POPULATION: 120 000
Finland’s eighth-largest city by population, Lahti is situated in the south of the country between the Finnish capital city Helsinki and the Russian city of St. Petersburg. On account of its strategic location, Lahti is known as an important logistics and trade hub. The Salpausselkä ridge, an ice age formation, runs through the city from east to west. Together with Lahti’s large groundwater reservoirs and diverse biotopes, the ridge provides a multiplicity of ecosystem services, natural landscapes and recreational areas to residents and visitors. Blue and green areas cover over 80% of Lahti.
The city's bold environmental choices have been recognized by the European Commission, who granted Lahti the title of European Green Capital 2021.
Making nature accessible to all
Lahti’s residents count on extensive natural resources to support well-being and recovery. Urban green areas consist mostly of forests with extensive path networks and other recreational structures such as huts and bonfire sites.
Like everywhere else in Finland, people can enjoy the national “everyman’s rights”, the general public’s right to access land, roam through forests and pick wild berries or mushrooms.
To take full advantage of its green surroundings, Lahti is seeking ways to emphasize the importance of nature to support health and well-being. As part of GoGreenRoutes, the city has developed and is pilotting the concept of a “health forest” next to the healthcare centre in the Kintterö nature conservation area.
The health forest will support the well-being and recovery of the healthcare centre staff, patients and visitors, and will be open to all Lahti citizens seeking to bring nature closer to their everyday lives. Lahti is currently exploring ways to implement platforms to help users find the restorative spots in the forest. One possible avenue would be the inclusion of virtual nature to create a more interactive experience.
Focus is being given to making nature more accessible and appealing to all segments of the population. While the overall trend with regard to well-being is positive in Finland, differences between population groups have grown in recent years.
Enhanced user-driven co-design, co-production and co-creation of nature-based services are seen as promising solutions that will be explored through the city’s involvement in the project.