Environmental Mailing List


Jukka Mikkonen
Regional Development Planner
The Regional Council of Paijat-Hame

E-mail: jukka.mikkonen@phame.reg.reg.elisa.fi
Tel.: +358 18 783 0235
Fax: +358 18 783 0240
Postal address: PL 50, 15111 LAHTI, FINLAND
Street address: Hameenkatu 9 A

A new environmental mailing list

A message from the Office of the Regional Council of Paijat-Hame, Finland.

Addressee information sources: Finnish authorities, European Union, Internet, our colleaques and friends


1. An invitation and instructions for joining
2. The Grid Method
2.1. The idea and its progress so far
2.2. About hardware and software
2.3. Need of EnviGrid
3. EnviGrid-project
3.1. Short description of contents
3.2. The international mailing list
3.2.1. Justification
3.2.2. Some wishes for topics
4. The region and the Council of Paijat-Hame
5. Regional Councils in Finland
5.1. Organization
5.2. Activity in brief
5.3. General tasks in land-use planning
5.4. Further information
1. An invitation and instructions for joining

We have set up an international mailing list associated with our recently started EnviGrid-project. EnviGrid is a combination of words "environment" and "grid". We use it as a nickname to our national project "Computer aided management of environmental data in regional planning". The project is financed by the Finland's Ministry of the Environment and realized mainly by ourselves during next two years. The first object of our project is to find appropriate environmental indicators for the use of regional planning in our own region. The second object is to create a computer aided method for management of them. The method will be based on grid analysis.

We would like to start a free form exchange of ideas and thoughts with professional planners and environmentally active people around Europe mainly, but of course we don't put absolute limits along continental borders. We are especially seeking people involved with environmental indicators (our first object). During discussions we will try to clarify, what kind of conclusions we could or should draw for the regional land-use planning with the help of the indicators. At first we are going to examine environment through wide concept, including social indicators. If there will arise interest in our second object, we will gladly discuss the grid analysis too.

We are interested in hearing about your problems and solutions in the use of indicators. In return we will tell you about our ideas and the progress of our project. There is the possibility that in the future these discussions could lead us into deeper dealings in regard to possible EU-proposal or for some other intention.

If this was enough to convince you of the usefulness of participation, please follow the instructions for joining below. If you are not convinced yet, please read the more detailed information starting in chapter two. And finally: If you know people who might be interested in this matter, please forward this message to them. Welcome to the club!

On behalf of the EnviGrid-team
Jukka Mikkonen
Regional development planner



To join the EnviGrid list, send an email message to list_mgr@kuntaliitto.fiwith the body:
join envgrid-l

NOTE: You should get an automatic answer from the list manager after a while. Please send us some information about yourself as mentioned in it.

To send a message to the list, send an email message to envgrid-l@kuntaliitto.fi

To leave the list, send an email message to list_mgr@kuntaliitto.fi with the body:
leave envgrid-l

To get help of other list commands, send an email message to list_mgr@kuntaliitto.fi with the body:
help envgrid-l

If your email address has changed since you joined, send an email message to list_mgr@kuntaliitto.fi with the body:
leave envgrid-l

If you have problems in joining, using or leaving the list, please contact Mr. Hannu Niemi in email address: hannu.niemi@reg.fi (or hannu.niemi@kuntaliitto.fi)


2. The Grid Method

2.1. The idea and its progress so far

The idea of our Grid Method is simply to place different types of GIS data into same square. We may for example split area data and add together point data to compare them in squares. With this method we can do fast database calculations, find explanatory factors and make new conclusions for the land-use purposes. We can even utilize descriptive information with this method. At least we are trying to do so.

Up to the present we have used the Grid Method mainly in these analyses:

- access ability of centres
- gravity potential of centres
- appropriate location of the new settlement
- the most potential new employment areas
- the economy of infrastructure in land-use scenarios

EconoGrid (economic grid model) is a nickname of the tool we developed for analysis last mentioned. The size of our region is about 90 km x 120 km, so we mostly use squares at sizes 250 m x 250 m and 500 m x 500 m. You are welcome to visit our Internet Grid pages in address http://www.reg.fi/phame/grid/dir2.htm.

