08.7.2024

IAS heroes: Information exchange, work demonstrations & volunteer work at the international seminar in Rovaniemi

In June 2024, a group of Nordic invasive alien species professionals attended the Barents IAS seminar in Rovaniemi. In addition to interesting presentations and a workshop, the participants had the opportunity to learn about various control methods and take part in traditional Finnish communal volunteer work. Invasive alien species do not respect national borders, meaning […]

In June 2024, a group of Nordic invasive alien species professionals attended the Barents IAS seminar in Rovaniemi. In addition to interesting presentations and a workshop, the participants had the opportunity to learn about various control methods and take part in traditional Finnish communal volunteer work.

Invasive alien species do not respect national borders, meaning close cooperation between neighboring countries is a prerequisite for successful IAS management. Even though holidays were around the corner, around 30 participants from Finland, Sweden and Norway gathered for the IAS seminar in Rovaniemi on 26–27 June 2024. The attendees were from state administrations, municipalities, road administrations, research institutes, the third sector as well as the business world.

Wednesday June 26th was spent listening to seminar presentations at Science Centre Pilke and in the afternoon, the participants worked to solve IAS issues in workshops. At dinner, participants continued getting to know each other and sharing stories of IAS work.

Seminar participants came from Finland, Sweden and Norway, and they enjoyed a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Thursday June 27th was spent with various work demonstrations as well as volunteer work.

The program included presentations on the effects of Finnish birch pyrolysis liquid and hot water treatment on hogweeds (Heracleum persicum spp.). Stian Forland introduced a solution from the Norwegian company SoilSteam to clean the seed bank of harmful invasive species from the soil.

Kalle Hellström from the Rural Women’s Advisory Organization demonstrates the use of EcoKoivu pyrolysis liquid on hogweeds.

Participants were also able to observe how Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) can be controlled through hot water treatment.

Kimmo Kärki from Eco Weedkiller shows how hot water treatment destroys the Himalayan balsam foliage but points out that because of the seed bank in the soil, the treatment has to be repeated enough times.

During the day, participants also became familiar with butterbur found in Rovaniemi’s urban landscape. They discussed when a plant should be considered invasive and whether invasive alien species have important functions, such as the butterbur in Rovaniemi which prevents erosion along the riverbank.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is abundant in central Rovaniemi along the Kemi River. The plant is an alien species but hasn’t been classified as invasive in Finland.

At the riverside, conveniently right next to the railway bridge, Susanna Koivujärvi from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency talked about utilizing artificial intelligence in controlling invasive alien species along railways and roads.

Participants also had the chance to see the beautiful botanical gardens of the Arktikum Science Centre. The garden contains a few seedlings of the Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis), and the attendees went over how garden lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus)and Nootka lupines can be differentiated.

Ella Ahti, project coordinator of Barents IAS from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), explains that the stem of the Nootka lupine is usually branched. The undersides of the leaves are hairy, they have 6–8 leaflets and are more slender compared to the garden lupine.

The field day and the seminar as a whole was wrapped up with an anticipated event, when participants got to experience a popular Finnish tradition: communal voluntary work or ‘talkoot’. Under the guidance of Ursula Karjalainen from the Keep Lapland Tidy association, attendees weeded out Himalayan balsam. Lastly, of course, volunteers had a chance to enjoy some coffee and snacks, which is an integral part of the tradition. Then it was time for the participants to head home, bringing with them a wealth of information, great ideas and some new and useful contacts.

Himalayan balsam is easy to weed out as it comes off the ground easily, root and all. With a joint Nordic effort, the sacks filled up quickly.

The local association of Rural Women’s Advisory Organization (MKN) in Rovaniemi served delicious coffee and snacks  in a beautiful setting. It was a great way to end an interesting and successful seminar.

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