World Environment Day 2023: More Trees for Kontiolahti

For this year's World Environment Day 2023, we joined the Organising Committee Kontiolahti (FIN) as they planted the trees they pledged during their candidacy for the BMW IBU World Championships 2027.

At last year's 15th Ordinary IBU Congress in Salzburg, the Finnish bid for Kontiolahti announced that they would plant 2027 trees and trees for each delegation attending the IBU Congress. Eventually, Otepää (EST) was selected as the World Championship host - but the tree-planting in Kontiolahti went ahead either way.

Today, World Cup volunteers, staff and partners gathered to plant a total of 3,000 seedlings on a land area some 2.5km away from Kontiolahti Biathlon Stadium - the planted trees are going to speed up the forestation of the two-hectare-sized area. A mix of several tree seedlings has been used as mixed stands diminish the risk of larger forest damage.

“As a part of our application for the Biathlon World Championships last year, we committed ourselves to plant trees to offset the carbon emissions for example from the travels of our own organization”, says Kimmo Turunen, president of Kontiolahti Sport Club.

Prominent tree planters

Finnish Mister of the Interior, Krista Mikkonen and biathlete Tero Seppälä joined the tree planting event. Seppälä graduated as a forest engineer in 2021, so switching from the rifle in training to the planting gun came more than naturally to him.

”Finland has a lot of forests. This field offers a lot of different kinds of jobs. You are active, spend time in nature and don’t just sit in front of the computer. In Finland, a lot of skiers and biathletes are foresting as their summer job. I started when I was 14. I own some forest myself and also help my relatives take care of theirs.”

Last year, OC Kontiolahti was one of the inaugural winners of the IBU OC Award for Excellence in Sustainability for its holistic approach to sustainability, considering not just the environmental factors, but also elements of inclusion, accessibility, and safety.

Today's event continued in the same vein - with both staff and community being involved to get active and participate, showing the positive impact sports events and their organisers can have on the community and surrounding area.

In 6 months' time, the IBU Cup season opens in Kontiolahti - but in the meantime, the seedlings planted today have time for their first growth spurt.

Pictures: Jarno Artika

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