2.2. About hardware and software

We are working with 486-PC:s and a Finnish GIS application "As2" in Windows 3.x environment, but that is not the point. You can use the Grid Method with different equipment. What you need are GIS data, database application and/or spreadsheet application and a GIS application that can use your database or spreadsheet as a source of information. We do most of calculations in database, because we are using GIS-data with number of records up to 300 000.

2.3. Need of EnviGrid

One of the widely known paradoxes of Finland's regional planning system is that in spite of its integrating duty the tasks are shattered. Among other things also environmental tasks have detached to one "environmental sector", with the result that environmental aspects can't be seen clear enough in other planning sectors. It is a problem of collaboration and lack of methods. We know that many environmental indicators exists, but we don't know how to make notable conclusions of them in land-use planning. What we need are a new kind of integrative thinking and new kind of methods.

We found out that with the help of grids we can combine GIS-data more versatile than before. We have been able to make new inspiring conclusions through combinations. If we will manage to link together environmental indicators and our economical grid model, we can prepare our regional scenarios on more sustainable basis than perhaps ever before. We understand that our idea doesn't bring solution for managing of environment in regional planning as a whole, but we believe that we are trying to take a step to the right direction.

3. EnviGrid-project

3.1. Short description of contents

The EnviGrid-project is one part of the development of our Grid Method. The Grid Method is a way to analyse and illustrate GIS-data. It could be also internationally useful. At first we will deliberate upon relationships between nature, society and infrastructure using following visual angles: community, economy, ecology and health. SWOT-analysis is the method to apply, very freely to be sure. We hope that this will lead us close to the right type of environmental indicators.

The substance of the project will be to unite the indicator analysis with our Grid Method. We will intend to prepare our next Regional Plan with the results of the EnviGrid. In short, our goal, objects and ways to realize them are as follows:

The environmental part of the Grid Method is the goal of our project. The first object is the appropriate environmental indicator list for regional planning purposes in our region. The second object is the method for grid analysis and illustration of environmental indicators for use of regional planning. The means:

- to clarify the needs for changing methods of environmental management in Finland's regional planning (object 1)

- to study existing environmental indicator lists (object 1)

- to clarify the possibilities to utilize environmental indicators (object 1)

- to clarify existing methods in environmental indicator analyses (object 2)

- to test the suitability of the indicators for grid analysis (object 2)

- to join environmental grid with economical grid (object 2) We are going to examine environment through wide concept associating with object 1, because of the following reasons:

- Finland's Building and Planning Act presupposes it

- the Principle of Sustainable Development and the Local Agenda 21 presupposes it

- by doing so we can utilize our results better also in strategic planning

- by doing so we can later widen the object 2 to include the environment more extensive ("SocioGrid" for example)

In this project we will try to carry out only the nature environment part of object 2.

The EnviGrid-project is administratively our own. Finland's Ministry of the Environment is financing it, because it is responsible for the national land-use strategies, and is interested in planning methods with wider usefulness. The project has been put into practice by ourselves. We have called the following institutions to co-operate mainly in the acquiring of GIS-data:

- The Finnish Environment Agency

- The Geological Survey of Finland

The third co-operator is the regional Environment Centre of Hame, because their project slightly associates with ours. We collaborate also with the personnel of Lahti Environmental Forum (Local Agenda 21 in the City of Lahti). This call for mailing list is our attempt to broaden the discussion to international level.

3.2. The international mailing list

3.2.1. Justification

We took part in EU-Directoria in Brussels last December. We found out there that planners around Europe are deliberating upon same things as we, but from varying points of view. We presented our Grid Method to many delegations who considered it interesting. This success gave us courage to carry on with international contacts.

