Metsähallitus (Finland): Nature Volunteer of the Year Award 2015 to Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys – Christmas greetings money to the restoration of stream waters

Metsähallitus gives a Nature Volunteer of the Year Award again to celebrate the International Volunteer Day. This year the recognition goes to Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys (Virho) for their important work in protecting fish populations in stream waters, promoting sustainable fishing techniques and restoring stream waters. Metsähallitus also donates the money reserved for Christmas greetings to Virho for the restoration of stream waters.

Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry (Virho) is an association established in 1990 to carry out restoration and fish stock management work in stream waters. The association constructs spawning gravels and rocky areas suitable for fry to revive brown trout stocks, for example. In addition to restoration measures, Virho is engaged in extensive water monitoring, protection and communication measures.

“Wild brown trout stocks are endangered almost throughout Finland, and the sea trout is critically endangered. Without the dedicated work of volunteers, our magnificent salmonid could disappear entirely,” points out Mikko “Peltsi” Peltola, a journalist and reporter who is also engaged in volunteer work by acting as a national park sponsor.

Metsähallitus supports the important work of the association by donating the money reserved for Christmas greetings to the improvement of the living conditions of migratory fish. The sum of EUR 1,000 can be used to purchase approximately 20 cubic metres of gravel, which is the most important material besides rocks needed in stream water restoration. With the help of the donation, the association will construct spawning gravels for migratory fish in the Vantaanjoki water system. Kari Stenholm, who is responsible for measures in the Vantaanjoki water system, is happy about the award and the donation: “Virho carries out systematic restoration work in the Vantaanjoki water system and simultaneously reduces problems relating to the water system by protection measures and communication. With the support provided by Metsähallitus, we will be able to purchase materials for spawning gravels with a total area of approximately 75 square metres.”

The association will organise voluntary work activities together with Metsähallitus in July–August 2016 in the Karjaanjoki water system area to present its activities and to celebrate the Volunteer of the Year Award. The association will participate in the Freshhabit-LIFE project that will be launched in 2016 to improve the status of the aquatic environment in the Karjaanjoki water system and other water systems.

“Our active volunteers are nature and fishing enthusiasts or people otherwise interested in stream waters. We all share a common interest to improve the natural state of rivers and brooks as well as the living conditions of salmonids and other aquatic organisms,” says Esa Lehtinen, Chairman of the association. All interested volunteers are welcome to take part in the activities.

The personnel club of Metsähallitus also participated in the restoration of stream waters together with the City of Vantaa and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment last autumn. The club members constructed spawning gravels in the Tikkurila Rapids flowing next to the head office. A few weeks after the activities had been completed, the first observations of spawning sea trout were made in the new gravels. The idea of donating the money reserved for Christmas greetings as part of the Baltic Sea Commitment made by Metsähallitus emerged at that time.

A total of 26 candidates were proposed for the Nature Volunteer of the Year Award by the deadline. The Nature Volunteer of the Year was selected from among these candidates by the expert group in volunteer work of Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, which has members from different parts of Finland, supported by national park sponsor Mikko “Peltsi” Peltola and Marko Kettunen, the 2014 Award winner known for his active work for the protection of large predators.

The award and the donation will be presented to the Volunteer of the Year on Friday, 4 December 2015 in a small ceremony with traditional Finnish Christmas porridge and coffee.

For further information, please contact:

  • Esa Lehtinen, Chairman, Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry (Virho), esa.lehtinen(at), tel. + 358 40 532 8830
  • Kari Stenholm, responsible for measures in the Vantaanjoki water system, Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry (Virho), kari.stenholm(at), tel. +358 40 764 8045
  • Juha Mäkinen, Director of Communications, Metsähallitus tel. +358 206 39 4224, juha.makinen(at)
  • Eveliina Nygren, Senior Advisor, Metsähallitus, eveliina.nygren(at), tel. +358 40 759 6057

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