Urban Arctic nature: A collaborator, competitor and catalyst

27.4.2018 13:00

Spring has finally arrived to Lapland and nature around us is changing every day. Research professor Monica Tennberg takes a look at the different roles of nature within people's lives in the Arctic region


Nature is an essential part of human-environment relationships in the Arctic. Nature is often seen in terms of biodiversity, renewable and non-renewable resources or ecosystem services as part of various human activities in Arctic rural areas. This blog focuses on multiple roles nature has in the urban Arctic environment. In a city like Rovaniemi, nature is a collaborator with, competitor to and catalyst for human activities in everyday life.

Nature as a collaborator creates wonderful snowy winter lands with colorful northern lights and in summer nightless nocturnal landscapes for locals and visitors to admire even from the city center. Nature also collaborates in making the city green and lush, at least in relative terms, especially in spring and summer after a couple of days of warmth and moist when flowers, hedges and trees explode in different shades of green and other colors.

Nature is also a competitor with humans and their activities in urban space. Weeds and other unwanted plants known as “invasive alien species” grow in the city and insects annoy people and make them hide inside in the summer. Reindeer, who also flee the insects to the city, annoy people by wondering to their yards and by disturbing traffic. Competition for urban space is fierce in winter too like this one has been. There is just too much snow and ice, in the wrong places, on streets, houses and everywhere else.  

Nature is also a catalyst for human activities in the city. In the winter, the whole city seems to spend their Sunday afternoons on the river skiing, fishing and golfing on the river ice. The river is also an important place for recreation in the summer: a place to swim, fish, and to do many other water related activities. Warm days and sun in the summer brings people to the main square in the city centre - “to the common living room” - to enjoy company and refreshments.

Nature is in the city.

Text and picture by Monica Tennberg



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