We are hoping now that with the help of this mailing list we would be able to establish an international network of people, who in a way or another are familiar with this kind of environmental problematics. The idea is that every person committed could get benefits through exchanging of experiences and knowledge. What we can offer is our experiences and knowledge in regional planning and grid analysis and we are compliant to recycle them. We feel also that this mailing list would be a good starter for new joint EU-proposals.

3.2.2. Some wishes for topics

It would be very useful for us, if the discussion would begin with topics focused in environmental indicators and general methodological matters in spatial planning scene. Of course we are also ready to talk over more specialised computer technics. The following is a short list about the things we are now especially interested in:

  - what is an environmental indicator, definitions
  - expediency of e. indicators in spatial planning, opinions
  - variation of e. indicators between areas, findings
  - lists of already used e. indicators, experiences
  - problems with the use of e. indicators, experiences
  - methods used in analysis of e. indicators, descriptions
  - all the above-mentioned from the angle of regional and local level
    land-use planning
4. The region and the Council of Paijat-Hame

The Paijat-Hame region is located in the southern part of Finland's Lake District. Our Council is one of the nineteen Regional Councils on the mainland of Finland. The Council is owned by thirteen municipalities, biggest of them the City of Lahti with 95 000 inhabitants. Lahti is located 100 km north from Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The population of the region is 200 000 in total.

We have currently sixteen permanent officials and a few provisional ones in the Councils Office, about which seven in the regional planning unit. Our main tasks in the planning unit are preparation of the region's structural and physical plans. This is our contact information:

Hameenkatu 9
PL 50, 15111 LAHTI
Tel. +358 18 7830235, fax +358 18 7830240
Internet e-mail: forename.familyname@phame.reg.reg.elisa.fi

You can also visit our www-pages in address http://www.reg.fi/phame/welcome.htm". They are mostly in Finnish as yet and heavily under construction, but we are working on it. The City of Lahti has English pages in address http://www.php.fi/lahti/.

   EnviGrid personnel:
   Leo Barman, leader of the regional planning unit
   Erkki Rope, regional planning engineer
   Riitta Laitinen, regional development planner
   Jukka Mikkonen, regional development planner
5. Regional Councils in Finland

5.1. Organization

Regional Councils are joint municipal authorities formed and principally funded by their member municipalities. The Central Council is the highest decision making body of the Regional Council. Member municipalities elect representatives to the Central Council for a four-year term. Representation and voting rights are proportionate to the population of the member municipalities and are stipulated in the Council's charter. The Board is the Regional Council's executive and administrative organ. Its members are elected by the Central Council along party lines to be politically representative of the region. The Office of the Regional Council assists the Board in its administrative tasks. The names and the accurate tasks of the units or sections of the Offices are varying between regions.

5.2. Activity in brief

Regional Councils have statutory responsibility for regional development and planning through the Regional Development Act and the Building and Planning Act. The Councils also promote the interests of their regions and perform a broad variety of voluntary tasks, including international relations.

5.3. General tasks in land-use planning

Regional land use planning reconciles the different land-use objectives and interests of the national, regional, and local level. Regional plans provide the framework for planning at the municipal level and for all land-use plans. Regional planning also strives to achieve an efficient regional and urban infrastructure and to determine the best possible locations for crucial functions. Planning in accordance with the principle of sustainable development involves creating a safe and rewarding living environment, using natural resources in a sustainable manner and preserving ecological diversity and other values for future generations. Regional land-use planning involves a variety of tasks, such as locating service functions and facilities, designing built-up and industrial areas, planning traffic networks, waste and sewage disposal and energy supply systems and allocating land for farming, forestry and recreational purposes.

5.4. Further information

You can get further information about Regional Councils and other local authorities in Finland from the Association of Finnish Local Authorities:

   Toinen Linja 14
   Tel. +358 0 7711, fax +358 0 771 2535
   Brussels Office:
   Rue Belliard 199, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium
   Tel. 322 231 1107, fax 322 231 1087
You can also visit their www-sides in address http://www.kuntaliitto.fi/homepage.html

BACK TO *********************************************************************