The international EKOenergy label’s environmental fund and Fortum organised a public vote in December–January to give electricity consumers the opportunity to decide on which river restoration project should be financed in Finland in 2016.
The winner of the vote was Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry (Virho) for its project to restore the Vihtijoki river’s spawning conditions for salmon. The funding will be used to restore the spawning areas, protected areas for juvenile fish and the habitats for bigger fish in Vihtijoki’s rapids and streams. The migrating opportunities for the fish also will be improved and new restoration areas will be mapped.
Markus Penttinen, Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry: “The win was a recognition of Virho’s long-term work on waterways. We will use the funds to create a Finnish model of water and fish management, so that the experiences gained from it can be broadly utilised in Finland.”
Other restoration targets in the public voting were located in Merikarvia’s Salmelankoski, Isojoki’s Lohiluoma and Hanko’s Täktominlahti. Nearly 4,000 people took part in the voting. The winning project received 45% of all the votes.
“We especially encouraged the Fortum Tarkka customers who receive EKOenergy-labelled electricity to participate in the voting so that they have a direct impact on what will be funded by the EKOenergy environmental fund they support. It was great to see how many of our customers took the opportunity to vote,” says Tuomas Oksanen
A check for 50,000 euros was awarded to the Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys project at a winner’s ceremony. The environmental fund has
supported water system restoration for years, but this was the first time the public could decide on the project. “All energy production methods have an impact on nature. Hydropower has an impact on fish populations in particular. Choosing EKOenergy-labelled hydropower leads to concrete actions to improve the conditions of migratory fish. Virho’s work has been pioneering, and I believe that this project, too, will be a success,” says EKOenergy coordinator Riku Eskelinen
The EKOenergy label is an international eco-label for electricity. EKOenergy works in collaboration with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. According to the EKOenergy label criteria, a portion of the revenue from sales of hydropower must be used to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of hydropower. Moreover, the label sets additional requirements for the hydropower plants that generate the eco-labelled electricity. The label has sustainability criteria also for other renewable energy. With its Tarkka agreement, Fortum is the biggest EKOenergy-labelled electricity seller in Finland.
Riku Eskelinen, EKOenergy coordinator, tel. +358 50 572 7782
Tuomas Oksanen, Head of Sales, Fortum, tel. +358 40 357 9145
Markus Penttinen, Virtavesien hoitoyhdistys ry, tel. +358 40 772 8861