The Rural Network of Finland started active operation in November 2007, after team members from the seven-person Rural Network Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry were mobilised as network coordinators. The pace of the network’s development has snowballed ever since.
The Rural Network Unit is based in Seinäjoki in the heart of the vital rural region of Western Finland.
The unit coordinates and helps to ensure commitment to the national Rural Network, disseminating information on the opportunities and achievements of the rural development programmes for Mainland Finland and the autonomous Åland Islands. These programmes aim to maintain and boost the vitality of the Finnish countryside, improve the state of the environment, and ensure the sustainable use of renewable natural resources.
The Finnish Rural Network brings together the various actors involved in the rural development programmes, including Leader action groups, associations, advisory organisations and other stakeholders. The crucial factor behind the success of network activities is that actors feel they truly belong to the Rural Network, and can use it to build new links and create new forms of cooperation.
The activities of the Rural Network are directed by the 22-member Rural Network Steering Group. In the background, three thematic working groups provide a source of inspiration for the activities – working groups on innovation and co-operation between regions, and a Leader working group. Additional ad hoc working groups may be set up as necessary.