A new feature on a Finnish news website… and a satirical utilisation of that feature

On 22 March 2019, the local Finnish news outlet Yle Lahti published a little feature about me. (original here). A few days later, a second local Finnish newspaper, Uusi Lahti, used this feature in a satirical cartoon in its printed version. This is a translation of the feature and a translation as well as context of the cartoon.

German researcher believes in Lahti’s green progress – encourages residents to take care of their environment

Nikolas Sellheim has a passionate attitude towards the environment and his hometown. As a researcher, he believes in the power of the local community to fight climate change.

Nikolas Sellheim is a postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science at the University of Helsinki. Picture: Georges Hourani / Yle

According to a recent climate barometer, Finns expect policy makers to take action to combat climate change. In addition to major political decisions, the actions of individuals and communities are also important. That’s what Nikolas Sellheim believes so he wants to turn his attention to the role of local people in nature conservation.

As a meeting place, a German-based environmental expert has chosen the area of Kutajärvi in Hollola. The 980 hectare area consists of six different bays on Lake Vesijärvi and Lake Kutajärvi. The site has been protected under the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of Wetlands since 2004.

“These places are important breeding grounds for many endangered species such as the common moorhen, blackcurrant-goose or sprat. The surrounding areas are mainly farmland, which in the past has contributed to the oversaturation of these waters,” Sellheim mentions.

The Vesijärvi project, which began in 1987, has begun to recover. At the same time, people’s awareness of waterways has increased and the status of the former wastewater lake has improved.

The obvious contribution is to keep lakes, forests and the environment in general clean.

- Nikolas Sellheim

Sellheim points out that waterways continue to suffer from human activities. The environmental expert estimates that more cooperation could protect endangered animals and double the amount of protected areas in their home region.

The researcher strongly believes that Lahti can become a forerunner at the international level and finally the European Green Capital. Lahti has won the title on two occasions and has again signed up for the race.

Everyone can keep their environment clean

Nikolas Sellheim is a German environmental expert who has a passionate attitude towards the environment. The 38-year-old has lived in Lahti for almost seven years.

Sellheim works as a visiting postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Sustainability Science at the University of Helsinki. He is currently researching the role of local communities in environmental protection legislation.

“The obvious contribution that local people can make to nature conservation is to keep lakes, forests and the environment in general clean.”

As an example, Sellheim mentions everyday activities such as collecting waste and reducing the use of non-degradable materials.

“If people take good care of the resources at their disposal, both people, animals and nature will benefit,” the researcher says.

In his spare time, Sellheim has always enjoyed outdoor activities and the abundant river basins provided by Lahti. Over time, he has started to become more involved in nature conservation and the sustainable use of resources locally.

The researcher wants to distinguish between conservation and preservation.

“Conservation means protecting the environment, plant and animal species and their sustainable use. This is different from preservation, so that nature is not used in any way,” Sellheim explains.

Kutajärvi has been protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands since 2004. Picture: Georges Hourani / Yle

Landowners observe changes

The city of Lahti says that the region’s climate has already warmed two degrees since the 1960s. The winter months have warmed up to four degrees.

Concern for the climate is real. The city of Lahti has responded to it in many different ways, such as the CitiCAP project for sustainable mobility.

Environmental awareness is like throwing a stone into a pond, which results in waves. In addition to the role of municipalities and cities, residents and landowners can also operate in many different ways. Nikolas Sellheim appeals to private landowners:

“It would be good if private landowners were watching the changes in the environment and remembering if new species were to emerge, or if they saw continuous, ongoing unusual processes, such as lichen disappearance.”

If information collected by landowners is sometimes collected, they can be of great benefit. Ideally, these notes can provide answers to why changes occur.

On 27 March 2019, Uusi Lahti referred to this feature in a cartoon, which addresses the mould problem that a lot of schools face here in the Lahti region.

Uusi Lahti, 27 March 2019. Cartoon by Jarkkis & Jussi

“I’ve heard of a some German researcher living in Lahti that he believes in Lahti’s green progress.”

“Which of Lahti’s green mould schools could he mean?”

Thank you for this, Jarkkis & Jussi!

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