26.09.2016 16:05

Salpausselkä hosted an event to combat climate change

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2017 organisation and its partners are part of the international movement against the climate change. Pine seedlings were planted in the yard of the Lahti Sports Centre, and Finnish winter sports athletes Niko Kytösaho (ski jumping) and Perttu Hyvärinen (cross-country skiing) joined the international team of Protect Our Winters ambassadors.

The old stands of the Lahti Sports Centre were taken down a few years ago, and today the participants in the event planted pine seedlings in the place where they once stood. Sustainable forestry plays a key role in climate change mitigation: when the seedlings grow into trees, they start to bind carbon dioxide, and sustainably managed forests and responsible timber goods serve as effective carbon sinks. The tree planting event was jointly organised by Lahti2017, its main partner Stora Enso, the Protect Our Winters Finland association and the Finnish Ski Association.

“Sustainability efforts are an important part of organising the championships, and we want to raise awareness and inspire a discussion about the future of winters and winter sports events. We want to do our bit in encouraging choices that help to mitigate climate change,” says Janne Leskinen, Secretary General of Lahti2017.

As a Finnish company and the main partner of the Lahti World Championships, Stora Enso wants to ensure that future generations are also able to enjoy Finnish forests, snowy winters and skiing.

“Our roots lie deep in the forest soil. Skiing is part of the shared tradition of the people of the north. We can combat climate change together, by managing our forests sustainably and choosing renewable materials—packaging materials, biomaterial, timber and paper,” says Jorma Länsitalo, SVP, Wood Supply at Stora Enso.

Elite athletes voice their concerns over warm winters

Niko Kytösaho and Perttu Hyvärinen are the newest members of Protect Our Winters ambassadors, an international team of athletes who take action to tackle climate change. Despite his young age, the 16-year-old Kytösaho has already seen the effects of climate change on his hobby.

“When I started ski jumping, the season lasted for several months in Paimio. In the last couple of years, the hill has only been open for juniors for about two months. In smaller towns that do not have enough resources for artificial snow, junior ski jumpers can only hit the hill in a good winter,” Kytösaho points out.

“The causes of the POW movement are important to me personally. There would be no winter sports without snow, which is why it is important to protect snow. If we lose snow, we will also lose the sport,” says Hyvärinen.

“My family farms crops and manages a forest. Global warming is not always good for the forest seedbed, although one might easily think it is. Global warming may increase the number of pests, for example,” Hyvärinen continues.

Other participants at the event included Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, cross-country skier and POW ambassador since last winter, and a group of local children from the Länsiharju school.

“The warming of winters will have a direct effect on my work. Over the last 15 years, I have seen how glaciers melt and change. For example, we cannot ski on the Ramsay glacier in September any more, so we have to roller ski long into the autumn. Because I can, I want to use my publicity to promote a good cause,” Saarinen says.

The tree planting event is part of the sustainability programme of the Lahti World Championships. The aim of the programme is to develop permanent, responsible ways of organising events. Lahti2017 will have an Eco Compass environmental system, and the organisation will apply for the Eco Compass certificate for its work. More information here.

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