ABLOY-protected Landscape Rewilding Programme restores nature’s own tools for combating global warming

At Linnunsuo, a 110-hectare restored wetland in North Karelia, Finland, a tiny cabin plays a vital role in the fight against climate change, despite its size. What’s the secret behind the power of this hut and its connection with Abloy?

The winner of the prestigious Worldwide Fund for Nature 2002 Panda Prize for best national ecological project, the Snowchange Cooperative, was started in late 2000 to document and work with the local and Indigenous communities of the Northern regions. The Snowchange Cooperative is not solely devoted to the advancement of Finnish traditions and culture; it is also a network of local and Indigenous cultures around the world, and a powerful scientific organisation.

Snowchange’s newest project, the Landscape Rewilding Programme, is set to return patches of land such as former peat production areas to their natural state, allowing biodiversity to flourish. Where wetlands are concerned, the peat-accumulating area will emerge as a carbon sink that reduces greenhouse gases and slows global warming. The problem lies in the peat extraction that destroys the area’s natural marsh mire habitat, causing endangered species to be lost and water pollution. However, for its own part, the restoration of these areas can alleviate and address global warming.

According to Tero Mustonen, a geographer who is a Lead Author in the IPCC and the President of the Snowchange Cooperative, the rewilding work has an impact not only in Finland but throughout the world. Ultimately, the climate has no national borders.

“The giant forest fires that have taken place over the last year are a worsening manifestation of climate change, causing the loss of the planet’s natural ability to sequester carbon. There are five million hectares of peatland in Finland. If all five million or even hundreds of thousands of hectares of former peatland were restored in Finland, it would be possible over time to create new carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots to address the loss of other similar sites throughout the world,” says Tero Mustonen.

In practice, restoring peatlands entails the blocking of ditches and removal of trees. These measures cause the water level in the peatlands to rise, allowing species to return and the accumulation of peat to begin. Rewilding in Finland could be beneficial to both local communities, whose ecosystems may be restored, and the principle of rewilding itself, which may be enriched by a new apprehension of nature management. In strengthening the health of Finland’s wild nature, rewilding may constitute the starting point for a new way of caring for nature all over the world.

A challenging pilot environment for a digital lock

Let’s get back to North Karelia and the Linnunsuo measurement centre, where it all began. Among other things, this station monitors the acidity, electrical conductivity and iron content of the soil in the former peat production area. Right here, the cooperation between Abloy and Snowchange began with the common need to secure precious work for the Nordic environment.

“We started a conversation about how Abloy could support climate work and take solution-oriented biodiversity work forward. Our Linnunsuo measuring station contains very sensitive technology that is important to secure. Another factor is the cooperative’s growing staff, for whom a visit to the measurement centre must be easy and flexible at any time of the day,” says Mustonen.

Operated with a mobile app, the new ABLOY BEAT Bluetooth padlock allows flexible access and the activation of access rights for users of the Linnunsuo measuring station. Designed for remote areas and busy schedules, it drastically simplifies Snowchange’s travel and key logistics, ensuring savings in emissions, costs and time.

Another interesting aspect of the ABLOY BEAT pilot site at Linnunsuo is the Super Weather Proof (SWP) lock’s response to the area’s challenging weather conditions. In addition to snow accumulation, the temperature in winter can drop to -30 degrees in the river valley. Linnunsuo therefore offers a great pilot environment for a digital locking solution designed for critical infrastructure protection.

“The new solution has only been in use for a couple of weeks. The coming winter will show how well the lock meets our needs. If everything goes well, we’ll consider extending its use to our other destinations. In Upper Lapland, for example, winters are even harsher than here in North Karelia. There, we’re already talking about -40 degrees Celsius. And destinations can be dozens of kilometres from a settlement with a working telephone connection. This poses quite a challenge for the lock, but Abloy’s tough quality makes a big difference,” says Mustonen.

Visible results

Abloy and the Snowchange Cooperative are united in their pursuit of concrete actions to solve problems. The impact of the Snowchange Cooperative’s restoration work is already visible.

Not only has the wetland’s water area expanded to more than 110 hectares; it has also developed significant habitats for many rare species. This spring’s highlight was when a very rare bird species, the Long-billed Dowitcher, arrived at Linnunsuo. The bird has only been observed in Finland about twenty times. Snowchange’s long-term work is clearly heading in the right direction.

As Mustonen puts it, “Nature seems to have accepted what we’re doing in the area.”