Photo: Ilpo Piiroinen

Let the River run free

endangered NATURA 2000 site in Finnish Lapland

On June 16.-17. 2001 Finnish activists of free Vuotos movement are organising a traditional rowing on the river Kemijoki to demonstrate their objection to the plans to build a reservoir for energy generation in Vuotos. Join us and enjoy the beauty of Lapland !

In 1992 the Finnish government granted the mostly state owned energy company Kemijoki a permission to apply for the right to build the Vuotos Reservoir. After years of dispute the matter was taken to the Water Rights Appeal Court. Wide areas of the Vuotos region were suggested to the NATURA 2000 network by the Environment Ministry. If the Vuotos Reservoir was built several sites with considerable national and regional natural values would be submerged.
The covernment of Finland decided these areas not being in Natura 2000 network!

The Water Court of the Northern Finland gave 29.2.2000 permission to dam the Kemi river and construct a 240 km2 big so called Vuotos reservoir.

One out of the four members of the court opposed the project. He stated that it fulfils the criteria of absolutely forbidden construction on basis of large ecological damage.

At this stage, the Water Court gave only a very restrected permission for deforestation to the power company Kemijoki to ensure that the ecological values would not be destroyed while the legal process moves on to higher courts.

The reservoir would wipe out landscapes formed during the last Ice Age about 1 5.000 years ago. Islands with valuable floodplain species, endangered plants would disappear. Hundreds of sand martines nest on the sand banks. Peregrine falcons nest there. Impact on the downstream water system would include reduction of oxygen and increase in phosporous content. Mercury load would increase.

Reindeer farming and berry picking as well as forestry are important sources of income for local people. These would be seriously affected. So, join us next summer! For further details of Vuotos project:

MEP Heidi Hautala
office in Brussels tel +32-2-2845446, e-mail hhautala@europarl.eu.int,
office in Helsinki tel +358-9-667921,e-mail hautala@vihrealiitto.fi

Photos1. showing natural values of the upper parts of the River Kemijoki.
Photos2. showing natural values of Kokonaapa, a large swamp.
Photos3. of reindeer
Photos4. showing consequences of 7 meters regulation of the natural lake of Kemijärvi.
Photos5. showing consequences of actions made the Kemijoki company in the Vuotos area.