Snowchange Logo

Koitajoki Catchment

Koitajoki Catchment is a 6500 square kilometer river system of Koitajoki. It is both on the Finnish and Russian side. Koitajoki area is of paramount cultural importance to Karelian and Finnish peoples. Koitajoki is divided at present to North Karelia, Finland and Republic of Karelia, Russia. This division is the result of WW2, where the post-war international border was drawn in such a way as to cut the basin in half. Finnish and Karelian, related Finno-Ugric languages, are spoken along the basin. Koitajoki River Rewilding is a basin-wide traditional knowledge and science-based restoration project over six years (2020-2026) that aims to bring a large North European boreal river basin back to relative ecological health while stimulating a resurgence of traditional knowledge, oral histories and local governance in the villages of the river. Snowchange is leading the Koitajoki restoration work with technical and communications support from UK-based partners, The Gaia Foundation. Gaia will bring experience from successful community-led cultural and ecological revival projects in the Amazon basin and across sub-Saharan Africa. It should be noted, that such actions on a basin-wide scale that combine traditional knowledge with science with clear and coherent aims, has not happened often even on the international level. Success in Koitajoki contains therefore stimulus and models for world-wide transformations from a century of troubles into a rewilded home stream of resilient villages, food security and well-being. Koitajoki is the home of Kalevala, the Finnish-Karelian epic as well as the original rune singing songs that arose from the relationships of the people with the landscape thousands of years ago. Kalevala oral histories and songs are often named the “Iliad and Odyssey” of the North. It was the last place historically where these epic songs were sung in their natural conditions on the Finnish side.