In Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, the Arctic Circle, it’s a busy time for Santa Claus. He has taken over the protection of an ambitious project called Santa’s Forest. The project aims to make Santa Claus Village a carbon-neutral tourist destination over the next five years while offering individuals and companies a way to offset their carbon footprint.
Santa’s Forest project began in 2019 when ways were sought to promote low-carbon tourism in Lapland. A project funded at that time by the European Regional Development Fund; Santa Claus Village – a year-round international tourist centre, found an operator to Santa’s Forest whose vision was in line with the goals of Santa Claus Village.
Santa’s Forest aims to take responsible tourism one step further. While responsible tourism seeks to minimize harm to both nature and local culture, Santa’s Forest also seeks to create something new and lasting for the regional economy, nature and people; now tourists can leave behind carbon sinks, nature reserves and jobs for locals.
“Our goal is to plant a million seedlings in Santa’s Forests around Lapland over the next 10 years meanwhile creating a thousand hectares on new nature reserves to act as carbon sinks,” says Judy Saballero, one of the founders of the Santa’s Forest project. “We have created a portal that allows anyone to be involved in achieving this goal with an investment starting from just 10 euros. Planting a tree costs only 2.5 euros per unit and this also includes the acquisition of the ground. The project received seed funding from Business Finland, which has been used to create a conceptual operating model and has now been launched on the santasforest.org web portal.”
When new forests are planted, locals, mainly young people and those in the early stages of their careers, are employed. After planting, these forests will be then turned into nature reserves through our portal so that they cannot be felled in the future, but can act as carbon sinks for centuries to come.
“The Santa’s Forest project provides excellent support for Santa Claus Village’s goal of promoting low-carbon tourism. The operational concept of Santa’s Forest also strengthens the region’s experiential service offering, by providing customers with a new responsible and year-round way to ensure White Christmas in the future,” adds Antti Nikander, the development manager of Santa Claus Village.