Environmental education is divided into functional and passive areas. Passive ones are represented, for example, by info boards or exhibition points along the routes, which present the special features of the environment and their history. At the heart of the functionality is cooperation with educational institutions, such as local Geopark schools, whose teaching combines Geopark themes with both content and value goals. The aim is to strengthen the knowledge and local pride of local young people in particular, so that they can also discover new livelihood opportunities in their home region. The Geopark educational institutions in our area are Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaala upper secondary schools, Vaala comprehensive school, Utajärvi comprehensive school, Oulujoki Educational Centre and Oulujärvi Adult Education Centre. Environmental education has also been carried out with local tourism entrepreneurs, for example by strengthening the environmental competence of entrepreneurs and productizing nature education units for the international market.
Geoparks must have a geoscientist who is responsible for producing and disseminating environmental information. In Rokua Geopark Mikko Kiuttu works as an environmental educator and geoscientist. Mikko is a geography and biology teacher, but he has also done research on inanimate biodiversity and completed special courses in environmental protection and environmental education, for example. In his work, he often plans and sometimes also conducts Geopark-themed lessons with teachers, and also attends various events to talk about Rokua Geopark’s wonderful surroundings. Through development projects, he has been involved in implementing new ways of sharing information in the area, and his handprint can be seen in several signposts, demonstration materials and exhibitions in the area, as well as in the implementation of some nature sites.
Learn more about Rokua Geopark's unique nature!