There is room for active women foresters in rural Kainuu!

Autumn is a busy time for Sari Härkönen (middle), project manager of the Metsänainen project. Katja Tampio-Malinen and Tarja Seilonen (on the right) eagerly welcome all the information and benefit gained from training.

Systematic management of forest property is raising the interest of ever younger women. In Kainuu the women have become really enthusiastic about forestry. Over 150 women participated in the first round of Metsänainen (women forester) training. Most of them have signed up for training in nearly all of the 12 subjects. Training is organized in all the municipalities in Kainuu.

Tarja Seilonen and Katja Tampio-Malinen from Kuhmo received the invitation through the forestry association of Kuhmo and immediately took to the idea. Small children, their own jobs and a lack of time, in addition to the traditional arrangement that the man takes care of forest business, have stopped them tackling forestry issues on their own. “The training was just what we needed,” they both said happily. ”We caught the good atmosphere right at the introductory event; the group was active and Sari was inspiring,” says Katja.

“Of course we had some skills already, but all the central areas of forestry have become familiar through the training package and our knowledge has deepened. Other important goals were working together, getting to know people and exchanging experiences,” says the project manager of the Metsänainen project, Sari Härkönen.

Forestry is familiar to Tarja Seilonen from her childhood. When she and her husband bought the home farm a few years ago, the matter became all the more urgent. Training provides the confidence to take matters up and be an equal partner in deciding on the management of shared forest property.

“The division of duties is still being worked out, but I think my own areas of competence will shape up through training. It's worth it to invest in one's own forest; conservation is combined with production in its management,” says Tarja Seilonen.

“There is never too much information. You could get it from books, but this training has been by far the easiest way of getting the most up-to-date information on forestry. The women pose different questions and comment on matters actively; things are looked at from a wider perspective,” Katja and Tarja say.

Network of female forest owners in Kainuu as a goal

“As active participation increases, one’s perspective also broadens and then it is easier to do the right things at the right time. The possibilities of participating are also increased, since more women are needed for positions of trust,” says the architect of the project Marjut Silvast, herself a member of Northern Finland's Union of Forest Owners' board.

The training is built around 12 subjects. Each participant can choose whether to attend them all or pick only those subjects that they feel to be useful and relevant. Field trips and visits to several destinations are made in addition to the courses, so the subject matter is also applied and observed in practice.

“The younger you are when you acquaint yourself with matters of forestry, the better your qualifications are to make your forest thrive and to profit from your investment,” Sari Härkönen reminds us. It would be worthwhile involving children with the forest even when they are young by taking them along for planting, giving them their own namesake forests whose growth they can follow and whose management they can participate in, showing them all the phases involved in forestry.

Metsänainen training is given throughout the Kainuu region. The project is funded by Oulujärvi Leader and Elävä Kainuu Leader local action groups, and forestry associations in the area.

Text and photograph: Marjo Nousiainen