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Here’s how the streams around Helsinki Airport are being rehabilitated

8.7.2017 at 06:00
Finavia employees spent a day with the City of Vantaa’s two “streamkeepers”, repairing Kylmäoja stream that runs next to Helsinki Airport. With the help of systematic water handling and the rehabilitation of streams, the local trout population has returned to Vantaa’s brooks.

In 2017, Finavia supports the maintenance of local streams that run through Vantaa – the city in which Helsinki Airport is located. The idea is to rehabilitate brooks and streams, return them to a more natural state, and create better living conditions for the endangered Finnish sea trout population that call it home.

“Back in the day, streams were cleared of rocks and the riverbeds straightened out for more efficient flow: Many of them now resemble linear chutes. However, sea trout require sheltered places like bends and rocky ground to spawn in and to protect their young who hatch in the spring. That’s why we add stones of the right size, build spawning grounds, clean the streams of man-made waste and remove barriers that block the trout from swimming upriver,” says one of Vantaa’s two streamkeepers, 27-year-old Christian Koivula.

Finavia participating in the maintenance work

Finavia supports the maintenance of Vantaa’s streams financially. In addition, a group of 14 Finavia employees participated on 16th of June 2017 in maintenance work at Kylmäoja, the stream that runs next to Helsinki Airport.

During the day, a stretch of a couple hundred meters of Kylmäoja received full rehabilitation. Stones were added to the stream, a spawning ground for trout was built out of gravel and the banks of the stream were cleared of an invasive plant species that erodes the ground.

“Finavia wants to further the conservation of nature in its surroundings. We have worked hard to minimize the emissions from the airport to local waters and to control the amount of urban runoff,” says Tuija Hänninen, Environmental Specialist at Finavia. “Supporting Vantaa’s streamkeepers is a natural

continuation of our long-term water management work – and a fun alternative to office work for our people.”

The improved management of urban runoff has helped to rehabilitate the water quality in nearby streams to the level where the trout population – which had previously nearly disappeared – has now returned to spawn in Kylmäoja.

“The level of emissions to Kylmäoja has reduced greatly due to improved water management at Helsinki Airport. The return of the trout is a great sign, and with the help of Vantaa’s streamkeepers, the fish will enjoy even better living conditions,” Hänninen says.

Conservation of streams is important

Streamkeeper Koivula hopes that other areas in Finland would follow Vantaa’s lead in conserving and rehabilitating streams.

”I study environmental ecology in Mikkeli, and through my hobbies of fishing and hiking I’ve seen countless streams in Finland that are in desperate need of rehabilitation. In this respect, Vantaa is ahead of many other places,” Koivula says.

”For me, working at the brooks is highly motivating. I get to put my personal effort into the maintenance of streams and help the highly endangered trout population at a crucial time. If we do not rehabilitate the streams now, the species will soon be extinct.”

Finavia’s crew also receives praise from Koivula.

”It was nice to see how well they took to the job and the great results they were able to achieve in a day. Many local people from Vantaa have also stopped to thank us for the important work we do.”

See a video about water management at Finavia.