The First North Karelian Regional Stakeholder Meeting
The Regional Stakeholder Group of North Karelia got together in Joensuu in Metla for its first Regional Stakeholder Meeting on 14 August. The group of experts is extensive – it consists of berry- and mushroom entrepreneurs, representatives from Metsähallitus (state forests), University, The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), Municipal authorities and The Finnish Forest Centre.
In the first meeting the project and purpose of the stakeholder group work were presented and then discussed more in detail. The experts were taking part in conversation eagerly. In the group works the stakeholders pondered and innovated what kind of information and activities would benefit the utilization of and business around NWFPs in the area. Mainly the expectations and hopes of the group were in line with the aims of the project, but some new viewpoints also arose.
The conversation in the group works was interwoven around new innovations and improving the value chain of NWFPs. The Stakeholder group agreed that there is a need for improving networking in the field and activating young people in becoming interested and getting involved in the NWFP business. The availability of the resources and suitable forest management for NWFPs were also topics of discussion. One example of increasing the availability of resources would be geographic information of potential berry picking areas available.
Branding the NWFPs was considered being an important step in NWFPs business. Linking NWFPs with other services, for example in a line of tourism, well-being or health could be one option for product and service development in the future. In addition, the innovative use of IT (games and applications) and versatile use of social media, in for instance gathering information and raising awareness, were agreed to be worth paying attention to in the future.
As a conclusion it seems that the members of the Stakeholder Group of North Karelia experience that the project is useful and that their involvement in the project is more of an opportunity than a duty!