Spring is in the air and so are lapwings and starlings. Eiders have arrived from the Wadden Sea and seem to have feasted well on German and Dutch mussels. I have met with the Board of FÖSS, the National Association of Finnish Islands
Out of the 179.485 islands in Finland, 549 are inhabited and unbridged which gives them a European record. Only 8.708 Finns live on all these islands so the human density is low compared to where the eiders come from: the Netherlands have 21 inhabited islands (out of a total of 54) with a population of 1.2 million people (and 10-12 million migratory birds).
There are only one or two inhabitants on half of the Finnish islands, most of them are men. All in all, 13 percent of the islanders are children.
On the FÖSS’ agenda was: election of board members and chairman, projects, action plan 2016 and ESINs next general meeting in September.
I was here to speak about energy since I have been the project manager of the ESIN part of the SMILEGOV project which included two Finnish islands: Nagu and Iniö. I guess I am misleading you when I call them islands: they are islands societies, former municipalities, vast archipelagos: Nagu covers 1.698 km2 with two bigger islands and 3,000 isles, inches and skerries, while Iniö’s area is 337 km2 whereof 83% is water and the rest is about a thousand small islets.
When it comes to energy, the inhabitants of Iniö use 49,9 m3 heat oil, 1.350 m3 of wood, 273.000 kWh of electricity, 47.000 liters of diesel, 219.400 litres of marine diesel oil and 127.800 litres of petrol, corresponding to 6.358 MWh per year. Of this , they produce 2.553 MWh (40%) themselves by wind, earth, sun and fire. Iniö can assimilate ten times the greenhouse gases it emits thanks to its forests, should one also include the sea, it is a thousand times.
Nagu is connected by ferries in both ends and 300,000 cars drive 4,2 million kilometres over the island per year. There are also five cruise ships going through the waters of Nagu every day, letting out 10,500 tons of CO2, 167 tonnes of NO2, 67 tonnes of SO2 and 13 tonnes of soot particles emissions per year on the island.
Iniö and Nagu are beautiful, vulnerable places, sparsely populated but richly visited. They use a lot of energy due to the many people who visit them, not because of the few ones who live on them.