Harakka nature centre – information on the baltic sea and experiences in the archipelago
Harakka island is located on the coast of Helsinki where the headland of Helsinki reaches far into the arms of the open sea. The vicinity of the city and the outer archipelago join to create a unique atmosphere. On the southern side of the island, the Gulf of Finland opens to the viewer. The boat ride to the island only takes a few minutes.
Harakka was formerly in the possession of the Defence Forces until it was opened to the public in 1989. The protected buildings on the island were constructed by both the Russian and the Finnish armies in their time. The nature centre uses, for instance, a barracks built by Russians in 1908. The old ammunition cellars contain exhibitions from the nature centre and artists.
Harakka certainly is a condensation of life. The yards, old walls, meadows on the rocks, shore leas and small wetlands offer so many different habitats that the flora and the diversity of birdlife is unlike any other in the archipelago of Helsinki. Nearly half of the nine-hectare island is a conservation area to protect nesting birds and the preservation of the flora. A one-kilometre nature trail equipped with guideposts surrounds the island.
The nature centre has moved to a carbon neutral era. A small wind turbine produces electricity, and solar energy is utilised in many different ways in the buildings on the island. The nature centre’s carbon footprint has diminished by 60 per cent due to renewable energy production. The island has the first renewable energy-themed exhibition trail in Finland.
Harakka nature centre arranges archipelago-themed nature school trips for daycare groups and pupils from Helsinki. Teachers and educators receive supplementary training on environmental education, and the inhabitants of the municipality are offered nature trips and adventures on the island, events and exhibitions depicting the nature of the archipelago. The aquarium building presents fish, algae and other underwater life in the Gulf of Finland. The nature building loans binoculars, hand nets and anemometers. The solar grill provides a place for heating your picnic lunch.
Harakka nature centre participates in the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 in many different ways. The curricula of the nature school include information on the state of the Gulf of Finland and one task for pupils is to simulate an imaginary accident in which they reflect on the impact of oil and chemicals on waters and nature. Harakka also arranges an international camp for Russian, Estonian and Finnish youth.
The nature trips for inhabitants of the municipality have a Gulf of Finland theme series, and the adventure trips for families acquaint children with insular nature and the underwater world. The memorable public event Wonders of the sea and treasures of the shores on Helsinki Day, June 12, is also tied to the Gulf of Finland Year.
Harakka nature centre is open from the beginning of May until the end of September every day 10 AM – 17 PM, closed on Saturdays. The link boat leaves from the Kaivopuisto strand approximately every half an hour. During the season, Harakka has approximately 10,000 visitors, half of which participate in the guided activities.