Responsible tourism in Rokua Geopark

Responsibility is our core value. The Sustainable Travel Finland guidelines guide our tourism sector and businesses towards more sustainable and responsible operations.

Responsibility is our core value

We recognise that we live and work in a unique natural environment that must be respected. We want to enhance local vitality and opportunities for a good life in the peace and quiet of the forest and the countryside. We want to offer our guests the opportunity to enjoy a carefree journey into nature and to appreciate the rich cultural heritage. We will do our best to make it easy for you to find responsible services and safe routes and places to visit in the future.

We are part of Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel Finland programme, which aims to make Finland a leader in sustainable tourism. The Sustainable Travel Finland guidelines guide our tourism sector and businesses towards more sustainable and responsible operations.

Sustainable Travel Finland programme

Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) provides us with tools and guidance for our tourism destinations and businesses to become more sustainable. Sustainability is about doing big and small things for the local environment, culture and economy. We want our activities to enable responsible and environmentally friendly visits and activities in our area while telling the story of how our incredible landscape was created.

The STF programme includes precise criteria for communicating sustainable tourism plans, as well as metrics and documentation. Upon completion of the programme, the company or the tourism area is awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label as a sign of good work towards sustainability.

Read more about the programme

Towards responsible tourism together with our businesses

Montta Active Camping, a multi-purpose campsite in Muhos in the Oulu River landscape, is the first company in our region to be awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label! Discover Montta Active Camping.

Another partner company that has been awarded the STF label is Luonnollisesti Oulujärvi (“Lake Oulu Naturally”), a programme service company operating in the Lake Oulu area. Explore the services offered by Luonnollisesti Oulujärvi.

See our other companies on the STF track (company and industry):

Taikaloora, Vaala
Atteson Fishing, Rokua and Lake Oulu area
Marjikko, Muhos and Oulujoki Valley area
Rokua holiday villas, Rokua
Rokua Health & Spa Hotel, Rokua
Merilän Kartano, Utajärvi
Vuoton Joutsen, Muhos ja Kiiminkijoen alue
Oulujokilaakson Golf, Muhos


UNESCO Global Geoparks Mission

Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Geoparks Programme. Sounds great, but what does it mean in practice?
Geoparks are geographical areas with an internationally significant geological heritage. In other words, their natural environment shows exceptionally clear signs of ancient geological processes that have had a significant impact over time on, for example, vegetation and human life in the area. There are currently 177 geoparks in 46 countries around the world. In addition to Rokua Geopark, Finland has three UNESCO Global Geoparks: Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark, Saimaa Geopark and Salpausselkä Geopark.

But for UNESCO Global Geopark status, attractive travel destinations are not enough. At the heart of a Geopark’s activities is a commitment to protect its geological heritage and to promote sustainable development, research and education. Our activities are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Geoparks should also promote tourism, which has been identified as an important economic activity, creating income and employment opportunities in remote areas. The region’s internationally unique natural environment and cultural heritage offer excellent opportunities to develop tourism and raise awareness of its special features. Our mission is to provide tourists and locals with comprehensive information about our region and to promote responsible tourism.

Cooperation and networking, both locally and with other geoparks around the world, is also an important part of geopark activities. By working together, we can increase our understanding of how our planet works and how different cultures work. One of our most important regional partners is the National Forestry Board (Metsähallitus), whose sites such as Rokua National Park, Lake Oulujärvi National Park and Liimanninkoski rapids are magnificent examples of our geological heritage. In addition, the Geological Survey of Finland plays a key role in studying the geology of our Geopark.

Explore the Rokua National Park
Explore the Lake Oulu recreation area
Explore Liimanninkoski rapids
Explore Geological Survey of Finland

Read more about the UNESCO Global Geopark Mission

Teaching and learning

Environmental education is a task assigned to geoparks

Geo-education, or more broadly and more familiarly environmental education, is a matter close to the heart of geoparks; we live in a geologically unique environment and it is important to learn more about it. Through environmental education we can explain the unique geology of the area and how it affects wildlife and the development of human settlements in the area.

The core of environmental education is the history of the geopark area, in the case of Rokua Geopark the legacy of the Ice Age, which is explored in the activities. This includes ancient and modern climatic variations, land and rock formations and properties, the habitats they form, and human activities as part of this complex. It is important to understand the interactions between these different environmental factors.

In addition to content, value-based learning is an essential part of environmental education. Rokua Geopark’s environmental education work emphasises the diversity of living and non-living nature, the preservation of its specific characteristics and respect for the local culture and its history. In addition to local priorities, environmental education is guided by the goals of sustainable development, which are highlighted by UNESCO’s geopark activities.

Environmental education is divided into active and passive components. Passive components include nature signs along the routes and exhibition points that present environmental features and their evolutionary history. At the heart of this approach is cooperation with educational institutions, such as local geopark schools, where geopark themes are integrated into both content and value objectives. In particular, the aim is to strengthen local young people’s sense of place and pride in their local area, which will also help them to identify new livelihood opportunities in their region.

The Geopark schools in our area are Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaala high schools, Muhos upper secondary school, Vaala comprehensive school, Utajärvi comprehensive school, the Oulujoki College and Oulujärvi Community College. Environmental education has also been carried out with local tourism entrepreneurs, for example by strengthening their environmental skills and offering nature education packages to international markets.

Geoparks are required to have a geoscientist who is responsible for producing and disseminating environmental information. Mikko Kiuttu is the environmental educator and geoscientist of Rokua Geopark. Mikko is a geography and biology teacher by training, but he has also done research on inanimate biodiversity and completed courses in environmental protection and special courses in environmental education. In his work, he often plans and sometimes implements Geopark-themed lessons together with teachers, and also participates in various events to explain the wonderful environment of Rokua Geopark. Through development projects, he has been involved in implementing new ways of communicating information about the area, and his touch can be seen in many of the area’s signs, displays and exhibitions, as well as in the realisation of some of the nature sites.

Discover the origins and special features of the Geopark area