Located only 20 kilometers from the Tampere market place Keskustori, the hiking and recreation area of Kintulammi has a long history. Already in 1959 a part of the area, the Vattula common forest, was protected. In 2003 the protected area was extended. Last year the city of Tampere decided to protect the majority of the Kintulammi area, and the size of the nature reserve is now over 540 hectares. In addition to environmental protection, the area is being developed for hiking and recreation. A big group of volunteers is participating in the project along with the official personnel.

About 15 kilometers of hiking paths will be built, and on top of guideposts, the necessary duckboards and resting areas will be put in place. Ekokumppanit Oy carries out building the paths. According to their project specialist Petri Mäkelä, volunteers have been an important part of the renovation work of the area.

– A maintenance and utilization plan for the area was made already in 2007. Several hiking, environmental protection, outdoor recreation, and village associations took part in preparing the plan. Now that we are in charge of the area renovation, we gathered the group together again, asked how the area should be developed, and on what terms, describes Mäkelä.

Carrying duckboards. Photo: Juho Kytömäki

Carrying duckboards. Photo: Juho Kytömäki

In addition to planning, the volunteers have participated in numerous work parties, where they have, for example, carried duckboard and lean-to materials into the woods and treaded new paths. According to Mäkelä, approximately 60 people have participated in different work parties. One of them is Mika Kuronen, who values Kintulammi as an important place for enjoying nature and hiking. Kuronen appreciates the fact that environmental protection and hiking associations are involved in the planning.

– The precious nature of the area has to be taken into consideration when creating hiking paths and structures. The development of the recreation area brings forth pressure of utilization, which can cause disturbances in the sensitive flora and fauna. A well-planned hiking path network and functioning camping structures will make people stick to the marked paths, states Kuronen.

Kintulammi is a familiar place from decades ago to many volunteers. The chairperson of backpacker’s club Tunturikerho Kolbma Hanna Sinilehto and member Merja Rintakoski gladly participated in the planning and work parties, because they have hiked in the area for a long time and consider the development important.  Sinilehto says that she has paid special attention to communications: for example, using social media has activated new people and the youth. Mäkelä from Ekokumppanit explains that coordinating the volunteer work was done by inviting different associations and organizations to work parties; they then invited their members to join in. With maintenance work progressing and the number of work parties increasing, some people are actively inquiring about additional work.

The maintenance and development of the recreation and environmental protection area Kintulammi has inspired many people to become volunteers. According to the volunteers, the project has advanced very smoothly. Antti Putaja, who has been one of the two people in charge of treading paths, acknowledges that the project has moved forward without unnecessary meetings, and the volunteers have had a real possibility to make a difference. Mika Kuronen mentions that volunteering has given him a great chance to learn new things and meet new people. In addition to gaining experience and good mood, the volunteers feel that the visibility of the Kintulammi development project is a good way to make people interested in hiking in nature as well as in the importance of environmental protection.

Text and opening photo: Anna Oraluoma

Translation: Satu Puolitaival