Protected Aapa Mire

Protected Aapa Mire project speaks out in favour of Viiankiaapa nature conservation area in the municipality of Sodankylä. A multinational mining company aims at cancelling the conservation status of the area and starting mining operations there.


Viiankiaapa (65,95 km²)  is one of the largest and most versatile aapa mires in Europe and therefore belongs to both the National Mire Conservation Programme and the EU Natura 2000 network. According to the species inventories made so far, the Viiankiaapa nature protection area enjoys 17 plant and 21 bird species that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies as near threatened or endangered.

Viiankiaapa also belongs to the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt. Green schist rich in ore is an ideal growing medium e.g. for the different marsh orchid species growing in Viiankiaapa. The same areas are valuable from the viewpoints of biodiversity and geology. Since the year 2004, Sakatti Mining owned by British-based, globally operating Anglo American has been searching for ores in the protected area. The nickel-copper deposit discovered so far is considered significant, and the company aims at starting mining operations in the area. Granting of a mining permit for the protected area would also put many other Natura 2000 network areas in danger, as similar economic and employment aspects could be used as criteria. So, this is not a question of one wetland somewhere in the periphery only, but also of the plight of nature protection in general.

Sakatti Mining is not the only company prospecting for ores in nature conservation areas in Lapland. Metals will be needed in the future as well, but mines should not be allowed to operate in protected areas. IUCN says that states should prohibit mining operations and other projects threatening nature in all nature conservation areas. IUCN also recommends mining industry should voluntarily stay out of these areas.  

Protected Aapa Mire -project

Kaija Kiuru made her first works of art commenting on the conflict between protection and mining plans in 2012 and gradually, individual works came to form an entire project. Protected Aapa Mire consists of Kiuru’s exhibitions and a book about Viiankiaapa, which will be published in 2019. The book, which connects art and science, will be produced in cooperation between Kaija Kiuru and PhD Timo Helle, who is Adjunct Professor of Animal Ecology and a nature writer.

The Protected Aapa Mire project is a result of Kaija Kiuru’s desire by means of art to take a stand on mining plans concerning a nature conservation area. One role of art is to bring about a social debate, in this case on the position of protected areas because of land-use pressures increasing for different reasons. Viiankiaapa is near and local, but at the same time also global, as we encounter similar clashes between human activity and the natural environment all over the world.

In addition to her own mire experiences, the origin of Kaija Kiuru’s works of art is in scientific research data, the livelihood history of Viiankiaapa, and mining plans threatening the area. Her works of art deal with relationship between man and landscape/place, a threat to a landscape, geological natural resources and marsh orchids (Dactylorhiza) growing in Viiankiaapa. She selects her ways of working and materials to be used according to current ideas.

Exhibitions of the Protected Aapa Mire project:

Exhibition 1 in September 2014: Galleria G maintained by the Association of Finnish Printmakers, Helsinki.
Exhibition 2 in late 2016: Northern Photographic Centre, Oulu.
Exhibition 3 in July-August 2017: Museum Gallery Alariesto and the library, Sodankylä.
Exhibition 4 in October 2017: Gallery Napa and Studio Mustanapa run by the Artists' Association of Lapland, Rovaniemi.    

The last exhibition of the project and the publication of the book will take place in Helsinki in 2019.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Majaoja Foundation have supported Kaija Kiuru’s working in the project. The Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers has supported Timo Helle. In 2018–2019 the project is supported by the  Kone Foundation.


Updated 18.1.2018