Press Release

17 September – 5 October 2014, Galleria G, Helsinki, Finland

The protected aapa mire in the visual artist Kaija Kiuru’s exhibition means Viiankiaapa in the municipality of Sodankylä in Finnish Lapland. The works in the exhibition speak out in favour of the protected Viiankiaapa mire against mining plans. Viiankiaapa is one of the mire conservation and Natura areas; however, ore prospecting permits have been granted for the area, and it is still an object of permit applications for claims and ore prospecting.

An ore zone, which is described as geologically very interesting, runs from northern Sweden across Finnish Lapland to Russia. The most promising mining deposits in Lapland are located in areas included in the Natura network or in their vicinity, and that is why more and more permit applications for ore prospecting concern protected areas. About one third of the area of Sodankylä municipality consists of different protected areas, and another third has been claimed or reserved for ore prospecting. In Viiankiaapa, among others, protected areas overlap with ore prospecting areas.

Viiankiaapa (about 66 km2) is one of the largest and most versatile aapa mires in Lapland. The aapa mire is a combined mire type with an open and wet fen in the middle and pine or spruce mires on the edges. Viiankiaapa has been compared to Posoaapa (in Finnish Lapland), once the largest aapa mire in Europe, which was submerged by the Lokka Reservoir in the late 1960s. Ten plant and 21 bird species classified as threatened or near threatened have been found in Viiankiaapa, which enjoys a diverse range of species.

The nickel-copper deposit found in Viiankiaapa has been characterised as the ore discovery of the century. At local level, estimated economical aspects going beyond two or three decades are now set against the preservation of natural diversity and local culture. It is possible to depart from the protection of a Natura area with a Government decision, if there is a “highly important, compelling reason of public interest” for the realisation of a project. However, the European Commission also has to give its opinion on the matter. Viiankiaapa will probably be an important precedent both nationally and in the whole EU.

Viiankiaapa connects the extremities of human activity: the desire to protect and preserve on one hand and the desire to exploit and make profits on the other. Viiankiaapa is near and local, but at the same time also global, because similar clashes between human activity and the natural environment take place everywhere in the world.

Financial support for the exhibition has been granted by the Lapland Regional Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Arts Promotion Centre Finland / the Regional Office of Lapland.