Challenge for Visitor Centres. Linking Local People, Visitors and Protected Area
This seminar, which took place in Northern Lapland in the midst of the largest national parks and wilderness areas of Finland, was part of the IUCN/WCPA Parks for Life Programme in Europe and was co-organised by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the European Committee for Environmental Education (ECEE) of IUCN and the EUROPARC Federation.
The seminar was supported and organised in practice by Metsähallitus and its Northern Lapland District for Wilderness Management. The seminar was meant for the park managers and other people working with visitor centres and conservation communication. EUROPARC organised and financed eight participants through the EUROPARC Expertise Exchange – Project which is part of the EU Phare programme. The main venue of the seminar was the Sámi Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre SIIDA in the town of Inari, 300 km north of the Arctic Circle.
The seminar focused on the role visitor centres play in environmental education and in the relationship of the protected areas to the surrounding society. The seminar also focused on conservation communication. The purpose of the seminar was to provide professionals with an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each others’ experiences. All together there were 34 participants from 16 European countries.
There were lectures, case studies, site visits and group works. In these groups an attempt was made to list possible needs to adapt to the changes in the working environment and in the conservation message in general. The exhibitions at Siida Nature Centre were also evaluated.