The sand habitats of Vattaja in Lohtaja form the widest Natura 2000 area in our country with sandy dune habitat types. There are over 450 ha of open sand habitat and the length of the unbroken sand shore is over 15 kilometres. Besides the prints of webbed and swimmer’s feet, for decades there have also been the footprints of soldiers’ boots in the sand. Vattaja is one of the two Defence Forces’ military exercise and artillery practice areas under nationwide development.
The main targets of Vattaja Dune LIFE project were adjusting the Defence Forces’ exercise use and the recreational use in accordance with dune conservation. The Metsähallitus, the Defence Forces and the Environment Centre were of the opinion that the EU LIFE instrument was the best way to creditably carry out the aforementioned targets. Significant habitat types and species were conserved, for example, by restoring damaged dunes, forests, meadows and wetland.